SolidWorks Simulation Time Saver: Sub Modeling

Submodeling transfers the displacements from a global model to the border of selected submodel bodies. This is available for linear or nonlinear static studies.

The faster we can simulate, the more options we can validate. With the 2013 SolidWorks release, submodeling was introduced for the Simulation Professional and Simulation Premium packages. Submodeling transfers the displacements from a global model to the border of selected submodel bodies. This is available for linear or nonlinear static studies.

The value of submodeling is that if we are very interested in a specific portion of a larger assembly, we only need to re-run a portion of our simulation model.

As you might have learned in our Intro to Simulation course (CAE 205), displacement is not nearly as sensitive to stress with respect to mesh size. The benefit is that we can run our global model very coarse and then we can re-run our submodel on its own with a very fine mesh to capture fine details in our model.

In addition to mesh changes, we can make modifications to the sub model geometry. However, we should be aware that if our local changes will substantially affect the global stiffness of the whole model, we should go back and validate on the full model after iterating. I will show you how to check this in the video below.

Continue on to the video and the rest of this tutorial: 


In the video example, we have a frame subjected to a twist test. The center cross member is designed in two pieces and bolted or riveted together for access purposes. We have modeled this interface using solid bodies and no penetration contacts which can be computationally intensive and require a fine mesh for accuracy. This is where the submodel is very handy.

Sub Modeling Process Example:

  1. Build the global static study and run.
  2. Now create a new study and select “Submodeling”.
  3. Pick the bodies that you want to analyze in the submodel.
      Note: the submodel bodies cannot share connectors (pins, bolts, etc.) or penetration contacts with the main model.

  4. The sub model will automatically be created and you can see a fixture that indicates the transferred displacements from the main model.
  5. Now we can add local mesh refinement to the submodel in the areas of interest.
  6. Duplicate the submodel to a different configuration for geometry changes.

Give submodels a try and let me know how it works for you. In my next post, I will be discussing how to add bolt pre-load to our bolts modeled in 3D and how this compares to using the bolt connector.

David Roccaforte is a SolidWorks Simulation Specialist at Fisher/Unitech,
a SolidWorks Value Added Reseller with locations across the Midwestern and Northeastern United States. He is a regular contributor to the Fisher/Unitech blog.


Want to learn more about SolidWorks Simulation? Check out our First Look at Simulation video to see how simulation could improve your own designs and reduce prototypes.

First Look SolidWorks Simulation


Fisher Unitech is improving manufacturing in America by delivering, supporting and training customers on the best product development software and additive and subtractive manufacturing solutions available. The company delivers 3D software and hardware, which enable customers to design, validate and manage innovative products from prototyping to manufacturing. With more than 17 office locations throughout the Midwest, Mid-Atlantic, and New England. For more information, visit www.