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How to Perform Finite Element Analysis with SolidWorks Simulation 2012 Software


Engineering Analysis with SolidWorks Simulation 2012: A Comprehensive Guide for Beginners and Intermediate Users




If you are interested in learning how to perform engineering analysis using SolidWorks Simulation 2012 software, then this article is for you. In this article, you will learn what SolidWorks Simulation 2012 is, what finite element analysis (FEA) is, how to use SolidWorks Simulation 2012 for FEA, and what are some examples of FEA problems solved with SolidWorks Simulation 2012. By the end of this article, you will have a better understanding of the basics and applications of FEA using SolidWorks Simulation 2012.




Engineering Analysis with SolidWorks Simulation 2012.pdf



What is SolidWorks Simulation 2012?




A brief introduction to SolidWorks Simulation 2012




SolidWorks Simulation 2012 is a software package that allows you to perform engineering analysis on your SolidWorks models. It is integrated with the SolidWorks interface, so you can access it from within your SolidWorks environment. It is also compatible with other SolidWorks products, such as SolidWorks Motion, SolidWorks Flow Simulation, and SolidWorks Sustainability.


The main features and benefits of SolidWorks Simulation 2012




Some of the main features and benefits of SolidWorks Simulation 2012 are:



  • It supports a wide range of FEA problems, such as linear static, contact stress, frequency, buckling, thermal, drop test, nonlinear, dynamic, and random vibration analysis.



  • It allows you to perform concurrent engineering, which means you can design and analyze your model simultaneously.



  • It provides you with various tools and options to set up your model for FEA, such as loads, restraints, contacts, mesh controls, sensors, result options, etc.



  • It uses advanced solvers and algorithms to run your analysis efficiently and accurately.



  • It gives you comprehensive and interactive results that you can visualize, measure, compare, plot, animate, etc.



  • It helps you validate your design and optimize your performance by providing you with feedback and suggestions.



What is Finite Element Analysis (FEA)?




A brief introduction to FEA




Finite element analysis (FEA) is a numerical method that allows you to analyze the behavior of a physical system under various conditions. It is based on the idea of dividing the system into smaller and simpler elements, and then solving the equations that govern the behavior of each element. By combining the solutions of all the elements, you can obtain the solution of the whole system.


The main steps and principles of FEA




The main steps and principles of FEA are:



  • Define the problem: You need to identify the system you want to analyze, the conditions you want to apply, and the results you want to obtain.



  • Discretize the system: You need to divide the system into finite elements, which are usually geometric shapes such as triangles, quadrilaterals, tetrahedra, etc. Each element has a number of nodes, which are the points where the elements are connected.



  • Select the element type: You need to choose the type of element that best represents the behavior of your system. For example, beam elements for slender structures, shell elements for thin-walled structures, solid elements for thick-walled structures, etc.



  • Formulate the element equations: You need to derive the equations that describe the relationship between the displacements, strains, stresses, forces, etc. of each element. These equations are usually based on physical laws, such as equilibrium, compatibility, constitutive, etc.



  • Assemble the global equations: You need to combine the element equations into a global equation that represents the whole system. This equation is usually a large and sparse matrix equation that relates the nodal displacements to the nodal forces.



  • Apply the boundary conditions: You need to specify the values or constraints of the nodal displacements or forces at certain locations of your system. These are called boundary conditions, and they can be fixed, prescribed, or free.



  • Solve the global equations: You need to use a numerical method, such as direct or iterative solvers, to find the unknown nodal displacements or forces that satisfy the global equation.



  • Post-process the results: You need to use the nodal displacements or forces to calculate other quantities of interest, such as strains, stresses, reactions, etc. You also need to visualize and interpret your results using graphs, tables, charts, animations, etc.



The types and applications of FEA




There are different types and applications of FEA depending on the nature and complexity of your problem. Some of the common types and applications of FEA are:



  • Linear static analysis: This type of analysis assumes that your system behaves linearly and does not change with time. It is used to calculate the displacements, strains, stresses, reactions, etc. of your system under static loads.



  • Contact stress analysis: This type of analysis considers the interaction between two or more bodies that are in contact with each other. It is used to calculate the contact pressure, friction force, penetration depth, etc. of your system under contact loads.



  • Frequency (modal) analysis: This type of analysis determines the natural frequencies and mode shapes of your system when it vibrates freely. It is used to evaluate the dynamic behavior and stability of your system under harmonic or transient loads.



  • Buckling analysis: This type of analysis predicts the critical load at which your system loses its stability and collapses. It is used to assess the strength and safety of your system under compressive loads.



  • Thermal analysis: This type of analysis calculates the temperature distribution and heat transfer in your system. It is used to study the thermal effects and performance of your system under thermal loads.



  • Drop test analysis: This type of analysis simulates the impact and deformation of your system when it is dropped from a certain height. It is used to evaluate the durability and damage tolerance of your system under impact loads.



  • Nonlinear analysis: This type of analysis accounts for the nonlinear behavior of your system due to large deformations, material nonlinearity, contact nonlinearity, etc. It is used to calculate more accurate and realistic results for complex problems.



  • Dynamic analysis: This type of analysis considers the time-dependent response of your system under dynamic loads. It is used to calculate the displacements, velocities, accelerations, forces, etc. of your system over time.



  • Random vibration analysis: This type of analysis simulates the response of your system under random loads that vary in frequency and amplitude. It is used to calculate the statistical measures and fatigue life of your system under random loads.



How to use SolidWorks Simulation 2012 for FEA?




How to set up a SolidWorks model for FEA




To set up a SolidWorks model for FEA, you need to follow these steps:



  • Create or open a SolidWorks part or assembly file.



  • Click the Simulation tab on the CommandManager.



  • Click New Study on the Simulation toolbar.



  • Select the type of study you want to perform, such as Static, Frequency, Thermal, etc.



  • Click OK to create the study.



  • Add the necessary features and components to your model.



  • Define the material properties for each part or component.



  • Apply the appropriate loads, restraints, and contacts to your model.



  • Mesh your model with the desired element type and size.



  • Run the study and view the results.



How to define loads, restraints, and contacts




To define loads, restraints, and contacts for your model, you need to use the Simulation feature tree and the PropertyManager. The Simulation feature tree shows the hierarchy of your study, such as parts, connections, fixtures, loads, mesh, results, etc. The PropertyManager allows you to specify the parameters and options for each feature. To define loads, restraints, and contacts, you need to follow these steps:



  • Select a feature from the Simulation feature tree, such as External Loads or Fixtures.



  • Click the type of load, restraint, or contact you want to apply, such as Force, Pressure, Fixed Geometry, No Penetration Contact, etc.



  • Select the entities (faces, edges, vertices, etc.) where you want to apply the load, restraint, or contact.



  • Enter the values and directions for the load, restraint, or contact in the PropertyManager.



  • Click OK to apply the load, restraint, or contact.



How to choose and refine the element mesh




To choose and refine the element mesh for your model, you need to use the Mesh feature in the Simulation feature tree and the Mesh Control feature in the Simulation toolbar. The Mesh feature allows you to select the type and size of elements for your model. The Mesh Control feature allows you to refine the mesh for specific parts or regions of your model. To choose and refine the element mesh, you need to follow these steps:



  • Right-click on Mesh in the Simulation feature tree and select Create Mesh.



  • Select the type of element you want to use for your model, such as Solid Mesh (tetrahedral), Shell Mesh (triangular or quadrilateral), Beam Mesh (line), etc.



  • Select the mesh size option you want to use for your model, such as Standard Mesh (default), Curvature Based Mesh (based on geometry), Blended Curvature Based Mesh (combination of standard and curvature based), etc.



  • Enter or adjust the mesh parameters in the PropertyManager, such as Element Size (average length of an element edge), Tolerance (maximum gap between geometry and mesh), Quality (aspect ratio of an element), etc.



  • Click OK to create the mesh for your model.



  • If you want to refine the mesh for specific parts or regions of your model, right-click on Mesh in the Simulation feature tree and select Apply Mesh Control.



  • Select the entities (parts, faces, edges) where you want to apply mesh control.



  • Enter or adjust the mesh control parameters in the PropertyManager, such as Mesh Control Size (local element size), Refinement Level (number of subdivisions), etc.



  • Click OK to apply mesh control to your model.



How to run and interpret the analysis results




To run and interpret the analysis results for your model, you need to use the Run button on the Simulation toolbar and the Result Tools on the Simulation feature tree and toolbar. The Run button allows you to start the analysis and view the progress and status of the solver. The Result Tools allow you to view and manipulate the results plots, such as stress, displacement, strain, thermal, etc. To run and interpret the analysis results, you need to follow these steps:



  • Click Run on the Simulation toolbar to start the analysis.



  • View the progress and status of the solver in the Solver dialog box. You can also pause, resume, or stop the solver if needed.



  • When the solver is finished, click Close to exit the Solver dialog box.



  • Expand the Results folder in the Simulation feature tree to see the available results plots for your study type.



  • Double-click on a result plot to display it on the screen.



  • Use the Result Tools on the Simulation feature tree and toolbar to manipulate the result plot, such as changing plot settings, probing values, listing results, animating results, section clipping, iso clipping, etc.



  • Compare and evaluate your results with your design criteria and expectations.



What are some examples of FEA problems solved with SolidWorks Simulation 2012?




Linear static analysis of parts and assemblies




Linear static analysis is one of the most common types of FEA problems solved with SolidWorks Simulation 2012. It allows you to calculate the displacements, strains, stresses, reactions, etc. of your parts and assemblies under static loads. For example, you can use linear static analysis to analyze a bracket that supports a load as shown below:


![Bracket](https://www.sdcpublications.com/images/9781585037100/9781585037100-1.jpg) To perform a linear static analysis of this bracket, you need to follow these steps:



  • Create or open a SolidWorks part file of the bracket.



  • Create a new static study in SolidWorks Simulation 2012.



  • Define the material properties for the bracket (e.g., AISI 1020 Steel).



  • Apply a fixed restraint on the cylindrical face where the bracket is attached to a wall.



  • Apply a force load of 100 N on the cylindrical face where a rod is attached to the bracket.



  • Create a mesh with standard mesh size option and solid elements.



  • Run the study and view the results.



The following images show some of the results plots for this problem:


![Stress](https://www.sdcpublications.com/images/9781585037100/9781585037100-2.jpg) ![Displacement](https://www.sdcpublications.com/images/9781585037100/9781585037100-3.jpg) Contact stress analysis




Contact stress analysis is another type of FEA problem solved with SolidWorks Simulation 2012. It allows you to calculate the contact pressure, friction force, penetration depth, etc. of your system under contact loads. For example, you can use contact stress analysis to analyze a ball bearing that supports a radial load as shown below:


![Ball bearing](https://www.engineeringnotes.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/hertzian-contact-stress-1.png) To perform a contact stress analysis of this ball bearing, you need to follow these steps:



  • Create or open a SolidWorks assembly file of the ball bearing.



  • Create a new static study in SolidWorks Simulation 2012.



  • Define the material properties for the inner ring, outer ring, and balls (e.g., AISI 52100 Steel).



  • Apply a fixed restraint on the inner ring.



  • Apply a radial load on the outer ring.



  • Define no penetration contact sets between the balls and the rings.



  • Create a mesh with curvature based mesh option and solid elements.



  • Run the study and view the results.



The following images show some of the results plots for this problem:


![Contact pressure](https://www.engineeringnotes.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/hertzian-contact-stress-2.png) ![Friction force](https://www.engineeringnotes.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/hertzian-contact-stress-3.png) Frequency (modal) analysis




Frequency (modal) analysis is another type of FEA problem solved with SolidWorks Simulation 2012. It allows you to determine the natural frequencies and mode shapes of your system when it vibrates freely. For example, you can use frequency analysis to analyze a guitar string that vibrates when plucked as shown below:


![Guitar string](https://www.solidworks.com/sw/images/content/Training/SolidWorks_Simulation_Student_Guide-ENG-4.jpg) To perform a frequency analysis of this guitar string, you need to follow these steps:



  • Create or open a SolidWorks part file of the guitar string.



  • Create a new frequency study in SolidWorks Simulation 2012.



  • Define the material properties for the guitar string (e.g., Steel).



  • Apply a fixed restraint on both ends of the guitar string.



  • Create a mesh with standard mesh option and beam elements.



  • Run the study and view the results.



The following images show some of the results plots for this problem:


![First mode shape](https://www.solidworks.com/sw/images/content/Training/SolidWorks_Simulation_Student_Guide-ENG-5.jpg) ![Second mode shape](https://www.solidworks.com/sw/images/content/Training/SolidWorks_Simulation_Student_Guide-ENG-6.jpg) Conclusion




In this article, you have learned what SolidWorks Simulation 2012 is, what finite element analysis (FEA) is, how to use SolidWorks Simulation 2012 for FEA, and what are some examples of FEA problems solved with SolidWorks Simulation 2012. You have also learned how to create tables and use HTML formatting for your article. By using SolidWorks Simulation 2012, you can perform various types of engineering analysis on your SolidWorks models and validate your design and optimize your performance. You can also access more tutorials and resources on the SolidWorks website and learn more about FEA using SolidWorks Simulation 2012.


FAQs




Here are some frequently asked questions about SolidWorks Simulation 2012 and FEA:



  • Q: What are the system requirements for SolidWorks Simulation 2012?



  • A: You need to have SolidWorks 2012 installed on your computer with a valid license. You also need to have Windows XP, Vista, or 7 operating system with at least 1 GB of RAM and 5 GB of free disk space. You can check the full system requirements on the SolidWorks website.



  • Q: How can I access the online tutorials for SolidWorks Simulation 2012?



  • A: You can access the online tutorials by clicking Help, SolidWorks Tutorials, All SolidWorks Tutorials. You can also access them on the SolidWorks website under Resource Center, SolidWorks Tutorials.



  • Q: How can I generate a report for my analysis study?



  • A: You can generate a report for your analysis study by clicking Report on the Simulation toolbar or Simulation, Result Tools, Report. You can customize the report content, format, and layout in the Report PropertyManager. You can also save the report as a Microsoft Word document.



  • Q: How can I compare multiple results side by side?



  • A: You can compare multiple results side by side by clicking Compare Results on the Simulation toolbar or Simulation, Result Tools, Compare Results. You can select up to four results plots to compare and view them in a split screen.



  • Q: How can I perform a design optimization using SolidWorks Simulation 2012?



  • A: You can perform a design optimization using SolidWorks Simulation 2012 by using the Design Study feature. You can define design variables, constraints, and goals for your model and run a design study to find the optimal values for your design variables. You can access the Design Study feature by clicking Design Study on the Simulation toolbar or Simulation, Design Study.



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