Simulating The Repair Of Sports Injuries with SolidWorks Simulation

We're all used to hearing about footballers and other professional athletes damaging their cruciate ligament or suffering some other tendon injury.  I remember being told once that they can repair this by cutting away more of the damaged tendon, and it seemed like a crazy statement.  How can removing material make something stronger?

Time to do a little bit of medical simulation!

I fired up SolidWorks and modelled a simple strip with two small tears on each side.  Keeping things symmetrical helped with the setup.


Close up of the tear


A quick simulation was set up using SolidWorks Simulation.


And here are the results


Maximum stress here was just over 1GPa, almost double the yield limit of the material. Clearly we are failing here, so now for the repair!


All I did here was increase the angle of the cut from 10 to 170 degrees.  This removes 13% of the original bar. So what did this do to the stress?  Let's take a look:


Wow!  The maximum stress has fallen by 800MPa–a 79% drop in peak stresses.  We can live to run another day! But why does this happen?  How can removing material increase the strength of the part?

It's all to do with how the stress can spread through the part.  With the narrow/sharp tear the stresses can only act at the root because there are no stresses at the top of the tear openings, but by smoothing out the damage, stress can spread across the entire width of the part allowing more material to take up the strain.

Once again I was able to use SolidWorks Simulation to illustrate what seems to be a paradox, and get the truth.


Gordon Stewart, Elite Applications Engineer & CSWE


Gordon Stewart is an Elite Applications Engineer & CSWE at TMS CAD Centre, a SolidWorks Value Added Reseller in Scotland. He is a regular contributor to the TMS CAD Centre blog.

TMS CADCentre is a SOLIDWORKS Reseller based in Scotland providing CAD Design Software, analysis software & product data management software. Founded in 1981, TMS CADCentre is the only UK SOLIDWORKS Reseller based and funded within Scotland and have been providing SOLIDWORKS software, training and support since 1996 when the product was first launched in the UK.