Yes I know this question may be ridicously naive, but I'll just give it a shot.

I was wondering if there is any software out there that could help you develop and test a flying machine, in a similar way to how SolidWorks will let you build and run mechanical components, but also taking into account the physics effects of gravity, the air flowing around wings and the motion of wings, for example in the reproduction of a mechanical bird flapping its wings...

Googling around I found the following paper, where the publishers show how they built exactly that, a mechanical bird, using SolidWorks.


But then, after adding the surfaces, can Solid Works make you play with it taking into account the air, gravity and everything else? Or can a different software?

No price limit, preferably running on Windows. By test I mean... something similar to what Algodoo lets you do, but also taking into account air flow, and 3D...

This is a serious question but I hope to not offend anyone with it :)

  • Will plane simulator like X-plane work for you? Feb 15, 2016 at 23:42
  • @PeterMasiar: Converted to a comment, see meta.softwarerecs.stackexchange.com/questions/356/… Cheers!
    – Nicolas Raoul
    Feb 16, 2016 at 2:40
  • 1
    Essentially I think you are looking for CFD - Computational Fluid Dynamics software. There are several that will run from Solidworks, including their own and Autodesk's Flow Simulation (formerly CFDesign). I'm not sure if they will comfortably handle the level of detail and dynamics that an articulated "bird machine" model calls for. Also the Algodoo page you link has a link to Dynamics for SpaceClaim whose page says "aeronautics". None of these are cheap. A primarily Linux, but also Windows CFD software is OpenFOAM. Free and open source. Don't know if it could work for your interest.
    – JKEngineer
    Feb 18, 2016 at 23:15
  • I knew about Dynamics for SpaceClaim and Autodesk's Flow Simulation, but none of those products descriptions suggest that you are free to interact with your model in a 3D world after you have designed it or while doing so (it seems you can only make "wind tunnel" experiments or alike). I stated I needed to do more than that in my question: "can Solid Words make you play with it taking into account the air gravity and anything else, or can a different software?", "something similar to what Algodoo lets you do"..., so I think they don't fit...
    – red-o-alf
    Feb 22, 2016 at 19:30
  • JKEngineer to expand on that, I am sure you can't do a full CFD computation of a model in real time as you interact with it and moving its parts, unless you have some 200 (I'm just throwing a number) CPU's running in parallel... Maybe what flying simulators like X-plane (that @NicolasRaoul suggested) do is they do a very limited, low res CFD computation, which maybe is the only reasonable compromise to look after... But X-plane also puts a lot of effort in world simulation, taking away power from flying computation.. so.. I am not sure if it's actually a good simulation or just a good game...
    – red-o-alf
    Feb 22, 2016 at 19:50


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