2D vs. 3D Models

Because 2D models have less degrees of freedom than their 3D counterparts, execution times are considerably reduced. Another advantage of 2D modeling is the possibility to analyze simulation results in a much more straightforward way. For example, visualization of results is much easier in 2D. For these reasons, it is often preferable to perform 2D simulations when possible. There are, however, certain limitations inherent in using a two-dimensional code to model physical phenomena that are three dimensional in nature. These limitations must be kept in mind when formulating 2D models and interpreting results. Despite these limitations, constructing simplified 2D models to validate hypotheses about phenomena or numerical algorithms should be encouraged at any stage of the modeling work, if possible. Even with a 3D software package, it is usually possible to create a 2D “slice” as a first modeling step.