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IntroductiontoSolidModelingUsingSolidWorks2011 SolidWorksSimulationTutorial Page1

Inthistutorial,wewillusetheSolidWorksSimulationfiniteelementanalysis(FEA)programtoanalyze
theresponseofacomponenttoanappliedload.Finiteelementanalysisisapowerfultoolthatallows
engineerstoquicklyanalyzeandrefineadesign.Itcanbeappliedtoproblemsinvolvingvibrations,heat
transfer,fluidflow,andmanyotherareas.ThemostcommonuseofFEAisinstructuralanalysis,and
thisintroductorytutorialwillbelimitedtothatuse.

TherehasbeenmuchdiscussionduringthepastdecadeoverwhoshouldbeusingFEAsoftware.Asthe
softwarehasbecomeeasiertouse,thepotentialformisusehasrisen.Aninexperiencedusercan
quicklyobtainresults,buttheinterpretationoftheresults
requiresknowledgeoftheapplicableengineeringtheories.In
thistutorial,wewillpointoutwherechoicesandassumptions
aremadethatcouldaffecttheaccuracyoftheresults.

Theparttobeanalyzedisthebracketfromthetutorialof
Chapter3.

Openthepartfile.Fromthemain
menu,selectTools:AddInsandcheck
theSolidWorksSimulationbox.Click
OKtoclosethewelcomebox.

Ifyouchecktheboxtotherightofthe
addinname,thenthataddinwillbe
activatedwheneverSolidWorksis
started.MostuserswillprefertoactivatetheSimulationprogramonlywhenitisneededforananalysis.

WhenSolidWorksSimulationisactivated,anewmenuitemiscreated,andaSimulationtabisaddedto
theCommandManager.


ManyofthetoolsintheSimulationGroupoftheCommandManagerhave
anAdvisorfeature.Forexample,ifyouselecttheStudyAdvisorTool,
thenthesoftwareleadsyouthroughseveralquestionstohelpyouchoose
thebestanalysistype.WewillbeskippingtheAdvisorsandselecting
analysisoptionsdirectlyfromthepulldownmenusbeloweachAdvisor
Tool.

ClicktheSimulationtaboftheCommandManager.Fromthepulldown
menuundertheStudyAdvisorTool,selectNewStudy.

Astudydefinesaspecificanalysisanditsresults.Asinglepartfilecanhavemultiplestudies.
IntroductiontoSolidModelingUsingSolidWorks2011 SolidWorksSimulationTutorial Page2


Namethestudy50lbLoad.Clickthecheckmarktoacceptthedefaultanalysis
type(static).

NoticethatthePropertyManagernowshowsasplitscreenwiththemodel
parametersshownontopandtheanalysistoolsshownbelow.Notethatanewtab
hasbeenaddedatthebottomofthescreen.Thisallowsyoutotogglebetweenthe
solidmodelandtheanalysis(anewtabwillbecreatedforeachnewstudy).

AnalysisType:Inastaticanalysis,weassumethatthatloadsareappliedslowly.Ifloadsareapplied
almostinstantaneously,thendynamiceffectsneedtobeconsidered.Alinearstaticanalysisassumes
thattheresponseofthestructureislinearforexample,a20lbloadproducesstressesand
deflectionsthatareexactlytwicethatofa10lbload.However,ifthedeflectionsarerelativelylarge,
thenthestiffnessofthepartchangesasthepartdeflects.Inthatcase,alargedeflectionanalysis,in
whichtheloadisappliedincrementallyandthestiffnessrecalculatedateverystep,mayberequired.

InChapter3,weappliedABSasthematerialofthebracket(ABSstandsforAcrylonitrilebutadiene
styrene,acommonthermoplasticusedinavarietyofapplications).Wecanacceptthismaterialforour
analysis,selectanothermaterialfromalibraryofSolidWorksmaterials,orenterpropertiesmanually.
AnexcellentsourceforpropertydataistheonlinedatabaseMatWeb(matweb.com).Ifyouenter
ABSasasearchterminthisdatabase,thenyouwillfindalmost2000listings.Itisimportanttoknow
thepropertiesofthespecificmaterialthatistobeused,asthepropertiescanvarywidelyfordifferent
grades,additives,fillers,andsuppliers.WewilluseageneralpurposeABSfromGlobalPolymers
Corporation,ABS406.ThefollowingpropertiesareobtainedfromMatWeb:
E(Elasticmodulus)=320,000psi
Yieldstrength=6100psi
Massdensity=0.0376lb/in
3

ClicktheApplyMaterialtool.IntheMaterialWindow,collapsethe
SolidWorksMaterialsandexpandtheCustom
Materials.RightclickonthePlasticgroupofthe
CustomMaterialsandchooseNewMaterial.

IntroductiontoSolidModelingUsingSolidWorks2011 SolidWorksSimulationTutorial Page3


EnterBracketABS:asthematerialname.ChooseEnglish(IPS)fortheunits.Leavethedefault
materialtypeasLinearElasticIsotropicandthedefaultfailurecriterionasMaxvonMisesStress.Click
oneachpropertyvalueandenterthevaluesaboveintheproperplaces.Alsoenteravalueof0.40for
thePoissonsratio(thisisatypicalvalueforaplastic).Onlythefourpropertiesshowninredare
requiredforthisanalysis;othervaluesmaybedeleted.ClickApplytoapplyandsavetheproperties,
andthenclickClose.

Material:OneofthemostimportantinputstothemodelistheelasticmodulusEofthematerial.The
elasticmodulusdefinesthestiffness(resistancetodeflection)ofthematerial.Itsvalueisdetermined
frommaterialtests.AmaterialwithahighvalueofEwilldeflectlessthanonewithalowervalueof
E.Forcomparison,steelhasanEvalueofabout30,000,000psi(poundspersquareinch).Aluminum
hasanEvalueof10,000,000psi.TheABSplasticthatwehavechosenhasavalueforEof320,000
psi,soitisabout100timeslessstiffthansteel.
Anassumptionofourmodelisthatthematerialsbehaviorisperfectlylinear,sothatthedeflectionis
exactlyproportionaltotheload.Thismodelisanidealizationformanyplasticmaterials,which
exhibitsomeamountofnonlinearbehavior.
Mostmaterialsreachapointbeforetheybreakatwhichadditionalloadingproducesmuchlarger
deflections.Wesaythatthematerialhasyieldedatthispoint,andourlinearmodelisnotvalid
beyondtheyieldpointofthematerial.

IntroductiontoSolidModelingUsingSolidWorks2011 SolidWorksSimulationTutorial Page4


Wenowneedtoconsiderhowthebracketisconstrained(theboundaryconditions)andwhatforces
thatitwillbesubjectedto(theloadings).

FromthepulldownmenubelowtheFixturesAdvisor,selectFixed
Geometry.Rotatetheviewuntilthebacksurfaceofthebracketis
visible,andclickthebacksurface.Clickthecheckmarktoapply
theconstraint.

BoundaryConditions:Whenacomponentisisolatedforanalysis,thewayinwhichthatcomponentis
attachedtoanothermustbesimulatedwithboundaryconditions.Inthiscase,wehavechosena
fixedrestraint,whichmeansthateverypointonthebackfaceofthebracketispreventedfrom
movinginanydirection.Whilethisseemstobeareasonableassumption,itmaynotbeentirely
accurate.Ifscrewsareusedtoattachthebrackettoawall,thenthetopscrewsmaystretchenough
toallowthetopofthebrackettoseparatefromthewall.Also,thewallitselfmaydeflectslightly.
Thechoiceofproperboundaryconditionstosimulateactualconstraintsisoftenoneofthemost
importantdecisionstobemadeforananalysis.

FromthepulldownmenubelowtheExternalLoadsAdvisor,selectPressure.Clickonthefacearound
theinchholeasshownhere.Setthepressureas84.9psi(besuretosettheunitstopsi).

IntroductiontoSolidModelingUsingSolidWorks2011 SolidWorksSimulationTutorial Page5


Thepressureiscalculatedfromthe50lbloadappliedtothesurface,whichisoneinchindiameterwith
ainchholeinthecenter:
p =
Su lb
|

4
,
(1
2
- u.S
2
)]in
2
= 84.9 psi

Notethatoftenaloadorconstraintistobeappliedtoonlyaportionofanexistingfaceoredge.In
thesecases,theuseofasplitlinecanbehelpful.Asplitlinesimplydividesafaceintomultiplefaces
thatcanbeselectedseparately.SeetheSolidWorkshelpfilesforinformationaboutcreatingsplitlines.

FromthepulldownmenubelowtheRunTool,selectCreateMesh.Movethesliderbartowardthe
right(fine)andclickthecheckmark.

Whencomplete,themeshwillbedisplayed.

MeshSize:Afinermesh,withmoreelements,willgenerallyproducemoreaccurateresultsatthe
expenseoflongerprocessingtime.Forsimplepartsandarelativelyfastcomputer,thelonger
processingtimeisnotsignificant.However,forcomplexanalyses(suchasnonlinearandtime
dependentanalyses),meshsizecansignificantlyimpactprocessingtime.Howmanyelementsare
neededforaccuracy?Sometimesitisnecessarytoexperimentwithdifferentmeshesuntiltheresults
convergetoasolution.Inothercases,themeshcanberefinedtocreatemoreelementsinalocal
areawherestressesaregreatest.

ElementType:Therearemanyelementtypes,suchasplates,shells,trussmembers,beamelements,
andsolidelements.SolidWorksSimulationallowsforsolidelementstobecreatedfromsolids,or
shellelementstobecreatedfromeithersurfacesorsolidmidsurfaces.Althoughsolidelementsare
typicallychosenwhenasolidmodelisavailable,solidelementsarenotalwaysthebestchoicefor
manyapplications.Often,afewbeamorshellelementswillprovidemoreaccurateresultsthan
hundredsofsolidelements.

FromthepulldownmenubelowtheRunTool,selectRun.

IntroductiontoSolidModelingUsingSolidWorks2011 SolidWorksSimulationTutorial Page6


Whiletheanalysisisbeingperformed,astatusboxwillappearon
thescreen.ClickingtheMorebuttonwilldisplayadditionaldetails
abouttheanalysis.Forthisanalysis,about20,500elementswere
created(yournumbermaybemoreorless,dependingonhowfar
totherightyoumovedthemeshsizesliderbar).Thereareabout
35,000nodes,orpointswheretheelementsmeet.Eachnodehas
threedegreesoffreedom,orpossibledisplacement,exceptfor
thoseonthebackfacethathavebeenconstrained.Eachdegreeof
freedomhasanassociatedequationforitsdisplacement.While
thesolverisrunning,theseequationsarebeingformulatedand
solved.

Thisanalysisshouldtakeonlyafewsecondsonareasonablyfastcomputer.(Aremarkablefeat,
consideringtherearealmost100,000simultaneousequationstobesolved!)Aftertheanalysisis
complete,resultscanbeviewedinseveralways.Bydefault,thevonMisesstressesareshown.

IfthestressesareshowninSIunits,rightclickontheitemcalledStress1intheResultsgroupand
chooseEditDefinition.LeavethetypeofstressshownasvonMises,andsettheunitstopsi.Clickthe
checkmark.

RightclickonStress1andchooseChartOptions.ChecktheboxlabeledShowmaxannotation.Also,
changethenumericdisplaytofloating,withnodecimalplacesshown.Clickthecheckmark.

Theresultingplotisshownhere.Notethe
valueofthemaximumstress,about3,690
psi,whichoccursinthecenterrib.(Your
valuesmaydifferslightly,dependingon
themeshsizechosen.)

IntroductiontoSolidModelingUsingSolidWorks2011 SolidWorksSimulationTutorial Page7

Stress:Thesimplestdefinitionofstressisthatstressisequaltoforceperunitarea.Therefore,the
unitsofstressarepoundspersquareinchornewtonspersquaremeter(pascals).However,stressis
notasinglevalue.Therearenormalstressesinallthreedirections.Normalstressescauseamaterial
tostretchorcontract.Therearealsoshearstressesinallthreeplanes.Shearstressescausea
materialtowarpordistort.Thesesixstresscomponentsareoftencombinedtofindprincipal
stresses.
Strengthisdefinedasthestressatwhichamaterialwillfail.Therefore,forasimplestateofstress,
suchasawirebeingstretchedinonedirection,wecansimplycomparethestresstothestrengthto
determineifthewirewillbreak.Foramorecomplexstateofstress,wemustchooseafailuretheory
inordertopredictwhetherornotthepartwillfail.OneofthemostwidelyusedinthevonMises,or
maximumdistortionenergytheory.Inouranalysis,thesoftwarecomputedthevonMisesequivalent
stress,whichcanbecomparedtothematerialsyieldstrengthtopredictyieldingofthepart.Inour
case,themaximumvonMisesstressisabout3700psi.Ifthematerialsyieldstrengthis6100psi,
thenweconcludethatthepartwillnotfail.However,thefactorofsafetyof6100/3700=1.65is
probablymuchlowerthanwewouldliketohaveinmostapplications.Thefactorofsafetyischosen
toaccountforallofthemanyuncertaintiesassociatedwiththeanalysis(loading,materialproperties,
environmentaldegradationofmaterial,etc.)Insomeindustries,factorsofsafetyof10ormoreare
common.Inaerospaceapplications,whereweightiscritical,factorsofsafetyoflessthantwoare
typical.Whenalowerfactorofsafetyisused,extensivematerialtestingandanalysisareusedto
reduceuncertaintyasmuchasispractical.
Thedefinitionoffailureshouldalsobementionedhere.Ultimatefailurereferstothefractureofthe
material.However,weusuallysaythataparthasfailedifthematerialhasyielded,sothatadditional
loadingproduceslargedeflections.Insomeapplications,excessivedeflectionitselfmaybedefinedas
failure.

RightclicktheplotcalledDisplacement1andselectShow.RightclickagainandchooseEdit
Definition.Settheunitstoinches.RightclickathirdtimeandselectChartOptions.Setthenumerical
displaytofloating,withthreedecimalplaces.

IntroductiontoSolidModelingUsingSolidWorks2011 SolidWorksSimulationTutorial Page8


Themaximumdeflectionisshownasabout0.212inches.Thisvalueistheresultantofthedeflectionin
allthreedirections.Ifyouchangethedeflectiontypetotheydirectiondisplacementonly,youwillsee
thatthedownwarddeflectionaccountsforalmosttheentiremagnitudeoftheresultant.

Notethatthedeflectionsareexaggeratedinthedisplayofthedeflectedshape.Sincethedeflectionsof
moststructuralpartsareusuallyverysmall,scalingtheirvaluestoproducethedeflectedshapeisa
commonpractice.Thedeflectedshapegivestheengineerinsightintothebehaviorofthestructure,
beyondthenumericalresults.

Hopefully,thisexercisehasshownthatfiniteelementanalysisisanincrediblyusefultooltosupplement
engineeringanalysis,andthatusingFEAcorrectlyrequiresagreatdealofengineeringjudgment.For
structuralanalysis,acourseinmechanicsofmaterials,usuallytakenatthesophomoreorjuniorlevel,is
agoodstart.Inthiscourse,youwilllearnaboutstress,strain,anddeflection,andtherelationships
betweenthem.Mechanicalandaerospaceengineerswillalsotakemoreadvancedcoursesdealingwith
fatigue(repeatedloadings)andvibrationsofmachines.Civilengineerswillalsostudyvibrationsfor
earthquakeanalysis.Anintroductorycourseinfiniteelementtheoryisalsorecommendedforanyone
whowillberesponsibleforconductinganalysis.

Also,thetoolsavailableareconstantlychanging.Practicingengineersneedtokeepupwiththenewest
toolsthroughconstantreeducationandtraining.