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ANSYS Utilities
An introduction to using ANSYS, including a quick explanation of the stages of analysis, how
to start ANSYS, and the use of the windows in ANSYS, and using Pro/ENGINEER with
Introduction to Finite Element Analysis
A brief introduction of the 3 stages involved in finite element analysis.

Starting up ANSYS
How to start ANSYS using windows NT and Unix X-Windows.

ANSYS Environment
An introduction to the windows used in ANSYS

ANSYS Interface
An explanation of the Graphic User Interface (GUI) in comparison to the command
file approach.

Convergence Testing
This file can help you to determine how small your meshing elements need to be
before you can trust the solution.

Saving/Restoring Jobs
Description of how to save your work in ANSYS and how to resume a previously
saved job.

Definitions of the different files created by ANSYS.

Printing Results
Saving data and figures generated in ANSYS.

ANSYS is a general purpose finite element modeling package for numerically solving a wide
variety of mechanical problems. These problems include: static/dynamic structural analysis
(both linear and non-linear), heat transfer and fluid problems, as well as acoustic and electromagnetic problems.
In general, a finite element solution may be broken into the following three stages. This is a
general guideline that can be used for setting up any finite element analysis.
1. Preprocessing: defining the problem; the major steps in preprocessing are given
o Define keypoints/lines/areas/volumes
o Define element type and material/geometric properties
o Mesh lines/areas/volumes as required
The amount of detail required will depend on the dimensionality of the analysis (i.e.
1D, 2D, axi-symmetric, 3D).
2. Solution: assigning loads, constraints and solving; here we specify the loads (point
or pressure), contraints (translational and rotational) and finally solve the resulting set
of equations.
3. Postprocessing: further processing and viewing of the results; in this stage one
may wish to see:
o Lists of nodal displacements
o Element forces and moments
o Deflection plots
o Stress contour diagrams

Starting up ANSYS

Starting up ANSYS
Large File Sizes
ANSYS can create rather large files when running and saving; be sure that your local drive
has space for it.
Getting the Program Started
In the Mec E 3-3 lab, there are two ways that you can start up ANSYS:
1. Windows NT application
2. Unix X-Windows application

Windows NT Start Up
Starting up ANSYS in Windows NT is simple:
Start Menu
Run Interactive Now
Unix X-Windows Start Up
Starting the Unix version of ANSYS involves a few more steps:
in the task bar at the bottom of the screen, you should see something labeled X-Win32.
If you don't see this minimized program, you can may want to reboot the computer, as
it automatically starts this application when booting.
right click on this menu and selection Sessions and then select Mece.
you will now be prompted to login to GPU... do this.
once the Xwindows emulator has started, you will see an icon at the bottom of the
screen that looks like a paper and pencil; don't select this icon, but rather, click on the
up arrow above it and select Terminal
a terminal command window will now start up
in that window, type xansys57
at the UNIX prompt and a small launcher menu will appear.

select the Run Interactive Now menu item.

ANSYS 7.0 Environment

The ANSYS Environment for ANSYS 7.0 contains 2 windows: the Main Window and an
Output Window. Note that this is somewhat different from the previous version of ANSYS
which made use of 6 different windows.
1. Main Window

Within the Main Window are 5 divisions:

a. Utility Menu
The Utility Menu contains functions that are available throughout the ANSYS
session, such as file controls, selections, graphic controls and parameters.
b. Input Lindow
The Input Line shows program prompt messages and allows you to type in
commands directly.
c. Toolbar
The Toolbar contains push buttons that execute commonly used ANSYS
commands. More push buttons can be added if desired.

d. Main Menu
The Main Menu contains the primary ANSYS functions, organized by
preprocessor, solution, general postprocessor, design optimizer. It is from this
menu that the vast majority of modelling commands are issued. This is where
you will note the greatest change between previous versions of ANSYS and
version 7.0. However, while the versions appear different, the menu structure
has not changed.
e. Graphics Window
The Graphic Window is where graphics are shown and graphical picking can
be made. It is here where you will graphically view the model in its various
stages of construction and the ensuing results from the analysis.
2. Output Window

The Output Window shows text output from the program, such as listing of data etc. It is
usually positioned behind the main window and can de put to the front if necessary.

ANSYS Interface
Graphical Interface vs. Command File Coding
There are two methods to use ANSYS. The first is by means of the graphical user interface or
GUI. This method follows the conventions of popular Windows and X-Windows based
The second is by means of command files. The command file approach has a steeper learning
curve for many, but it has the advantage that an entire analysis can be described in a small text
file, typically in less than 50 lines of commands. This approach enables easy model
modifications and minimal file space requirements.
The tutorials in this website are designed to teach both the GUI and the command file
approach, however, many of you will find the command file simple and more efficient to use
once you have invested a small amount of time into learning the code.
For information and details on the full ANSYS command language, consult:
Help > Table of Contents > Commands Manual.

FEM Convergence Testing

A fundamental premise of using the finite element procedure is that the body is sub-divided
up into small discrete regions known as finite elements. These elements defined by nodes and
interpolation functions. Governing equations are written for each element and these elements
are assembled into a global matrix. Loads and constraints are applied and the solution is then
The Problem
The question that always arises is: How small do I need to make the elements before I can
trust the solution?
What to do about it...
In general there are no real firm answers on this. It will be necessary to conduct convergence
tests! By this we mean that you begin with a mesh discretization and then observe and record
the solution. Now repeat the problem with a finer mesh (i.e. more elements) and then compare
the results with the previous test. If the results are nearly similar, then the first mesh is
probably good enough for that particular geometry, loading and constraints. If the results
differ by a large amount however, it will be necessary to try a finer mesh yet.
The Consequences
Finer meshes come with a cost however: more calculational time and large memory
requirements (both disk and RAM)! It is desired to find the minimum number of elements that
give you a converged solution.

Beam Models
For beam models, we actually only need to define a single element per line unless we are
applying a distributed load on a given frame member. When point loads are used, specifying
more that one element per line will not change the solution, it will only slow the calculations
down. For simple models it is of no concern, but for a larger model, it is desired to minimize
the number of elements, and thus calculation time and still obtain the desired accuracy.
General Models
In general however, it is necessary to conduct convergence tests on your finite element model
to confirm that a fine enough element discretization has been used. In a solid mechanics
problem, this would be done by creating several models with different mesh sizes and
comparing the resulting deflections and stresses, for example. In general, the stresses will
converge more slowly than the displacement, so it is not sufficient to examine the
displacement convergence.

ANSYS: Saving and Restoring Jobs

Saving Your Job
It is good practice to save your model at various points during its creation. Very often you
will get to a point in the modeling where things have gone well and you like to save it at the
point. In that way, if you make some mistakes later on, you will at least be able to come back
to this point.
To save your model, select Utility Menu Bar -> File -> Save As Jobname.db. Your model will
be saved in a file called jobname.db, where jobname is the name that you specified in the
Launcher when you first started ANSYS.
It is a good idea to save your job at different times throughout the building and analysis of the
model to backup your work incase of a system crash or other unforseen problems.
Recalling or Resuming a Previously Saved Job
Frequently you want to start up ANSYS and recall and continue a previous job. There are two
methods to do this:
1. Using the Launcher...
o In the ANSYS Launcher, select Interactive... and specify the previously
defined jobname.
o Then when you get ANSYS started, select Utility Menu -> File -> Resume
Jobname.db .
o This will restore as much of your database (geometry, loads, solution, etc) that
you previously saved.
2. Or, start ANSYS and select Utitily Menu -> File -> Resume from... and select your
job from the list that appears.

A large number of files are created when you run ANSYS. If you started ANSYS without
specifying a jobname, the name of all the files created will be FILE.* where the * represents
various extensions described below. If you specified a jobname, say Frame, then the created
files will all have the file prefix, Frame again with various extensions:
Database file (binary). This file stores the geometry, boundary conditions and any
Backup of the database file (binary).
Error file (text). Listing of all error and warning messages.
Output of all ANSYS operations (text). This is what normally scrolls in the output
window during an ANSYS session.
Logfile or listing of ANSYS commands (text). Listing of all equivalent ANSYS
command line commands used during the current session.
Depending on the operations carried out, other files may have been written. These files
may contain results, etc.

What to save?
When you want to clean up your directory, or move things from the /scratch directory, what
files do you need to save?
If you will always be using the GUI, then you only require the .db file. This file stores
the geometry, boundary conditions and any solutions. Once the ANSYS has started,
and the jobname has been specified, you need only activate the resume command to
proceed from where you last left off (see Saving and Restoring Jobs).
If you plan on using ANSYS command files, then you need only store your command
file and/or the log file. This file contains a complete listing of the ANSYS commands
used to get you model to its current point. That file may be rerun as is, or edited and
rerun as desired (Command File Creation and Execution).
If you plan to use the command mode of operation, starting with an existing log file, rename it
first so that it does not get over-written or added to, from another ANSYS run.

Printing and Plotting ANSYS Results to a File

Printing Text Results to a File
ANSYS produces lists and tables of many types of results that are normally displayed on the
screen. However, it is often desired to save the results to a file to be later analyzed or included
in a report.
1. Stresses: instead of using 'Plot Results' to plot the stresses, choose 'List Results'. Select
'Elem Table Data', and choose what you want to list from the menu. You can pick
multiple items. When the list appears on the screen in its own window, Select
'File'/'Save As...' and give a file name to store the results.
2. Any other solutions can be done in the same way. For example select 'Nodal Solution'
from the 'List Results' menu, to get displacements.
3. Preprocessing and Solution data can be listed and saved from the 'List' menu in the
'Utility Menu bar'. Save the resulting list in the same way described above.
Plotting of Figures
There are two major routes to get hardcopies from ANSYS. The first is a quick a raster-based
screen dump, while the second is a scalable vector plot.
1.0 Quick Image Save
When you want to quickly save an image of the entire screen or the current 'Graphics
window', select:
'Utility menu bar'/'PlotCtrls'/'Hard Copy ...'.
In the window that appears, you will normally want to select 'Graphics window',
'Monochrome', 'Reverse Video', 'Landscape' and 'Save to:'.
Then enter the file name of your choice.
Press 'OK'
This raster image file may now be printed on a PostScript printer or included in a document.
2.0 Better Quality Plots
The second method of saving a plot is much more flexible, but takes a lot more work to set up
as you'll see...
Normally all ANSYS plots are directed to the plot window on the screen. To save some plots
to a file, to be later printed or included in a document or what have you, you must first
'redirect' the plots to a file by issuing:
'Utility menu bar'/'PlotCtrls'/'Redirect Plots'/'To File...'.
Type in a filename (e.g.: frame.pic) in the 'Selection' Window.
Now issue whatever plot commands you want within ANSYS, remembering that the plots
will not be displayed to the screen, but rather they will be written to the selected file. You can


put as many plots as you want into the plot file. When you are finished plotting what you want
to the file, redirect plots back to the screen using:
'Utility menu bar'/'PlotCtrls'/'Redirect Plots'/'To Screen'.

Display and Conversion

The plot file that has been saved is stored in a proprietary file format that must be converted
into a more common graphic file format like PostScript, or HPGL for example. This is
performed by running a separate program called display. To do this, you have a couple of
1. select display from the ANSYS launcher menu (if you started ANSYS that way)
2. shut down ANSYS or open up a new terminal window and then type display at the
Unix prompt.
Either way, a large graphics window will appear. Decrease the size of this window, because it
most likely covers the window in which you will enter the display plotting commands. Load
your plot file with the following command:
if your plot file is 'plots.pic'. Note that although the file is 'plots.pic' (with a period), Display
wants 'plots,pic'(with a comma). You can display your plots to the graphics window by
issuing the command like
where n is plot number. If you plotted 5 images to this file in ANSYS, then n could be any
number from 1 to 5.
Now that the plots have been read in, they may be saved to printer files of various formats:
1. Colour PostScript: To save the images to a colour postscript file, enter the following
commands in display:
where n is the plot number, as above. You can plot as many images as you want to
postscript files in this manner. For subsequent plots, you only require the plot,n
command as the other options have now been set. Each image is plotted to a postscript
file such as pscrxx.grph, where xx is a number, starting at 00.
Note: when you import a postscript file into a word processor, the postscript image
will appear as blank box. The printer information is still present, but it can only be
viewed when it's printed out to a postscript printer.


Printing it out: Now that you've got your color postscript file, what are you going to do
with it? Take a look here for instructions on colour postscript printing at a couple of
sites on campus where you can have your beautiful stress plot plotted to paper,
overheads or even posters!
2. Black & White PostScript: The above mentioned colour postscript files can get very
large in size and may not even print out on the postscript printer in the lab because it
takes so long to transfer the files to the printer and process them. A way around this is
to print them out in a black and white postscript format instead of colour; besides the
colour specifications don't do any good for the black and white lab printer anyways.
To do this, you set the postscript color option to '3', i.e. and then issue the other
commands as before
Note: when you import a postscript file into a word processor, the postscript image
will appear as blank box. The printer information is still present, but it can only be
viewed when it's printed out to a postscript printer.
3. HPGL: The third commonly used printer format is HPGL, which stands for Hewlett
Packard Graphics Language. This is a compact vector format that has the advantage
that when you import a file of this type into a word processor, you can actually see the
image in the word processor! To use the HPGL format, issue the following
Final Steps
It is wise to rename these plot files as soon as you leave display, for display will
overwrite the files the next time it is run. You may want to rename the postscript files
with an '.eps' extension to indicate that they are encapsulated postscript images. In a
similar way, the HPGL printer files could be given an '.hpgl' extension. This renaming
is done at the Unix commmand line (the 'mv' command).
A list of all available display commands and their options may be obtained by typing:
When complete, exit display by entering