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4/5/2018 SolidWorks Simulation Hacks

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SOLIDWORKS Tech Blog


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Simulation Hacks!
By Solid Solutions Technical Team (http://blogs.solidworks.com/tech/author/solid-solutions-
technical-team) June 26, 2016

A typical static analysis simulation starts off by first choosing the material, selecting fixing
points, applying loads and finally running our set up. However, what if we could change this
type of workflow and continue with our design when some basic information is not yet known?

Testing and validating your designs is always a breeze using SOLIDWORKS Simulation
(https://www.solidsolutions.co.uk/solidworks/Simulation/Packages/default.aspx). Nevertheless,
some designers get easily stuck when it comes to selecting materials and knowing accurate
load magnitudes when simulating.

Have you ever wondered what happens when you change a material in a linear static stress
analysis (https://www.solidsolutions.co.uk/solidworks/Simulation/Features/Linear-Stress-
Analysis.aspx)? Surely if we use a “softer” material like aluminium the stresses should increase
drastically. This might be a shock to some of you (honestly it was to me at first), but the truth
is…. nothing changes!

Let’s take a look at this simple test specimen, we are simulating a tensile test by fixing one end
and applying a load of 2000 N at the other. I have initially selected titanium as my material
and applied a fine mesh setting to obtain accurate results. (Remember to watch out for infinite
stresses!)

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4/5/2018 SolidWorks Simulation Hacks

I quickly obtained my results and noted a maximum stress value of 25.8 MPa at the centre of
the specimen, the smaller area should be the place where stresses are mostly concentrated, so
far so good. Now let’s duplicate this study and only change the material type to aluminium.

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4/5/2018 SolidWorks Simulation Hacks

Did you notice the difference?

Apart from the Yield Strength of the material conveniently placed under the legend, the
maximum stress figures are practically the same. How could this be? Two different materials
and nothing has changed! has my FEA analysis gone completely mental! Actually no, it is doing
its job perfectly fine.

Let’s get back to basics, stress can be calculated by dividing the load by the area, simple as
that. We can quickly check the theory by doing a simple hand calculation. The diameter at the
neck of this part is 10 mm so…

σ=F/A=2000N/((π (10 mm)^2)/4)=25.5 MPa

You can note a slight difference in the results but it’s just because SOLIDWORKS Simulation
uses FEA and not a theoretical approach to achieve results. The key point to remember is that

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4/5/2018 SolidWorks Simulation Hacks

this is a linear static analysis. Apart from the typical assumptions in FEA, displacements are
considered to be very small, therefore the area of the neck should not vary much from its initial
size. In conclusion, material choice does not affect stress results.

Why bother selecting a material in the first place?

Whilst stresses remain the same, displacements and strains are a complete different story.
These figures depend directly on the material properties, so a “softer” material will tend to
deform more than a stronger material, no exciting news there. But with SOLIDWORKS
Simulation (https://www.solidsolutions.co.uk/solidworks/Simulation/Packages/default.aspx)
these displacements can be quickly obtained where hand calculations are often tricky or
practically impossible.

Calculating stresses is easy when you already know the force magnitude, but what if you don’t
know this figure? – Should you wait for this data instead of moving forward? Absolutely not!

Remember that the material is considered to be linear, therefore the loads scale up according
to their magnitude. So if the force is doubled, then the displacement and stresses will also be
multiplied by 2.

How can we exploit these simulation hacks in our design workflow?

Imagine you have just finished designing your part based on the design space you have
available, you know how it will be fixed and have a general understanding on the force
direction acting on the part. Excellent, that’s all we need!

You can now start creating your simulation study, select any material, apply your fixtures and
for the load use a magnitude of 1 N (we’ll see why in a second). I have followed these steps
and applied them to the support bracket in the following figure. I chose aluminium for no
particular reason (to be honest, it was the closest one to my cursor) and found the following
results.

The maximum stress on this analysis is 0.020022 MPa when applying 1 N. But what does this
value mean? You can interpret it as a “Unit Stress Factor”, this magical number will let you
calculate stresses for any load magnitude by using simple multiplication. So if we later find out

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4/5/2018 SolidWorks Simulation Hacks

that the load was in fact 1000 N, then the maximum stresses will consequently be 20.022 MPa.

Do you want to know the maximum load that the part can withstand if it was made from
aluminium? Easy…. divide the Yield Strength by the unit stress factor.

Maximum Load=(Yield Strength)/(Unit Stress Factor)=(27.574200 MPa)/(0.020022


MPa⁄N)=1377.195 N

Do you need the part to resist higher loads? Let’s try using stainless steel.

Maximum Load=(Yield Strength)/(Unit Stress Factor)=(206.807 MPa)/(0.020022


MPa⁄N)=10328.99 N

I have repeated the simulation just to confirm this shortcut by applying a load of 10328.99 N
and selecting the AISI 304 stainless steel.

You can tell from the results that the maximum stress is just below the Yield point, thus
confirming our assumptions. As long as the fixing points do not chance, and the load position
and direction remain the same, we can take full advantage of this simulation approach.

By just creating a single simulation we have managed to obtain maximum stresses and loads in
seconds! It even helped in our material selection process by doing simple hand calculations. I
hope you find this hack interesting yet useful in your everyday simulation, helping you become
a simulation master!

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4/5/2018 SolidWorks Simulation Hacks

I’ll leave you with something you can test just for fun on your own time…duplicate one of your
studies and invert the load direction… Did you notice the difference?

By Romel Cumare

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Solid Solutions Technical Team


(http://www.solidsolutions.co.uk)
Solid Solutions commenced business as a SolidWorks Training and SolidWorks
Support provider in 1998 and has consistently achieved strong growth year-on-
year to become the UK’s leading SolidWorks 3D CAD reseller. Growth has been
completely organic and has been consistently driven by a focus on recruiting the
best from academia and industry and by delivering high quality services to more
than 4,000 customers. Our customers range widely in size and are drawn from a
broad spectrum of industry sectors. SolidWorks software is used by over 2
million engineers and designers across the world. As a company we are
dedicated and focused at providing first class training and support to help you
realise the best return on your investment.

Categories: SOLIDWORKS 2016


(http://blogs.solidworks.com/tech/category/solidworks/solidworks-2016), SOLIDWORKS
Simulation (http://blogs.solidworks.com/tech/category/solidworks-simulation)
Tags: FEA Analysis (/tech/tag/fea-analysis), SOLIDWORKS Simulation (/tech/tag/solidworks-
simulation)

2 Comments The SolidWorks Tech Blog  Linh Linh Overco…

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Join the discussion…

Solid Solutions • 2 years ago


Hi Joe, thanks for your comment.

You made very good points, and yes! Using a 2D analysis would reduce computational
costs. The initial model is so simple that I just went with the most straightforward approach
but many options come into mind like solving a quarter of the model and using symmetry
planes, it’s just the freedom that we can have when using SW Simulation.

About the accuracy, I followed your suggestion and tried a 2D axisymmetric version with a
much finer mesh...Results did not change much (25.848 to 25.836 MPa) and computation
ti tf 5t 1 S f thi it’ t h
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4/5/2018 SolidWorks Simulation Hacks
time went from 5 to 1 sec. So for this case it’s not necessary, mesh convergence was
achieved on the solid model with acceptable running times. (unless you really want those
precious 4 sec!)

For the fixture, I actually used a sliding plane, reason why you don’t see any stress
concentration at the bottom edge. Therefore, the diameter can shrink without any restrictions.
Finally, to fix the model’s axis, I added some split edges at the bottom circular face and fixed
a centre point. I didn’t want to mention every little detail for this case, mostly wanted to show
this type of approach but hopefully this clears some question. Hope you find it useful in you
every day simulations!

All the best,

Romel
△ ▽ • Reply • Share ›

FlowJoe • 2 years ago


Nice post, Romel. Would having used a 2D axisymmetric analysis for the simple test
specimen yielded a more accurate result, because your element size could have been
reduced significantly without additional computing resources. Also the fixed boundary
condition on the one end doesn't allow the material to shrink due to the Poisson effect; here
also you could have taken advantage of half symmetry and applied only a normal
translational restraint (rotational DOF are not needed to be locked because of axisymmetry).
△ ▽ • Reply • Share ›

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