I have been a SOLIDWORKS user for about six years, using it mostly for CAD, but sometimes for running my designs through structural simulation analysis. The CAD software I used prior to SOLIDWORKS was slower and this process took extra time to set up. I had to export and import .STEP files between different software, and even though it worked in the end, it seemed like running simulations took forever. My experience since changing to SOLIDWORKS Simulation has been very different. In this blog article, I show you how I used SOLIDWORKS Simulation to run a simple static study.
Setting Up the Static Analysis
To start, I have a steering bracket that is a native SOLIDWORKS file. Right inside the CAD model, I can click one of the ribbon commands to get into SOLIDWORKS Simulation. Depending on your design needs, you can choose from multiple types of simulation in SOLIDWORKS, such as static, frequency or thermal. In this case, I am going to run a static study.
After making my selection, I had a new simulation tree added below my CAD feature tree. This new tree includes all the features needed to start the simulation quickly and effectively. Just by right-clicking on fixtures I could add my fixed geometry, which was at the inside faces of my holes and a reasonable force across the back of the base. It took me seconds to add my constraints (my fixed geometry and external loads) just because I am already familiar with the SOLIDWORKS interface, making the transition seemed almost effortless.
Browsing the Material Library
Another win for SOLIDWORKS Simulation is the massive material library I can choose from or easily customize. In other software, I had to do research on different material properties and input them myself. Also, I had to dig around to find the materials library and customizing them took longer. Once you get used to a software, you will develop your own 1-2-3 process that will make your workflow quicker. From designing my part to inputting it into SOLIDWORKS Simulation, it feels like I have saved a lot of frustration and time simply because it is an interconnected and user-friendly platform. I can design my part and efficiently run simulation tests in the software in probably less than five minutes, compared to fifteen to twenty minutes on other software.
After running the simulation, I have my three default results: displacement, stress concentrations and strain. There are also other ways to further collect more information, like Factor of Safety, available at the right-click of the mouse.
What about part changes? How much time would I lose if I had a minor change? Well, not to worry, with SOLIDWORKS, any edits I make to the parts will automatically integrate into Simulation. Because part changes happen automatically, the setup of a new simulation would be just as quick as the first. Those fixtures and loads will carry over unless that feature was a specific constraint that suddenly disappeared.
I am still learning about how to account for singularity, over meshing and meshing constraints properly in SOLIDWORKS Simulation. There are a variety of tools embedded in the software that I have yet to use. The familiarity I have with the SOLIDWORKS interface and using a single platform for my simulation tests make me excited to continue learning how to use this tool and test out other applications that integrate with SOLIDWORKS Simulation.