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Choosing a Solver in SolidWorks Simulation

Summary and Recommendations

SolidWorks Simulation has four options for solvers: Auto, FFEPlus, Direct Sparse, and Large
Problem Direct Sparse. SimulationXpress uses FFEPlus solely.

If you are new to Simulation, always use Auto. SolidWorks will pick the most efficient and most
accurate solver for the particular study automatically.

The rest of this document will contain specifics on when the solvers will be less efficient and less

FFEPlus is an iterative solver that uses implicit integration method. Each iteration the solution is
assumed and errors are evaluated. Iteration continues until errors are small enough. Thus, in
general, if the study contains more than 100,000 DOF, it is more efficient and more accurate to
use FFEPlus.

Will fail or be less accurate if there is:

Incompatible mesh and any local bonded contact sets not automatically covered by global
bonded contact
Gravity or external forces in a frequency
analysis Your order of solver choice in Nonlinear
Base excitation in a linear dynamic study analysis should be Direct Sparse,
A large difference in moduli of elasticity FFEPlus, then Large Problem Direct
between parts Sparse.
Imported pressure or temperature results
from other studies -Joe Engineer, Know It All,
Circular/cyclic symmetry boundary conditions GoEngineer
Nonlinear analysis

Less efficient than Direct Sparse if using:

No Penetration contact, especially with friction affects
Mixed meshing between beams and solids (if running SolidWorks 2011 and below)
Virtual wall boundary condition
Pin and rigid connections
Soft springs

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Direct Sparse
Produces a direct solution using exact numerical techniques. Sparse refers to the sparsity
(zeroes) in the matricies that it uses to find a solution. In general it has a higher level of accuracy in
small to medium sized problems. It is faster when more memory is available, however memory
requirements will increase faster than the size of the part increases. Use the Direct Sparse solver in
small and medium sized problems, if FFEPlus will produce less accurate results, and if doing a
Nonlinear analysis.

Will fail or be less accurate if there is:

Instability in the model
Rigid body modes If Direct Sparse fails and FFEPlus does not, that
Millions of Degrees of Freedom (DOF) does not mean your results are accurate! Check
your boundary conditions!
Less efficient than FFEPlus if:
Over 100,000 DOF in general analysis -Joe Engineer, Know It All, GoEngineer
Over 50,000 DOF in Nonlinear studies
Over 500,000 DOF in Thermal studies

Large Problem Direct Sparse

The LPDS Solver is the Direct Sparse solver with the ability to calculate using multiple
cores. Thus, use the LPDS solver if the Direct Sparse solver is required and there is not
enough RAM. It may sound like it should replace Direct Sparse, but that is not the case.
Use LPDS only as a last resort.

The automatic option uses FFEPlus until certain conditions are seen in the study. SolidWorks
provides the following list for the current reasons Simulation switches from FFEPlus to Direct
Amount of RAM available before solver is launched
If solver goes out of core before calculation completes
Large displacement turned on
Presence of Remote Loads
Presence of Connectors
Percentage of elements that are shells
During convergence for No Penetration contacts
Number of contact elements (generated during the solve) based on all contact definitions
Bonded contact between mixed mesh elements (2011 and below)
Circular symmetry
In-plane loading
Frequency shift option turned on

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