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nick_slee July 16, 2009 13:07

Getting Started in CFD/OpenFOAM
Hi, I am currently working for a company that deals a lot with fluid flow and I was asked by my boss to look into a possible open source CFD program that we could start using. I have found that OpenFOAM is probably the best option in the way of an open source CFD. I am currently running on windows, so i downloaded the openFOAM 1.5 for MS Windows binary release just to check it out and see if this is a path we would want to go down. If we found this is something we wanted, we would look more into purchasing a unix based computer to run it, but we just wanted to test it out for now. I have been struggling though with just understanding some of the basic concepts and how the program generally works. I have looked into some of the user manuals, but they have been of little help because of my little knowledge of CFD programs. I hope to be able to run a simple test through openFOAM to see if it is going to work for what we need, and how easy it will be to do so. But i have obviously found it difficult to do so with the little knowledge i have. So in general, I was wondering if any of you could point me to a possible source that really dumbs down a lot of this stuff so I can atleast begin to wrap my head around what is going on here. I would prefer that it deals directly with openFOAM and sort of walks you through a trial run or something of that sort, but anything will be of help right now. Thanks.

PaMuelle July 16, 2009 13:36

I'm not sure if i understand correctly what you need. I started into OpenFoam by using the tutorials presented on the OpenFoam page.
Maybe you should try these out, they might give you a good impression about how to work with OpenFoam.
(I started with no CFD background at all, too.)

nick_slee July 16, 2009 13:56

I'm sorry, let me clarify.
I'm sure I'll have lots of questions once I really dig into the program. My bigger issue is just getting basically started.
I've used commercial codes before and the approach is pretty intuitive. You design a model on paper to get to the underlying principle, develop a mesh, run the solver, post process. I'm not even getting that far.
Maybe my limitation is that I'm used to working with fancy GUI-s.
Is there any basic information on how to get started. For example how do I start a case, how do I look at a mesh, how do I pull the mesh into the solver. Right now it's almost like I've just got a bunch of disparate files that aren't quite aggregated into an application.
I apologize, I know these are really basic questions but I feel like I can't get any traction to start.

ngj July 16, 2009 14:52

Hi Nick

In the UserGuide, which is placed in OpenFOAM-1.5/doc/, you will find that there are complete hands on tutorials, which will take you through all the steps of mesh generation, boundary conditions, running the solver and visualizing the results.

Best regards,


bhh July 17, 2009 02:56

Hi Nick,

Check out the overheads for Th Basic training at:


CapSizer July 17, 2009 14:26

Phone a friend

Originally Posted by nick_slee (Post 222953)
I'm sorry, let me clarify.
I'm sure I'll have lots of questions once I really dig into the program. My bigger issue is just getting basically started.

Nick, I know exactly how you feel. OpenFOAM is in my experience the type of software where "Phone a friend" is perhaps the most valuable thing you could do. My suggestion is to find out if there is a group working with OpenFOAM reasonably close to you, and to spend a day or two with them. As for trying out the program, I think that you might be making life difficult for yourself with the Windows version. You can download a full Linux system with OpenFOAM that will boot off a decent USB memory schtick, and that might be an easier way to get started from the same page as the other guys.

henrik July 18, 2009 06:59

Just pointers a few to some Linux Life Distros:


elvis July 18, 2009 09:23


take a look at the three videos for

the slax live distributions contain uptodate OpenFoam1.5-dev CAElinux is not that uptodate and only supports 64bit Computers but gives a broader overview on CAE aplications => Openfoam, Code_Saturne, Elmer, gerrisflow solver
but OpenFoam is most capable CFD Tool

If you want to stay in your WindowsWorld take a look at $299.99/year or more expensive than symscape both commercial applications use OpenFOAM are available on Linux and Windows but do not use all OpenFoam capabilaties.

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