Written by SolidXperts Senior Technical Representative – Chung Ping Lu
Three very simple steps will allow you to create a simulation on SOLIDWORKS. Thus, the results obtained will lead you to the validation of your design to ensure that your criteria are met.
This stage consists of a short thinking process on what must be studied in order to prepare the 3D model for an analysis thereafter. One way to do this is to ask yourself a series of questions:
What is the need? What should we evaluate? Is there a standard to follow? What parts are critical? Etc…
The answers to the questions will possibly lead you to a simplification of the 3D model in order to facilitate the analysis as well as to the type of study to choose in order to obtain what you are looking for to validate your design. If necessary, an advisor is available to help you identify what type of study should be used, based on what you are concerned about on your design. Everything is done in SOLIDWORKS, since it allows you to integrate the add-in of the simulation in order to make it easier to make modifications if necessary. The following image shows an example of the advisor questioning the user to identify the study to be created.
The advisor will have led us towards the creation of a static study, which is a finite element analysis to study the stresses on the critical parts of the tube and the lifting cranks in order to know if a plastic deformation will occur, which would cause a significant weakness in the material.
This is mainly the core of the simulation, which is the phase that will allow you to get all the answers based on the objectives of the analysis. Still with our example above, we want to apply boundary conditions on certain parts entities in order to fix them at the ends to prevent movements and apply a force on the holes of the lifting cranks to represent the load produced by the actuator connected on the rod attached to the cranks. The following image shows an example of the application of a fixture to an end of the tube which consists of an essential step of the creation of the analysis.
Other steps are necessary in order to complete the creation of the analysis, in particular the application of the material to the parts, the connections between the parts, the creation of the mesh as well as the execution of the analysis in order to obtain the results. Several of these steps can be done automatically or even by importing features to facilitate the user and save time. If necessary, the advisor will be able to support you in order to facilitate the analysis creation and help you familiarize yourself with the various essential steps.
Once the calculations are complete, it suffices to obtain the desired results, either by manually displaying the information on the screen, or by using the advisor again which will be able to question the user so as to make a list of results to look according to what we should be concerned about. In the image which follows, we look at some stress results in order to know how the critical points of the 3D model will behave, when subjected to the boundary conditions and to the loadings applied in the analysis.
A simple visualization of the results in the image allows us to know that the part with the red zone has a maximum stress value of approximately 90 MPa which is lower than the limit value of approximately 351 MPa (i.e. the elastic limit of the material in question which represents the maximum allowable stress value). This allows us to confirm that the part only deforms elastically and will return to its original shape when the force is released. Several other results are available in order to know the displacement or deformation of a part, the reaction forces, the safety factor, etc. It is also possible to obtain results for other types of analyses, always depending on the needs, such as fatigue, buckling, movement, vibration, and many others.