Open source, Science and Commerical Interests


How CFDEM®project touches your life
We develop so-called Computer Aided Engineering (CAE) software. This is special software which allows researchers and engineers to perform computer simulations of physical processes. CFDEM®project is specialized in CAE software that simulated the flow of particles, powders, gases and liquids. Sugar, sand, ores, tablets, chemicals, biomass, detergents, plastics, crops, fruits need to be harvested, produced, processed, transported and stored. CFDEM®project is an open source software project for computational simulation of these particle and fluid flow processes. Most notably, we develop the LIGGGHTS® and CFDEM®coupling simulation software packages. These are used by a large number of blue chip companies all over the globe to design and improve products and production processes, as well as for research.
Without being aware of it, you might have come across the impact that CFDEM®project creates for you already in your daily life! Without knowing it, you took a medical pill containing a small piece of CFDEM®project, used a detergent with a little CFDEM®project in it, or fed a little bit of CFDEM®project to your baby or the pet you love. The technology that we provide to you is crucial for creating innovations that make our world greener, help our economy grow and increase the safety and quality of the products we are using every day. The world’s largest corporations are using CFDEM®project, ranging from food to healthcare products, from chemicals to production of steel or plastic products.


Our mission is to provide excellent CAE software, based on the following principles:

  • Sustain – sustainable progress needs long term perspective, continuous development and professional support. Since 2010, CFDEM®project and since 2012, DCS Computing GmbH stands for this sustainability.
  • Impact – only a widely used, tested and maintained software can create impact. The open source nature of CFDEM®project allows for maximum impact and security of investment.
  • Bridge – We apply CFDEM®project software to a huge variety of industries and applications. This results in a software that bridges knowledge between fields, between academia and industry and adds value.
  • Enable – We are operating at the interface of physical modelling, software engineering, mechanical and chemical engineering, high performance computing and many other disciplines. The modular concept, the open source nature combined with professional support and development by DCS Computing GmbH enables a wide community covering scientists, engineers and students to fully harness the technology of CFDEM®project.
  • Respond – We respond swiftly to recent scientific developments, but also to bug/issue reports and suggestions. For our customers and to the wider community, we deliver cutting edge software within an unprecedented time-to-market!


To fulfill our mission we need the following ingredients: Idealism, Funding & Accessibility

Ingredient 1: Idealism

An open source project needs other open source projects
CFDEM®project would never exist without the possibility to re-use, modify and adapt other people's codes, most notably the OpenFOAM® project and the LAMMPS project. Of course, we also heavily rely on many other open source projects. Following our principle, the usage of other's work implies the obligation for us to give back open source code to that can be used freely by everyone. This is what we do: CFDEM®project releases LIGGGHTS®-PUBLIC and CFDEM®coupling-PUBLIC to the open community.

An open source project needs a community
To really "live" as an open source project, a vivid community is needed, which is connected through discussions, community contributions, and events/conferences. Please see here for how you can get involved!

The community contributions will strengthen the open source, CFDEM®coupling-PUBLIC and LIGGGHTS®-PUBLIC versions which are freely available to the community! In a nutshell, following the Free Software Definition, a program is free software if the program's users have the four essential freedoms:

  • The freedom to run the program as you wish, for any purpose (freedom 0).
  • The freedom to study how the program works, and change it so it does your computing as you wish (freedom 1). Access to the source code is a precondition for this.
  • The freedom to redistribute copies so you can help your neighbor (freedom 2).
  • The freedom to distribute copies of your modified versions to others (freedom 3). By doing this you can give the whole community a chance to benefit from your changes. Access to the source code is a precondition for this.

Ingredient 2: Funding

A software project needs funding

This is one of the points which is very often misunderstood. A software project, even an open source one, can't live from idealism alone. They also need strong and stable funding in order to prosper. We have made the experience that just providing commercial training and/or consultancy related to simulation technology is not a viable business model for making CFDEM®project prosper. This is why we, in addition to providing LIGGGHTS®-PUBLIC and CFDEM®coupling-PUBLIC freely available to everyone, sell software.
To get where CFDEM®project is now, companies from all over the world, as well as public funding agencies, have spent several million Euros for developing features, code and models, and delivering services around CFDEM®project. We try to give those who give funding some monetary compensation in exchange. We are realizing this via LIGGGHTS®-PREMIUM and CFDEM®coupling-PREMIUM: Company A would find it very irritating if they invested €50,000 into a new feature for LIGGGHTS® or CFDEM®coupling and company B (competitor of company A) could download it right away the next day. For this reason, some of the features are "locked in" for industrial sponsors of CFDEM®project for some time, and after some time they finally go into LIGGGHTS®-PUBLIC and CFDEM®coupling-PUBLIC. The PREMIUM versions are made available to industrial partners and customers as part of a long-term collaboration involving development projects to further strengthen the model portfolio of CFDEM®project.

The Free Software Foundation says about selling free software:

  • “Free software” does not mean “noncommercial”
  • “'Free software' means software that respects users' freedom and community. ... Thus, 'free software' is a matter of liberty, not price”
  • “To understand the concept, you should think of 'free' as in 'free speech', not as in 'free beer'. We sometimes call it 'libre software' to show we do not mean it is gratis.
  • See here for more info.

Ingredient 3: Availability

In order to create impact we must make CFDEM®project accessible to a wide user base

The variety of users of CFDEM®project is huge, some of you might be “power users” of LIGGGHTS® and CFDEM®coupling, speaking the “languages” of the respective text interfaces fluently, and ready to embark on the C++ programming level. But many of you might just want to use the power of LIGGGHTS® and CFDEM®coupling without having to learn the languages of the text interface – in that case, CFDEM®workbench is the right product for you. We have a “STARTER” version available at no license fee, and a “PRO” version with more functionalities.

Some points why we are sure that we’re doing the right thing to the benefit of everyone:

  • You don’t need to buy CFDEM®workbench to use LIGGGHTS® and CFDEM®coupling.
  • LIGGGHTS® and CFDEM®coupling are open source, and will stay open source.
  • LIGGGHTS® and CFDEM®coupling will not be “caged” into a commercial product, the source code will still be accessible.
  • You can still run as many simulations as you like, and enjoy all the other freedoms of the Open Source License.
  • If you are using LIGGGHTS® / CFDEM®coupling at a level where you can actively contribute to the development yourself, you probably don’t need CFDEM®workbench.
    If you like CFDEM®workbench we’d be happy if you buy it, use it, and help us make it even better. Also keep in mind that this will help us allocate resources for the further development of CFDEM®project.


We all at CFDEM®project are looking forward to continue our efforts to provide excellent open source software in fluid mechanics and particle science. We're looking forward to the challenges ahead and are happy for everyone who joins us on this way!

If you have any feed-back on this statement, please contact us.