Linear Static FEA Productivity with Simulation Professional

My first exposure to FEA was using SimulationXpress in my first semester of graduate school. Even today, when I hear “Simulation,” I immediately picture finite elements, stress plots and deflection – the tenants of linear static FEA.

Even with the vast capabilities of today’s software, how many projects do you work on that rely on linear static analysis? Sure, it’s the “basics” of deflection, stress and Safety Factor,  but it’s still the best way to evolve a design based on typical design loading.

Mastery of linear static FEA techniques has helped me explore more design options and helped me become a better Simulation user. I’ve found that Simulation Professional really helped with this productivity and growth.

“Sim Pro” is usually the go-to level of tools for other failure mode checks: long-column buckling, modal frequency characteristics, high-cycle fatigue, or thermal. While these are powerful types of analysis tools, the bread and butter of FEA work is linear statics: solving elastic materials for Yield Factor of Safety.

Check out this demo video, which is just under 6 minutes and shows the features and functionality of Simulation Professional that could significantly increase your linear static productivity:

My favorite capabilities in this video are Parametric Optimization and Topology Study. Parametric Optimization lets you explore variations in multiple dimensions. You can either enter discreet or ranges of values for parameters and results, such as Minimum Factor of Safety, and deflection from your Studies are all solved for you as the model dimensions change. This design of experiments is super useful for new product development or continual improvement and redesign.

FIGURE 1 – Parametric Optimization minimizes weight in this structural bracket

 

The new Topology Study is an exciting new Optimization module that solves in reverse. Instead of exploring variations in parametric models, you GROW shapes inside of Volumetric and manufacturing constraints. Solving for the energy pathway from load to fixture, you can get a pretty amazing geometric solution that fuels your engineering creativity.

FIGURE 2– Topology Study result showing more concentrated stress path

 

The Load Case Manager helps when your project requires checking a variety of loading conditions. By specifying all possible loading conditions up-front, a table is used to control magnitude and suppression state for each, so combination loading is easy. Clicking ‘run’ once will generate all of the Max stress, displacement, and Factor of Safety results into one table.

FIGURE 3 – Load case manager set up with inertial loading for airworthiness test

 

The Sub-modeling feature lets you work on just a part of the model…. Basically ‘zoom-in’ on sections of it. And, as long as I keep the interface geometry the same, I can even change parts and re-solve quickly. No need to re-calculate the entire system again. By cranking up the mesh in a sub-model, I can quickly see what’s going on in high-stress regions with greater detail and far less solve time.

FIGURE 4 – Sub-model of a thermal stress result on a PCB microchip

 

Before I start any Linear static analysis, I check if the geometry and loading are axis-symmetric or can be simplified into a plane-stress or plane-strain environment. The 2D Simplification feature can take advantage of these geometry and loading conditions.  By performing a simple slice and reducing a complex system to something way more manageable.  By taking a cross-section of a planar OR axisymmetric model, I can solve these types of simulations in a fraction of the time without sacrificing mesh density. All 2D Simplificaiton results can still be viewed in full 3D, so I won’t confuse anyone else when sharing my findings.

FIGURE 5 – 2D Axisymmetric simplification results, visualized in 2D and 3D

 

These are just my top 5 Simulation Professional capabilities that are highly valuable, even if all I need to do is linear static analysis. I hope you consider an Upgrade to Simulation Professional for YOUR next design analysis project!

 

Originally posted in the SOLIDWORKS Blog.

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