The EnSight CFD Simulation Post-Processing Story: Like a Multi-Stage Rocket

EnSight, the leading post-processor for Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) data is now part of ANSYS. In the two decades since its launch, EnSight has taken off like a multistage rocket. Here is the story.

I grew up in that magical era when NASA used multi-stage rockets to carry Apollo astronauts to the moon and back. As a toddler I learned to count backwards from 10, 9, 8, 7, 6 … because that’s what I heard Mission Control say. I dreamt of being an astronaut, studied aerospace engineering and started my career at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. I met my lovely wife there, blocks from the NASA gates. Her parents still live next door to Buzz Aldrin’s Apollo era house. I used to store my lunch in the Mission Control fridge while working on my space shuttle aerodynamic simulations in the support room next door. So maybe it’s natural for me to think in rocket terms.

Just like rocket stages brought us to the moon and back, I see CEI’s history like a multi-stage rocket. Stage 1 launched in 1994 as CEI was spun out of Cray Research. Cray endowed us with the EnSight intellectual property and customers in return for an equity stake. And that worked really well. The original five people of CEI were 15 by 2001.

But by mid 2000’s, we needed a Stage 2 as we noticed we were much stronger in the USA than in the rest of the world. By the end of 2010, we had invested in international growth by opening CEI offices in Germany, Japan, India and China and doubled our headcount. This was expensive but was worth it as we learned about these markets and their needs so we could better support them. We developed documentation, support forums, and even EnSight GUIs in Japanese and Chinese. We invested in EnSight User meetings enhanced our product.

EnSight version 10 offered many interactive and ease of use innovations like drag and drop coloring, click and go handles and case-linking. Along with that new user interface, we implemented a constantly improving Python API that is now the envy of the post-processing world. We are proud of how EnSight leverages Python to lead in automate post-processing capabilities. And, 2016 and 2017 were record breaking years as these investments paid off.

EnSight links together three data sets to automatically repeat operations
on each in real time.

Why sell CEI to ANSYS? Because we knew joining ANSYS was the way to have the maximum impact on the CAE community. We now have direct access to the most important CAE solvers in the world. We wanted to be able to put EnSight into the hands of the many users of these tools. So we joined ANSYS because it was the logical next stage for our momentum. The best time to launch the next stage of a rocket is while you have forward and upward momentum.

What’s next with EnSight, now that CEI is part of ANSYS?  Well, all the EnSight team has come on board. The genius developers who made EnSight are now working for ANSYS. We are excited about keeping the team together because it will help us maintain our momentum as we bring our ANSYS colleagues up to speed on selling, supporting, and developing EnSight. The EnSight and ANSYS development teams are already collaborating so that future versions of EnSight are dramatically faster, more robust, and more intelligent about loading ANSYS data.

What about Stage 3 of this rocket?  Watch for announcements in the coming months.

Airflow over a car created using EnSight’s photorealistic ray-tracing. Courtesy GM.

Users tell us time and time again is that EnSight’s ability to bring in multiple datasets at the same time, to compute differences in results, to compare solvers or compare design changes, and to fuse simulation and experimental data, these are real differentiators of EnSight.

Unconvinced? Please watch this on-demand webinar where Astec engineer and EnSight user Andrew Hobbs is presenting his experience with EnSight and why he uses the data fusion capability.

 

EnSight fusion of two datasets showing an improved Astec design (red particles better mixed with blue particles. Image courtesy Andrew Hobbs, Astec, Inc.

Customers say that EnSight helps them “see the previously unseen” and “analyze, visualize, and communicate” their data. One aerospace user calls EnSight “the BMW of post-processors” (we are very proud of all of our automotive customers). So we aren’t asking you to believe this on faith. We only ask that you try out EnSight. Contact us now to arrange a call and a demo, and some guided getting started. We believe we will not be wasting your time or ours. You can’t benefit from EnSight if you aren’t using it!

While we have been focused on CFD, EnSight is general purpose, good for FEA, for Crash, and for Electromagnetics and we’ll be back to talk to you about those. But we prefer to start at CFD and then expand with our momentum of our stage 3. Other physics of ANSYS, besides CFD and FSI/multi-physics, will be our stage 4.  Look for that in 2019 and beyond.

ANSYS Fluent and Mechanical coupling showing flow induced stress on a cooling fan.

Are you getting what you need from your post-processing software?

Are you unhappy with your current post-processing?  I understand. We know you are tired of limitations and poor performance. We’ve been working for your needs since 1994. We want to meet you and there is no better time than now. We want to meet you and there is no better time than now.

ansys webinarsWatch this on-demand webinar to see a lively demo showing how you can better analyze, visualize and communicate your simulation data with EnSight. Or contact now us for an in person demonstration, trial license or a quote.

A big thank you to those who have made CEI what it is today:

  • Cray Research.
  • All of our current and former CEI teammates including:
    • Our Board of Directors, especially John Dawson and Jeff Witwer for 23 years service.
    • Kent Misegades, CEI’s president 1999 – 2007.
    • Founding developers Bruce Nay, Dave Baumgartner, Mel Spencer, and Anders Grimsrud.
    • Dr. Anders Grimsrud, the heart of EnSight, now continuing as EnSight development leader at ANSYS.