SolidWorks Simulation Tech Tip: Initial Temperatures

A friend recently emailed me an article that CERN researchers had ‘discovered’ that materials could be brought down to temperatures BELOW zero Kelvin. And I thought, “That’s gotta be against the law”. But it also reminds me of a common pitfall one encounters when doing thermal simulations. So here’s a SolidWorks Simulation tech tip to help prevent your Thermal studies from running really, really cold.

When you are applying a temperature condition, there is a crucial difference in where you select on the screen. This is true when you are setting a temperature as a Load condition in a static stress/strain study, and it is also true when you are setting initial conditions in a time-dependent Thermal study. The difference is this: If you click in the graphics area on any face(es) of the model to apply a temperature, you are only enforcing that temp on the nodes that lie one the selected faces – you are NOT specifying the temperature on any of the nodes interior to the part. And if you don’t specify interior node temps, they default to zero, Kelvin.

The first image below is a laminated strip of nickel and aluminum, assembled at 22C reference temperature. A boundary condition of 50C is then applied, but to the FACES of the parts, (in fact, I used the handy menu option, “Select All Exposed Faces”, because I’m lazy). Since the Aluminum has a higher CTE than the Nickel, it should grow more, and the strip should bend down. But it actually bends UP.., because the cold, cold interior nodes are overpowering the temperature condition on the outer faces. (and, the stresses on the surface will be weird).

initial temperatures

The second image below is a copy of the problem, but this time, in the dialog where you apply the temperature, I selected the ICON for the part files from within the Feature Manager. This works whether you select Parts in an assembly, or Bodies within a part – either way, picking the volume from the Feature Manager is the key to initializing all nodes of the mesh, inside and out, and so you see the strip bends downward, as we should expect.

initial temperatures

initial temperatures



Keith Pedersen is Principal Engineer at CAPINC, a SolidWorks Value Added Reseller with locations across New England. He is a regular contributor to their CAPINC University blog.

Want to try out SolidWorks? You can request a free SolidWorks trial on our website.

Want to see how SolidWorks can help you win new business and get to market faster? Request a  SolidWorks demo today.

CAPINC was founded on one core principle: Provide the best solutions and services to assist our customers in designing and developing better products. CAPINC provides premier solutions and services in New England to assist our customers in accelerating their design and development process for better mechanical products. Our award winning technical support team is comprised of industry experts with hundreds of years of combined practical experience in mechanical design, design validation and analysis, product data management, and technical communication. We are the award winning 3D solutions partner offering SolidWorks software and training, and the entire Stratasys line of 3D printers and production systems. For more tech tips and blog tutorials check out CAPINC's blog and videos.
  • I need to figure out the change in temperature for a neutralization reaction and Facebook page development will help this by informing the fans of itbut have two different initial temperatures (for two different solutions).

  • Pingback: SolidWorks Simulation Time Saver: Sub Modeling()

  • Sam

    Did you ever solve this problem? I’m having the same issue.

  • Syed Maaz

    I dont know why but the option of selecting features or parts is only available when in an assembly, if you try to select the part form the feature manager it just doesnt all you can select is the faces which doesnt do any good since the interior is at 0K, everywhere I see its like solidworks denies the problem exists