The Top 5 Manufacturing Applications

By: TOP500 Team

The manufacturing segment is one of the largest markets for high performance computing, globally. In fact, the large product manufacturing sub-segment is the biggest vertical in commercial HPC. All leading automotive, aerospace, and heavy equipment manufacturers have employed HPC for decades, using the technology to design and test their products.

The other principle manufacturing sub-segment, consumer manufacturing, is smaller, but represents one of the fastest growing verticals for HPC usage. It employs digital simulations to help design and test a wide array of consumer products such as smartphones, electric drills, laundry detergent, and food packaging. HPC is particularly useful in the fast-moving consumer product space because it enables engineers to iterate quickly through design variations as new products are developed.
Using digital simulations allows manufacturers to reduce costs by replacing costly development of physical models with virtual ones during various stages of the product development workflow. Potential benefits include improved product quality, shorter time to market, and reduced manufacturing costs.

Software application areas encompass two broad categories: structural analysis and fluid dynamics analysis. Fluid dynamics analysis includes applications used to perform computational fluid dynamics (CFD), while structural analysis encompasses applications for analyzing structures, including explicit and implicit finite element analysis (FEA).

In its global survey of HPC manufacturers, Intersect360 Research has found a large number of applications being used across the industry, but a handful (less than 10) are used more frequently. Here are top 5 HPC application packages used by manufacturers:


Developed by Livermore Software Technology Corporation (LSTC), LS-DYNA is an expansive finite element analysis (FEA) suite used by engineers for automotive, aerospace, construction, military, product manufacturing, and bioengineering applications. Typical use cases include performing virtual crash testing for automobiles, analyzing the deformation profile of plastics and metals, simulating wear and tear of moving parts, and analyzing the explosive characteristics of various weapons. It was used by NASA to simulate the airbags used in the landing of the Mars Pathfinder space probe.

LS-DYNA originated at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) in 1976 as a basic FEA program. With the founding of LSTC in 1988 and the subsequent expansion of its capabilities, the software became widely used by commercial manufacturers.

2. Abaqus.

Like LS-DYNA, SIMULIA Abaqus is an FEA suite that has been enhanced to offer full-featured support for engineering simulations and visualizations. The suite encompasses a range of interoperable products, including Standard (general-purpose FEA), CAE (computer-aided engineering), Explicit (advanced FEA), CFD (computational fluid dynamics) and Multiphysics (multiphysics interactions). It also offers an Add-ons product that allows users to integrate applications from third-party tools.

The wide range of capabilities allow Abaqus to support simulations of complex assemblies and heterogeneous materials. It is primary employed by automotive, aerospace, and other industrial manufacturers, and is typically used for designing and testing engines and machinery. The suite is also used for drop testing, crash testing, ballistics, thermal stress analysis, and to assess earthquake resistance of large structures.s LS-DYNA is owned and distributed by Dassault Systèmes.

3. ANSYS Fluent.

ANSYS Fluent is one of the most comprehensive computational fluid dynamics (CFD) software packages available today. It allows engineers to model flow, turbulence, heat transfer, and other type of fluid-based reactions for industrial applications. Fluent offers advanced capabilities, such as simulating laminar, turbulent and multiphase flows, as well as interactions with chemical reactions, radiation and particulate dynamics.

Typical manufacturing use cases include simulating airflow over an aircraft wing, performing blood flow analysis for medical devices, studying airflow in heating and cooling systems, and modeling combustion behavior in engines and furnaces. Fluent was used to optimize the aerodynamics of Red Bull’s Formula 1 racecars and to help reduce drag on Speedo’s Olympics-class LZR Racer swimming suit.


CD-adapco. A relatively new offering (2004) from software maker CD-adapco, STAR-CCM+ is a popular CFD package, and like competing products is used to model gas and fluid flow across a wide range of engineering applications. Different solvers are available and are used in different environments, depending on the compressibility of the flow and timescale of the simulation. STAR-CCM+ also supports comprehensive physics modeling for applications that need to incorporate electromagnetics, aeroacoustics, heat transfer, and mechanical stress, to name a few.

The software runs in a client/server model so that engineers can run their applications remotely from their desktop systems on a high performance computing cluster. It provides a modern interface aimed at maximizing ease of use. STAR-CCM+ has been used by Renault to maximize performance on its Formula 1 cars, and to optimize the electrocoat process used for corrosion protection in automobile manufacturing.

5. OpenFOAM.

OpenFOAM is an open source CFD software suite that has been gaining in popularity in the automotive, aerospace, energy, and industrial sectors. Its growing user base of engineers and researchers is a result of its free nature and its easy expandability. In particular, users can create their own customized solvers and interfaces to third party modeling tools. Like other comprehensive CFD suites, it offers extensive support for fluid flow, meshing, turbulence, and heat transfer, while also providing auxiliary functionality in other areas such as electromagnetics, molecular dynamics, combustion and solid dynamics.

OpenFOAM code is distributed by the OpenFOAM Foundation, which claims that one million copies of the software have been downloaded since 2005. Support and training is available from ESI Group, which acquired the OpenFOAM trademark when it bought OpenCFD Ltd from SGI in 2012.