SolidWorks Simulation 2013, like in previous releases, has been loaded with enhancements. Two things I particularly like in this release include Sub-Modeling, a huge time savings in solving large scale problems, and Parametric Optimization inside Flow, a DOE scheme for fluid flow optimization. Let’s talk about them one at a time.
Most users of Simulation are concerned about one or two components in an assembly. However, the load transfer occurs through a bunch of other nearby components. Thus, the user is left with no choice but to run simulations on the entire assembly – until 2013. In Simulation 2013, the user can now start off with a simple coarse analysis on the entire assembly. This sets up a baseline estimate of the deflections that happen on each component. Deflections converge fast, and so a coarse mesh should generally be sufficient. The user can then launch a sub-model study where they are prompted to select only the components they care about. All the deflections up to the component of interest are then transferred as boundary conditions onto the new study, thus mapping the behavior at the assembly level down to the component level analysis. Once that is done, the user can easily perform many iterations – design changes, material changes etc. on the component in a fraction of the time that it would have taken if the work were to be done at the assembly level. It is a great tool, and one that will come in handy to the majority of Simulation users. This functionality is available in Simulation Professional and Simulation Premium.
Parametric Optimization in Flow
For those who have used Flow, you might be familiar with a hidden gem called Parametric Study. This tool allows for a single dimension/parameter optimization based on specifying a certain goal. For instance, the user can ask Flow to determine the optimal bore diameter to achieve a certain pressure drop. Because it is integrated within SolidWorks, Flow Simulation can vary the dimension until goal convergence is reached. However, it was limited in that it could only vary one dimension or parameter at a time. In 2013, the user can now start a parametric study mode to run multiple variables, which could be a combination of flow parameters and dimensions. This, in effect, is Design Study for Flow. With this power, Flow reaches new heights in terms of optimization. The user can start with a baseline run (I would recommend a coarse mesh, just enough to satisfy global flow convergence) and then set up multiple variables to determine the best configuration. It appears from my initial testing that it is going to run each and every combination of parameters and dimensions, rather than cherry picking the critical ones using intelligent DOE (like Design Study in FEA does). It remains to be seen if that will be an enhancement downstream or a "hidden" option that I haven't found yet. However, there are many positives, such as easy workflow, great post-processing when coupled with Compare Configuration Mode (another nice enhancement in 2013) and so forth. All in all, another good release of SolidWorks Simulation. There are other tools that have received an upgrade. Be sure to check out What's New from the help file.
Vikram Vedantham is the Simulation Product Manager at 3DVision Technologies, a SolidWorks Value Added Reseller with locations across Ohio, Indiana, and Kentucky. He is a regular contributor to 3DVision Technologies' Blog where you will find new ideas to improve your productivity with SolidWorks Simulation.
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