Breaking a World Record with SolidWorks!

There seems to be a few sporting events going on this summer; one in London seems to be a bit of a big deal and it got me thinking.  Could I use SolidWorks to discover something about the track and field events?

Modelling a running person was discounted, so I thought I'd examine one of the Field events, and decided that the shot put would be a good choice.  So what was the question?  I wanted to know what force was required to match the current world record.  After modelling up the 'Field' and the Shot, I then had to come up with a way of modelling the athlete. 

After a couple of minutes/hours thought I decided on a simple cannon.  I would push the shot along the cannon at a fixed force.  The launch track would be 2m.  I felt that this would give a reasonable distance to accelerate and also that it would tie in with the actual distance the athlete moves the shot from start to finish.  I only tested for a linear launch and that was what I had used in my school days.  The rotation seemed a bit tricky.

So here was my setup:




Using SolidWorks Event Based Motion I created a simple study that would apply a force to the launcher to push the shot into the air.  The simulation would then stop as soon as it hit the ground and triggered a proximity sensor.


I did not want to just use a random angle or force; I wanted to find out what the most efficient angle and force was to reach the World Record Distance.  I decided to test these individually.  So first, to test the angle of launch, I created a Design Study.  Design studies have been in SolidWorks for some time allowing the engineer to test a number of parameters against a system, but this was not something that could previously be carried out for Motion Simulation.  This was something new for SolidWorks 2012 and I was keen to see what it would give me.  I ran the test looking at angles from 30° to 45°.  The optimal angle from this was 35.76°



So now I wanted to know the minimum force required to reach 21.97m–the World Record.  This time I set up another study just looking at the launch force.  So what was the force required to launch a shot weighing 7.26kg (16lb) a distance of 21.97m (72 ft)?


413N (93 lbf).  These guys are effectively lifting 42 kg with one hand!  No wonder these guys are all built like a brick outhouse.  That amount of power is incredible.

Once again I was able to use SolidWorks Motion Simulation and Simulation Professional to answer an Olympian question.  What next?


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.