Visual-CFD for OpenFOAM®

Visual-CFD for OpenFOAM®

ESI introduces an advanced user interface for OpenFOAM. This GUI environment integrates OpenFOAM into a CAE platform, called Visual Environment, which also hosts ESI Virtual Engineering tools for Casting, Composites, Crash, Electromagnetics, NVH, Sheet Metal Forming and Welding. This Environment is widely used for design and production analysis worldwide. With Visual-CFD, it is easy to prepare CAD geometry, set up, solve and post-process an OpenFOAM case in a customizable, unified, Environment using familar CFD terminology. This makes Visual-CFD a valuable tool for both OpenFOAM beginners as well as experienced users. It is available on both Linux and Windows platforms.

What does Visual-CFD offer?

Combined with meshing and easy case set up for OpenFOAM, Visual-CFD provides many more features that help users to easily integrate OpenFOAM into their workflow:

  • Seamless import from most popular CAD formats, e.g. CATIA, ProE, SolidWorks, UG etc. and many neutral formats e.g. IGES, STEP etc.
  • Extensive CAD clean up utilities for model preparation
  • Easy-to-use and intelligent set up
  • Integrated post-processing
  • Customizable using python-based macros
  • …and many other utilities to enhance OpenFOAM capabilities

Visual-CFD GUI

Why Visual-CFD?

Visual-CFD is the perfect choice for:

  • new OpenFOAM users - feature rich interface in an easy-to-use Environment
  • robust treatment of ‘dirty’ CAD - seamless import and clean-up of any CAD geometry
  • parametric studies - available using macros

More experienced users can find advanced utilities within the Environment to allow editing of the complete OpenFOAM deck to drive their process.

Attendees on our 2015 GUI for OpenFOAM Visual-CFD training course will be offered a one-month free trial license of the GUI.

Visual-CFD Process

Visual-CFD Workflow

Visual-CFD Work flow

Import and prepare your CAD Model

Pre-processing capabilities include:

  • Import from a many formats, e.g. IGES, STEP, CATIA, SolidWorks, UG etc.
  • Embedded NURB data clean-up facility and surface wrapping
  • Option to review for cracks and un-trimmed surfaces
  • Automated CAD repair process to fix most issues
  • Handling of different part-Ids to define boundary conditions
  • Export to STL format for snappyHexMesh

Visual-CFD Crack repair


Meshing (supported via snappyHexMesh) where the standard process is enhanced by:

  • User friendly outer domain/wind tunnel definition for exterior meshing
  • Simple-to-use multi-domain/region setup
  • Handling large models with part grouping and best-in-class graphics
  • Easy-to-use refinement functionality supported by mouse drag-and-drop
  • Intelligent default mesh settings, with visual inspection of sizing
  • Interactive mesh inspection
  • Access to additional OpenFOAM meshing utilities including check, renumber and merge meshes

Visual-CFD Wind tunnel Visual-CFD Mesh cut

Case Set-up

Visual-CFD offers easy case set-up, only exposing what is necessary, with support for additional physical modeling including porous media, Multiple Reference Frame (MRF) and Volume of Fluid (VoF) applications.

  • Applies boundary conditions to CAD surfaces and allows complete set up before meshing
  • Drag & drop of boundary conditions from a user-defined set to relevant parts
  • Easy to recognize boundary condition icons for part list
  • Easy-to-use monitoring of variables at points and surfaces, including drag/lift predictions
  • Intelligent discretization scheme selection based on mesh quality
  • Automatic switching to 2nd  \relax \special {t4ht= order schemes after a pre-assigned number of iterations
  • Remote launching of simulation to allow windows users to submit jobs on linux boxes

Visual-CFD Case set up


Post-processing is available directly on the decomposed cases within a single Environment.

Visual-CFD Post-processinf - surface pressure Visual-CFD Post-processing -
cuts Visual-CFD Post-processing - HVAC

What Visual-CFD can do?

Visual-CFD can:

  • Read most of CAD formats in addition to those supported by OpenFOAM e.g. STL, Nastran and OBJ
  • Help users to clean and prepare CAD surfaces
  • Generate both exterior- and interior models
  • Support multiple volumes/regions, e.g. radiator, condenser or evaporator/heater of HVAC units
  • Handle multiple STL files required by either multi-region/volume meshing or by refinements in an easy-to-use manner
  • Model fan as a disc (fan curve), MRF, or rotating/sliding mesh
  • Model heat transfer (including CHT) both natural or forced convections
  • Include Volume of Fluid (VoF) applications
  • Import meshes from Fluent, StarCCM and IdeasUNV
  • Read externally created native OpenFOAM cases
  • Provide best possible solver settings based on physics selected and quality of mesh generated
  • Create/record macros which enable users to automate their processes
  • …and many more


Comprehensive support for the Visual-CFD environment is available, and we provide regular training opportunities. Attendees on our 2015 GUI for OpenFOAM Visual-CFD training course will be offered a one-month free trial license of the GUI.