Mentor Graphics bought boutique CFD house Flomerics in 2008 to strengthen its offerings in the printed circuit board (PCB) and accelerate its entrance into markets outside the traditional (and volatile) electronics space. Before it became Mentor Graphics’ Mechanical Analysis Division, Flomerics was a publicly traded company in the UK. From their last full-year filing (to the close of 2007) we can glean that it was a small but growing business with total revenue of £9.8 million (about $16 million using today’s exchange rate), up 18% from the prior year. In May 2008, the company reported that revenue for the first quarter was up 42% to £3.65 million, due in part to the acquisition of NIKA, the all-purpose CFD tool now rebranded as the FloEFD. By July 2008, company representatives were saying that Flomerics’ annualized revenue was around BP14.6 million — if true, up a a very strong 48% over 2007. Mentor isn’t making public any real data about the acquisition’s recent performance but Division General Manager Erich Buergel says that bookings and revenue for the last six months were up “in the double digits”.

But Mentor has a problem: you know them as a leading maker of printed circuit board design tools. And they are but did you also know, for example, that FloVENT is used by many large IT houses to optimize data center cooling or that FloEFD is a general-purpose CFD tool? Mentor wants you to start thinking of them for far more than electronics design and has started on a campaign to let us all know that they offer more CFD than we thought.

FloTHERM, the company’s flagship product, is a CFD app that predicts airflow, temperatures and thermal losses in electronic equipment. Flo/PCB does the same for printed circuit boards and FloPack for integrated circuit (IC) packages. FloVENT is used for HVAC design and optimization and MicRed (Microelectronic Research and Development) focused on the thermal characterization of IC packages, multichip modules and PCBs.

But the Mentor team is most excited about the potential for FloEFD (Engineering Fluid Dynamics), which it sees as a new, better way to integrate CFD into the design process. In essence, the company believes FloEFD provides real-time, automated, easy-to-use CFD, embedded into common MCAD applications –currently CATIA V5, PRO/Engineer and SolidWorks; NX and Inventor are coming in 2010.

While FloEFD is more limited than some commercial codes (providing only one turbulence model rather than many, for example), customers say it offers ease of use and integration; two attributes that are key for more casual users. Should the established broad-spectrum CFD vendors be worried? Probably not yet — but with Mentor’s $800 million in annual sales, what had been a sleepy little UK CFD vendor could become something of a force.