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ITT Gilfillan minimizes prototyping with Coolit.

Courtesy of ITT Gilfillan

ITT Gilfillan previously required up to 3 months of mockup testing in order to assess thermal performance on new designs for its air defense or air traffic-control radar systems. The costly and time-consuming process spurred engineering to begin evaluating CFD computer programs in order to minimize physical prototyping. A key selection factor was ease-of-use since any new software tool would have to be implemented during a project and, therefore, getting up to speed quickly was imperative.

A typical radar system consists of numerous parts that require thermal analysis. In a recent design, there were two isolated cooling subsystems, one an open loop system that cooled the antenna and a closed loop system that was sealed to protect the power and control electronics. The latter used baffles to direct the airflow across the components and over the cabinet cooler where heat was released into ambient.

The best mechanical locations for two fans in the closed loop system intuitively seemed likely to result in air recirculation near one of the power supplies. But other possible locations potentially would increase the pressure drop and result in insufficient airflow through the system. Using Coolit to analyze different scenarios, engineers discovered that despite recirculation at the preferred location, there would still be adequate cooling.

Since adopting Coolit, the company has begun simulating even small, inexpensive components it previously could not economically justify analyzing. For example, a plug-in power supply might contain 30-50 parts, but it can be modeled quickly and efficiently in Coolit. This new information has resulted in more reliable and high-performance designs. Coolit has proven to be a valuable virtual prototyping tool that permitted ITT Gilfillan to reduce its reliance on physical prototypes and with that an accompanying reduction of product development time and costs.

ITT's radar system model.
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