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Module 10

Meshing

Meshing

Overview
Recall that meshing is a three-step procedure:
Define element attributes
Specify mesh controls
Generate the mesh

In this chapter, we will expand on each of these steps and


also discuss additional meshing options.

Topics covered:
A. Multiple Element Attributes

E. Hex-to-Tet Meshing

B. Controlling Mesh Density

F. Mesh Extrusion

C. Changing a Mesh

G. Sweep Meshing

D. Mapped Meshing

H. Workshop

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Meshing

A. Multiple Element Attributes

As we discussed earlier, every element has the following attributes


associated with it:
Element type (TYPE)
Real constants (REAL)
Material properties (MAT)

Most FEA models have multiple attributes. For example, the silo
shown here has two element types, three real constant sets, and two
materials.
TYPE 1 = shell
TYPE 2 = beam

MAT 1 = concrete
MAT 2 = steel

REAL 1 = 3/8 thickness


REAL 2 = beam properties
REAL 3 = 1/8 thickness

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...Multiple Element Attributes

Whenever you have multiple TYPEs, REALs and MATs, you


need to make sure that each element is assigned the proper
attributes. There are three ways to do this:
Assign attributes to the solid model entities before meshing
Activate a global setting of MAT, TYPE, and REAL before
meshing
Modify element attributes after meshing

If no assignments are made, ANSYS uses default settings of


MAT=1, TYPE=1, and REAL=1 for all elements in the model.
Note, the current active TYPE, REAL, and MAT dictates mesh
operation.

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Meshing

...Multiple Element Attributes


1. Define all necessary element types, materials,
and real constant sets.
2. Then use the Element Attributes section of
the MeshTool (Preprocessor > MeshTool):
Choose entity type and press the SET button.
Pick the entities to which you want to assign
attributes.
Set the appropriate attributes in the subsequent
dialog box.

Or select the desired entities and use the


VATT, AATT, LATT, or KATT command.
3. When you mesh an entity, its attributes are
automatically transferred to the elements.

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Assigning Attributes to the Solid Model

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Meshing

...Multiple Element Attributes


1. Define all necessary element types,
materials, and real constant sets.
2. Then use the Element Attributes
section of the MeshTool (Preprocessor >
MeshTool):
Choose Global and press the SET button.
Activate the desired combination of
attributes in the Meshing Attributes
dialog box. We refer to these as the
active TYPE, REAL, and MAT settings.

Or use the TYPE, REAL, and MAT


commands.
3. Mesh only those entities to which the
above settings apply.

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Using Global Attribute Settings

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Meshing

...Multiple Element Attributes

Training Manual

1. Define all necessary element types, materials, and real constant


sets.
2. Activate the desired combination of TYPE, REAL, and MAT settings:
Preprocessor > -Attributes- Define > Default Attribs...
Or use the TYPE, REAL, and MAT commands

3. Modify the attributes of only those elements to which the above


settings apply:
Issue EMODIF,PICK or choose Preprocessor > Move/Modify > -ElementsModify Attrib
Then pick the desired elements

4. In the subsequent dialog box,


set attributes to All to current.

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Modifying Element Attributes

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Meshing

...Multiple Element Attributes

Training Manual

You can verify element attributes by


activating attribute numbering:
Utility Menu > PlotCtrls > Numbering
Or /PNUM,attr,ON, where attr may be TYPE,
MAT, or REAL

Element attributes assigned directly to solid model entities will


override the default attribute pointers.

By assigning attributes to solid model entities, you can avoid having


to reset attributes in the middle of meshing operations. This is
advantageous because ANSYS meshing algorithms are most
efficient when meshing all entities at once.

Clearing a solid model entity of its mesh will not delete attribute
assignments.

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Some points to keep in mind:

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Meshing

...Multiple Element Attributes


Demo:
Resume ribgeom.db

List element types, real constants, and materials. One of each


has been defined.
Bring up MeshTool, choose area attributes, and press Set
Pick the single area, show the Area Attributes dialog box, and
press OK. (There is only one set of attributes, but this illustrates
the general procedure.)

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Meshing

B. Controlling Mesh Density

ANSYS provides many tools to control mesh density, both on


a global and local level:
Global controls
SmartSizing
Global element sizing
Default sizing
Local controls
Keypoint sizing
Line sizing
Area sizing

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...Controlling Mesh Density

Training Manual

Determines element sizes by assigning divisions on all lines,


taking into account curvature of the line, its proximity to
holes and other features, and element order.

SmartSizing is off by default, but is recommended for free


meshing. It does not affect mapped meshing. (Free meshing
vs. mapped meshing will be discussed later.)

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SmartSizing

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Meshing

...Controlling Mesh Density


To use SmartSizing:
Bring up the MeshTool (Preprocessor > MeshTool),
turn on SmartSizing, and set the desired size level.
Or use SMRT,level
Size level ranges from 1 (very fine) to 10 (very
coarse). Defaults to 6.
Then mesh all volumes (or all areas) at once, rather
than one-by-one.

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...Controlling Mesh Density


Examples of different SmartSize
levels are shown here for a
tetrahedron mesh.

Advanced SmartSize controls,


such as mesh expansion and
transition factors, are available
on the SMRT command (or
Preprocessor > -Meshing- Size
Cntrls > -SmartSize- Adv Opts...)

You can turn off SmartSizing


using the MeshTool or by
issuing smrt,off.

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...Controlling Mesh Density

Allows you to specify a maximum element edge length


for the entire model (or number of divisions per line):
ESIZE,SIZE
or Preprocessor > MeshTool > Size Controls - Global [Set]
or Preprocessor > -Meshing- Size Cntrls > -Global- Size

Can be used by itself or in conjunction


with SmartSizing.
Using ESIZE by itself (SmartSizing off) will
result in a uniform element size throughout
the volume (or area) being meshed.
With SmartSizing on, ESIZE acts as a
guide, but the specified size may be
overridden to accommodate line curvature
or proximity to features.

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Global Element Sizing

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Meshing

...Controlling Mesh Density

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If you dont specify any controls, ANSYS uses default sizing,


which assigns minimum and maximum line divisions, aspect
ratio, etc. based on element order.

Meant for mapped meshing, but is also used for free meshing
if SmartSizing is off.

You can adjust default size specifications using DESIZE or


Preprocessor > -Meshing- Size Cntrls > -Global- Other.

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Default Sizing

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...Controlling Mesh Density

Controls element size at keypoints:


Preprocessor > MeshTool > Size Controls: Keypt [Set]
or KESIZE command
or Preprocessor > -Meshing- Size Cntrls > -Keypoints-

Different keypoints can have different KESIZEs,


giving you more control over the mesh.

Useful for stress concentration regions.

Specified sizes may be overridden by SmartSizing


to accommodate line curvature or proximity to
features.

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Keypoint Sizing

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Meshing

...Controlling Mesh Density

Controls element size at lines:

Preprocessor > MeshTool > Size Controls: Lines


[Set]

or LESIZE command

or Preprocessor > -Meshing- Size Cntrls > -Lines-

Different lines can have different LESIZEs.

Size specifications may be hard or soft.

Hard sizes are always honored by the


mesher, even if SmartSizing is on. They take
precedence over all other size controls.

Soft sizes may be overridden by SmartSizing.

You can also specify a spacing ratio ratio of


last division to first. Used to bias the
divisions towards one end or towards the
middle.

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Line Sizing

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Yes for soft


No for hard

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...Controlling Mesh Density

Controls element size in the interior of areas:


Preprocessor > MeshTool > Size Controls: Areas [Set]
or AESIZE command
or Preprocessor > -Meshing- Size Cntrls > -Areas-

Different areas can have different AESIZEs.

Bounding lines will use the specified size only if they


have no LESIZE or KESIZE specified and if no
adjacent area has a smaller size.

Specified sizes may be overridden by SmartSizing to


accommodate line curvature or proximity to features.

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Area Sizing

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Meshing

...Controlling Mesh Density


Demo:
Resume ribgeom.db
Mesh with SMRT,6. (Not a very good mesh)
Re-mesh with SMRT,3 (good mesh)

Set ESIZE to 0.2 and re-mesh. The mesh becomes coarse even
though SMRT is set to 3, because the smart-mesher takes ESIZE
into account. Also note that the element sizes are not uniform
(because SMRT is on).
Turn off SMRT and re-mesh. Element sizes are now uniform.

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Meshing

C. Changing a Mesh
If a mesh is not acceptable, you can always
re-mesh the model by following these steps:
1. Clear the mesh.
The clear operation is the opposite of mesh:
it removes nodes and elements.
Use the [Clear] button on the MeshTool, or
use VCLEAR, ACLEAR, etc.
(If you are using the MeshTool, you may skip this
step since the program will prompt you whether
to clear or not when you execute
step 3.)
2. Specify new or different mesh controls.
3. Mesh again.

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...Changing a Mesh
Another meshing option is to refine
the mesh in specific regions.
Available for all area elements and
only tetrahedral volume elements.
Easiest way is to use the MeshTool:
First save the database.
Then choose how you want to
specify the region of refinement
at nodes, elements, keypoints,
lines, or areas and press the
Refine button.
Pick the entities at which you
want the mesh to be refined. (Not
required if you choose All
Elems.)
Finally, choose the level of
refinement. Level 1 (minimal
refinement) is a good starting
point.

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Meshing

...Changing a Mesh
Demo:

Continuing the last demo (ribgeom has been meshed with


ESIZE = 0.2)
Choose refinement at Lines and press Refine
Pick the top line, then choose the default minimal refinement

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D. Mapped Meshing
There are two main meshing methods: free and
mapped.

Free Mesh
Has no element shape restrictions.
The mesh does not follow any pattern.
Suitable for complex shaped areas and volumes.

Mapped Mesh
Restricts element shapes to quadrilaterals for
areas and hexahedra (bricks) for volumes.
Typically has a regular pattern with obvious rows
of elements.
Suitable only for regular areas and volumes
such as rectangles and bricks.

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...Mapped Meshing
+ Easy to create; no need to
divide complex shapes into
regular shapes.
Volume meshes can contain
only tetrahedra, resulting in a
large number of elements.
Only higher-order (10-node)
tetrahedral elements are
acceptable, so the number of
DOF can be very high.

Mapped Mesh
+ Generally contains a lower
number of elements.
+ Lower-order elements may be
acceptable, so the number of
DOF is lower.
Areas and volumes must be
regular in shape, and mesh
divisions must meet certain
criteria.
Very difficult to achieve,
especially for complex shaped
volumes.

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Free Mesh

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Meshing

...Mapped Meshing

Free meshing is the default setting for both


area and volume meshes.

Create a free mesh is easy:


Bring up the MeshTool and verify that free
meshing is set.
SmartSizing is generally recommended for free
meshing, so activate it and specify a size level.
Save the database.
Then initiate the mesh by pressing the Mesh
button.
Press [Pick All] in the picker to choose all
entities (recommended).
Or use the commands VMESH,ALL or
AMESH,ALL.

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Creating a Free Mesh

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Meshing

...Mapped Meshing

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This is not as easy as free meshing because the areas and


volumes have to meet certain requirements:
Area must contain either 3 or 4 lines (triangle or quadrilateral).
Volume must contain either 4, 5, or 6 areas (tetrahedron,
triangular prism, or hexahedron).
Element divisions on opposite sides must match.
For triangular areas or tetrahedral volumes, the number of
element divisions must be even.

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Creating a Mapped Mesh

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...Mapped Meshing

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For quadrilateral areas or hexahedral volumes, unequal


divisions are allowed, as shown in these examples, but the
number of divisions must satisfy a formula (shown on the
next page).

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...Mapped Meshing

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...Mapped Meshing
Thus mapped meshing involves a three-step procedure:

Ensure regular shapes, i.e, areas with 3 or 4 sides, or volumes


with 4, 5, or 6 sides.
Specify size and shape controls
Generate the mesh

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...Mapped Meshing

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In most cases, the model geometry is such that the areas


have more than 4 sides, and volumes have more that 6 sides.
To convert these to regular shapes, you may need to do one
or both of these operations:
Slice the areas (or volumes) into smaller, simpler shapes.
Concatenate two or more lines (or areas) to reduce the total
number of sides.

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Ensure regular shapes

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...Mapped Meshing
Slicing can be accomplished with the Boolean divide
operation.

Remember that you can use the working plane, an area, or a line
as the slicing tool.
Sometimes, it may be easier to create a new line or a new area
than to move and orient the working plane in the correct
direction.

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...Mapped Meshing

Concatenation creates a new line (for meshing purposes)


that is a combination of two or more lines, thereby reducing
the number of lines making up the area.
Use the LCCAT command or Preprocessor > -MeshingConcatenate > Lines, then pick the lines to be concatenated.
For area concatenation, use ACCAT command or Preprocessor >
-Meshing- Concatenate > Areas

Concatenating
these two lines
makes this a
4-sided area

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...Mapped Meshing

You can also imply a concatenation by simply


identifying the three or four corners of the area. In
this case, ANSYS internally generates the
concatenation.
To do this, choose Quad shape and Map mesh in the
MeshTool.
Then change 3/4 sided to Pick corners.
Press the Mesh button, pick the area, and then pick
the 3 or 4 corners that form the regular shape.

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...Mapped Meshing
Notes on concatenation:

It is purely a meshing operation and therefore should be the last step


before meshing, after all solid modeling operations. This is because the
output entity obtained from a concatenation cannot be used in any
subsequent solid modeling operation.
You can "undo" a concatenation by deleting the line or area it produced.
Concatenating areas (for mapped volume meshing) is generally much
more complicated because you may also need to concatenate some
lines. Lines are automatically concatenated only when two adjacent, 4sided areas are concatenated.
Consider the add (Boolean) operation if the lines or areas meet at a
tangent.

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...Mapped Meshing

This is the second step of the three-step mapped


meshing procedure.

Choosing the shape is simple. In the MeshTool,


choose Quad for area meshing, and Hex for volume
meshing, then click on Map.

Commonly used size controls and the order in


which they are applied:
Line sizing [LESIZE] is always honored.
Global element size , if specified, will be applied to
unsized lines.
Default element sizing [DESIZE] will be applied to
unsized lines only if ESIZE is not specified.
(SmartSizing is not valid.)

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Specify size and shape controls

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...Mapped Meshing
If you specify line divisions, remember that:

divisions on opposite sides must match, but you only need to


specify one side. The map mesher automatically transfers
divisions to the opposite side.
if you have concatenated lines, divisions can only be applied to
the original (input) lines, not the composite line.
6 divisions specified on
each original line.
12 divisions will be
automatically applied to
this line (opposite to
composite line).
How many divisions are
used for the other two
lines? (Upcoming demo
will answer it.)

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...Mapped Meshing

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Once you have ensured regular shapes and assigned the


appropriate divisions, generating the mesh is easy. Just
press the Mesh button in the MeshTool, then press [Pick All] in
the picker or choose the desired entities.

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Generate the mapped mesh

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Meshing

...Mapped Meshing
Question: How would
you slice this model for
mapped meshing?

Answer: It may not be worth


the effort!

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...Mapped Meshing
Demo:
Resume ribfull.db

Bring up MeshTool and apply 6 divisions to top and right lines


Map-mesh the area using Pick corners. Notice that the left and
bottom lines get only two divisions each (from DESIZE).
Now specify ESIZE,,4 (4 divisions per line) and re-mesh
Finally, clear line divisions, specify ESIZE,0.1 (size), and re-mesh

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E. Hex-to-Tet Meshing
For volume meshing, we have only seen two
options so far:
Free meshing, which creates an all-tet mesh.
This is easy to achieve but may not be
desirable in some cases because of the large
number of elements and total DOF created.
Mapped meshing, which creates an all-hex
mesh. This is desirable but usually very
difficult to achieve.

Hex-to-tet meshing provides a third option


that is the best of both worlds. It allows
you to have a combination of hex and tet
meshes without compromising the integrity
of the mesh.

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...Hex-to-Tet Meshing

This option works by creating pyramid-shaped elements in the transition


region between hex and tet regions.
Requires the hex mesh to be available (or at least a quad mesh at the shared
area).
The mesher first creates all tets, then combines and rearranges the tet
elements in the transition region to form pyramids.
Available only for element types that support both pyramid and tet shapes, e.g:
Structural SOLID95, 186, VISCO89
Thermal SOLID90
Multiphysics SOLID62, 117, 122

Results are good even in the transition


region. Element faces are compatible
even when transitioning from a linear
hex element to a quadratic tet element.
SOLID95

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...Hex-to-Tet Meshing

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Hex Mesh

Transition Layer

Tet Mesh

Quadratic
to
Quadratic
20-Node Hex

13-Node Pyramid

10-Node Tet

8-Node Hex

9-Node Pyramid

10-Node Tet

Linear
to
Quadratic

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Hex-to-tet meshing is valid for both quadratic-to-quadratic and linear-toquadratic transitions. Element type must support a 9-node pyramid for the
latter.

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...Hex-to-Tet Meshing

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1. Create the hex mesh.


Start by map-meshing the regular-shaped volumes. (Or mesh
the shared areas with quads.)
For stress analysis, use either an 8-node brick (SOLID45 or
SOLID185) or a 20-node brick (SOLID95 or SOLID186).

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Procedure involves four steps:

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...Hex-to-Tet Meshing

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These are usually brick elements that can degenerate into


pyramids and tets. Check the Elements Manual, available online, to find out which element types are valid.
Examples:
Structural SOLID95, 186, VISCO89
Thermal SOLID90
Multiphysics SOLID62, 117, 122

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2. Activate an element type that supports both pyramids and


tets.

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...Hex-to-Tet Meshing
First activate free meshing.
Then mesh the volumes that are to be tet-meshed.

Pyramids are automatically generated at the interface.

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3. Generate the tet mesh.

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...Hex-to-Tet Meshing

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The tet mesh created by the transition mesher consists of


degenerate elements 10-node tetrahedra derived from 20-node
bricks, for example.
These elements are not as efficient as true 10-node tets such as
SOLID92, which use less memory and write smaller files during
solution.
To convert the degenerate tets into true tets:
Preprocessor > -Meshing- Modify Mesh > Change Tets...
Or use the TCHG command.

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4. Convert degenerate tets to true 10-node tets.

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...Hex-to-Tet Meshing
Demo:
Resume hextet.db

Show element type list using Element Type > Add/Edit/Delete.


There are two element types: SOLID45 & 95
Bring up MeshTool and set ESIZE,1 (size)
Map-mesh the regular shaped volume
Set element type to 2, and activate tet-meshing
Free-mesh the other volume
Convert degenerate tets to SOLID92
Show element type list. There are now three element types.
Select elements of type 2 (SOLID95 pyramids) and plot elements

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F. Mesh Extrusion

Training Manual

When you extrude an area into a volume, you can extrude the area elements
along with it, resulting in a meshed volume. This is called mesh extrusion.

Advantage: Easy to create a volume mesh with all bricks (hexahedra) or a


combination of bricks and prisms.

Obvious requirement: Shape of the volume must lend itself to extrusion.

Extrude

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...Mesh Extrusion
1. Define two element types an area
element and a volume element.
Area element: Choose MESH200
quadrilaterals. MESH200 is a meshonly (Not Solved) element and has no
DOFs or material properties
associated with it.
Volume element: Should be
compatible with the MESH200
element type. For example, if you
choose midside nodes for MESH200,
the 3-D solid element should also
have midside nodes.
ET command or Preprocessor >
Element Type > Add/Edit/Delete

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Procedure

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Meshing

...Mesh Extrusion
Use mapped or free meshing with desired mesh density.
Preprocessor > MeshTool

3. Choose element extrusion options.


EXTOPT command or Preprocessor >
Operate > Extrude > Elem Ext Opts
Typical options are:
Active TYPE attribute (should be 3-D
solid).
Number of element divisions in the
extrusion direction (i.e, number of
elements through the thickness). Must
be greater than zero; otherwise, only
the area will be extruded, without
elements.

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2. Mesh the area to be extruded with MESH200 elements.

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...Mesh Extrusion

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First delete concatenated lines, if any. If concatenations are


present, ANSYS will not allow the extrusion operation.
Preprocessor > -Meshing- Concatenate > -Del Concats- Lines
Then extrude the area using any of the extrusion methods.

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4. Extrude the area.

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...Mesh Extrusion
Demo:
Resume ribgeom.db

Bring up the Element Types dialog, delete PLANE82 element


type, and replace it with MESH200 4-node quad
Also add SOLID45 as element type 2
Bring up MeshTool and set ESIZE,0.1
Choose free quad-meshing and mesh the area
Set extrusion options: TYPE=2, number of element divisions = 4
Rotate view to ISO
Extrude area along normal with offset = 0.4
Save the database to ribvol.db

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Meshing

G. Sweep Meshing

Training Manual

Sweep meshing is yet another option available for volume


meshing. It is the process of meshing an existing volume by
sweeping an area mesh.

Similar to mesh extrusion, except that the volume already


exists in this case (from a geometry import, for example).

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...Sweep Meshing
Advantages:

Target surface
(1 area)

Easy to create a volume mesh with all


bricks (hexahedra) or a combination of
bricks and prisms.
Option to tet-mesh volumes that are
not sweepable. Transition pyramids
are automatically generated.

Requirements:
Topology of the volume must be
consistent in the sweep direction.
Example: a block with a through hole
(ok even if the hole is tapered).
Source and target surfaces must be
single areas. Concatenated areas are
not allowed for either the source or the
target.

Source surface
(1 area)

Valid for sweep meshing

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Not valid for sweep meshing

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...Sweep Meshing

Define and activate a 3-D hexahedral solid element


type, such as structural SOLID45 or SOLID95.

Bring up MeshTool and choose Hex/Wedge and


Sweep.

Choose how the source and target surfaces are


identified:
Auto Source/Target means that ANSYS will
automatically choose them based on the volumes
topology.
Pick Source/Target means that you will be
choosing them.

Press the SWEEP button and follow prompt


instructions from the picker. (Or use VSWEEP
command.)

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Procedure

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Meshing

...Sweep Meshing

A useful sweep option is to generate a


tet-mesh in non-sweepable volumes.

To use this option:


Make sure that the element type supports
degenerate pyramid and tetrahedron
shapes. Examples:
Structural SOLID95, 186, VISCO89
Thermal SOLID90
Multiphysics SOLID62, 117, 122
Choose Preprocessor > -Meshing- Mesh >
-Volume Sweep- Sweep Opts and activate
the tet-mesh option. (Or use the
EXTOPT,VSWE command.)

INTRODUCTION TO ANSYS 5.7 - Part


1

Tet-Mesh Option

Training Manual

Janua

Meshing

...Sweep Meshing

Training Manual

To map-mesh a complex volume, you may need to slice it


several times and also do some area and line concatenations.
For sweep meshing, you typically need only a few slicing
operations, and no concatenations are needed!

You can control the source area mesh using standard mesh
controls. SmartSizing is generally not recommended since it
is meant for free meshing.

INTRODUCTION TO ANSYS 5.7 - Part


1

Notes

Janua

Meshing

...Sweep Meshing
Demo:
Resume ribvol.db
Clear all volumes and all areas, then plot volumes
Bring up MeshTool and activate sweep meshing
Sweep mesh the volume

INTRODUCTION TO ANSYS 5.7 - Part


1

Training Manual

Janua

Meshing

H. Workshop
This workshop consists of four exercises:
W8A. Pillow Block
W8B. Connecting Rod
W8C. Cotter Pin
W8D. Wheel

INTRODUCTION TO ANSYS 5.7 - Part


1

Training Manual

Janua