Altair Engineering yesterday announced the acquisition of ACUSIM Software, maker of the AcuSolve family of computational fluid dynamics (CFD) products. Altair develops and markets a broad set of CAE tools, including the RADIOSS solver and the HyperMesh suite of pre/post-processing and optimization technologies. AcuSolve is generally regarded as a fast and accurate massively scalable, high-fidelity CFD solver with users across many industries.

I spoke yesterday with Altair’s Jeff Brennan and Mike Kidder about the acquisition. They told me that it was not precipitated by any particular event but that Altair has long been “looking for an acquisition to fill out its multiphysics capabilities”. The timing of the announcement is another story: it was made yesterday to coincide with a presentation Altair CEO Jim Scapa made at the Needham & Company Growth Conference. Mr. Brennan and Mr. Kidder declined to give financial details, but did offer other important information:

• All of ACUSIM’s staff have joined Altair and are now part of Altair’s HyperWorks operations. Mr. Brennan said that ACUSIM founder and CEO Dr. Farzin Shakib will head up a new CFD development team, comprised of ACUSIM employees and other Altair developers with “pent up CFD expertise”.

• Altair and ACUSIM personnel have already been getting together to demonstrate their respective technologies. Mr. Brennan described what sounded like very energetic, creative meetings to figure out how to integrate AcuSolve with RADIOSS, OptiStruct and HyperStudy.

• AcuSolve is finite-element based (rather than finite difference, like many other CFD solvers), which will allow Altair to integrate with RADIOSS and other FEA-based technologies such as MotionVIew to address fluid-structure and other multiphysics problems.

• ACUSIM has been an Altair Hyperworks Alliance partner for years, so some of Altair’s customers are already familiar with AcuSolve. Now that Altair actually owns Acusolve, it will be made available to all Hyperworks customers using Altair’s on-demand token licensing, perhaps as soon as the next release.

• Altair had partner relationships with two other CFD suppliers. Both SC/Tetra by Software Cradle and CFD++ by Metacomp will remain in the program and offer complementary solutions.

• ACUSIM had previously integrated AcuSolve with MSC Software and other CAE companies and CAD vendors; those partnerships also stay in place.

• Altair intends to hire application engineers and technical staff to increase support for ACUSIM customers around the world.

• ACUSIM’s customers appear to be supportive of the move — they see access to a larger R&D and support network as a positive development.

Altair sees a lot of potential in this acquisition, and not only because of ACUSIM’s technology. AcuSolve had strong customer support in verticals such as alternative energy and electronics, where Altair has been trying to grow its presence. Mr. Kidder said that Altair will be able to leverage ACUSIM’s technology and customer base to expand its footprint in these new areas while bringing Acusolve to Altair’s historic automotive and aerospace clients.