Daktronics is one of the world’s largest suppliers of electronic scoreboards, computer-programmable displays, digital billboards, and large-screen video displays and control systems.
For the engineering team at Daktronics successful product development requires integration of complex multiple displays showing real-time information, graphics, animation and video. They have to be built to withstand all types of weather, to dissipate heat generated by light-emitting diodes (LEDs), and look good even when directly opposite an unforgiving sun. The tool that helps Daktronics analyze these complex factors early in the design process is CFdesign upfront CFD software.
“We use CFdesign in order to thoroughly understand complex electronics cooling situations and make comparisons among different designs before we start to build,” says Shannon Mutschelknaus, thermal product development engineer at Daktronics.
Benefits vs. Cost… Upfront
“We use CFdesign in the early stages of the design to compare benefits vs. cost for different combinations of components, fans, heatsinks, enclosures and materials,” says Mutschelknaus. “With this information, we can narrow our options to two or three different designs that we’ll physically prototype.”
A typical project at Daktronics starts with a Pro/ENGINEER model of the display. Native geometry from Pro/E is used by CFdesign, eliminating the time-consuming translation process required for traditional CFD.
Flow volume, volumetric boundary conditions, and material properties are assigned automatically. After that, all that is left is selecting flow and heat-transfer analysis options. CFdesign automatically generates the optimal mesh and provides access to initial simulation results within minutes. Associative data between CFdesign and Pro/E makes it easy to run a simulation and then conduct a 3D design study.
From Simple to Solar
For less demanding designs, Daktronics runs an airflow/ventilation analysis to compare different design options and optimize the airflow through the system.
For designs incorporating complex thermal cooling systems, Mutschelknaus and his colleagues, Sunil Gaddam and Kurt Peters, run integrated natural convection and airflow analyses.
New Solar loading functionality in CFdesign has also played a key role in Daktronics’ design work. “Time-stepped solar simulation has enabled us to optimize display contrast by varying sizes and shapes of shading louvers on the display face,” says Mutschelknaus. “It’s another way that
CFdesign has helped us determine performance in the early design stages.”
According to Mutschelknaus, nearly every project at Daktronics benefits from moving CFD upfront in the design process. “It has helped us engineer higher-quality products that are superior to our competition, break down existing design barriers, and define realistic expectations of a product earlier in the design process.”