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FUNAI ELECTRIC CO., LTD.
Thermal Analysis Tool Enables Low-Cost, Fast–to-Market Product Development

Funai Electric engineers and manufactures low cost, high quality electronics products. Their success surpassing the fierce competition in their industry is firmly linked to ambitious implementation of thermal analysis for product development and product issue troubleshooting. SC/Tetra HPC (High Performance Computing) solver is Funai Electric’s thermal analysis tool of choice and has been instrumental in helping the company achieve success.

Figure 1: Inside a DVD player

Applying SC/Tetra to the Design of DVD Players

 For the design of a DVD player, Funai Electric assigned two CFD specialists to perform CFD analyses during the early phases of the product development process and to also use it for troubleshooting. During the development of the DVD player, the competition in the marketplace for this product was intense in terms of price and device performance. Funai Electric was also under the pressure to come up with an advanced design. To achieve this, the design team suggested eliminating the small fan often used in the player, to help reduce cost and noise, and enhance product competitiveness. The design and analysis teams worked closely to find a way to accomplish the goal.

Figure 2: Analysis results from a DVD player
​(click to enlarge)

 Airflow is induced inside the DVD player even without the fan, because of the rotating disc. The challenge was to find a way to use this airflow to cool the IC chip. Funai Electric engineers first considered whether a design structure without heat-sinks was feasible. They arranged the chassis to be in contact with the IC chip by making a dent, which functioned as substitute heat-sinks that dissipated the heat to outer chassis. Another design concept involved drilling a hole in the chassis to let the air generated by disc rotation pass through. The team also considered adding walls to the area where airflow was not necessary and modifying the the inner structure to direct more airflow towards the IC chip. By using CFD to evaluate the design concepts, Funai Electric engineers found that the chassis with a hole for the air to pass through, in combination with making the chassis from highly heat-conductive aluminum, was most efficient.

 This illustrates how Funai Electric benefitted from using SC/Tetra during the early design phase. The development time took less than six months by applying a model derived from a previous project. Design modifications were accommodated by cooperative exchanges between the design and analysis departments. This was followed by prototype testing by the design team, and finally, the trial production. Ultimately, Funai Electric succeeded in reducing cost, prototype production, and overall development time.

Planning Countermeasures against Heat

 Before introducing thermal analysis into the design process, Funai Electric engineers had to repeat the prototype test and design phase many times to optimize the design. CFD analysis quickened the prototyping process by enabling the engineers to visualize places inside the DVD player that could not be easily observed in the real world. The company acknowledged the usefulness of CFD because they are now able to only make small adjustments to the components to solve the design problems. While the engineering team constantly faces new challenges such as the increase in heat generation per unit caused by the miniaturization of IC chips, the team is confident in coming up with a solution by using CFD early in the design process. They are encouraged because using CFD to evaluate conceptual designs early in the process helps them make quick decisions and actions as they work toward the best solution.

 While Funai Electric is quite satisfied with the way they have used CFD for conceptual design, they realize that clearly identifying the benefits can still be challenging. Using CFD early in the design phase to identify the most promising designs eliminates problems that would normally be manifest later in the process. Fewer serious thermal problems arise during the prototyping phase because they were recognized and eliminated earlier in the process. As a result, the benefits of using CFD in the design process cannot be recognized or quantified easily. On the other hand, the effectiveness of measures derived from the CFD analysis taken in response to product issues can be observed more clearly. The analysis verifies the cause of the problems and helps identify the best solution. Funai Electric’s challenges in trying to quantify the benefits of CFD are similar to other companies. Nevertheless, their experiences suggest that more consideration is necessary to fully capture and quantify the benefits from applying thermal analysis software.
 

Boosting the Product Performance Using SC/Tetra

 While Funai Electric has developed a high degree of proficiency using CFD, their ambition to do even more knows no limit. Not only are they eager to apply SC/Tetra to more new product development efforts especially in the early design phase, they also want to improve the accuracy of the results. This includes improving the modeling accuracy and applying the appropriate equations for turbulent flows. The impact of improving accuracy will be less when using CFD for conceptual design in comparison to the detailed models needed to solve production issues. This is why Funai Electric is intent on achieving high accuracy, with one of the first steps being to assess the turbulent flow models in SC/Tetra, and to identify which ones work the best and why.

 In recent years, Funai Electric has also become aware of the increasing importance of coupling analysis processes as they continued to develop their diverse line of products. Coupling of structural and fluid analysis is an example, and they are very interested in determining how fluid pressure and flow rate affect the deformation of the structure.

 Another result from the implementation of CFD is reduction in the number of fluid related experiments as they begin to be replaced by CFD analysis. Engineers agree that fluid experiments require significant preparation and post clean-up. These can be minimized by using CFD to reduce the number of tests and increase the overall efficiency.
 

Anticipating Further Progress of SC/Tetra

 CFD specialists at Funai Electric expect that Cradle software will continue to help them enhance the technology in their products and help them develop products that are widely used and highly anticipated around the globe. They further note that they would like Cradle to upgrade the coupling function in their software and to continue to strengthen their ability to offer excellent consultation and support. Funai Electric’s steady progress and successful implementation of SC/Tetra into their product development process will help them continue to manufacture high quality products for global consumers.

*All product and service names mentioned are registered trademarks or trademarks of their respective companies.
*Contents and specifications of products are as of January 31, 2014 and subject to change without notice. We shall not be held liable for any errors in figures and pictures, or any typographical errors.

Company Details







 

FUNAI ELECTRIC CO., LTD.
Established August 1961
Business Manufacturing of video equipment, electrical appliances (DVD/Blu-ray players and recorders, IT devices and other  related products)
CEO Yoshikazu Uemura
Head Office Location Daito-shi, Osaka, Japan
Number of Employees 953 (as of March 31, 2014)
Capital

Approx. 31 billion JPY
(as of March 31, 2014)

URL http://www.funai.jp/en/index.html

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