With advancements in hardware and software technology, simulation is being used extensively in different fields of science, engineering and beyond. In mechanical engineering and part design, virtual prototyping is no exception. Designers and engineers use computer simulations on their 3D models, drastically reducing the number of actual prototypes which are expensive and time-consuming to make and test. Because virtual prototyping is fast and efficient, engineers can examine more alternative designs, the “what-if” scenarios, leading to better products and improved overall productivity and efficiency.
When deciding on the type of simulation to perform, you have to have an idea of the possible modes of failure or examine all potential modes to see which one the particular design is susceptible to. Design for strength, for life, or addressing thermal issues are examples of such design criteria.
Among the many types of simulation for mechanical Finite Element Analysis (FEA), a linear static analysis is the most commonly used. You basically have a part or assembly that is subjected to some sort of load and the scope is to examine whether your design is strong enough to resist those forces and how it could be improved. By better understanding your design, you can remove material from locations where it is not being utilized, strengthen regions with high stress, and improve overall design functionality.
How to conduct a linear static analysis
The steps to complete a linear static analysis are quite straightforward. Starting with a prepared CAD model for simulation, you assign materials for all the parts with their respective properties available from the material library. Then you define boundary conditions, which include supports, ie, the effect of those parts on the boundary that you are not modeling, as well as the loads applied. At this point, have the software mesh the model, which breaks the system down into smaller pieces. This, technically speaking, is the discretization of a continuum into a set of finite elements. Now you can run the solver and lastly, post-process the results.
A linear static analysis is based on some assumptions which we are not getting into in this short blog post. It is important to understand that although this type of analysis is typically the first you perform, you may need to perform some more advanced analyses later to capture the behavior more accurately.
SOLIDWORKS Simulation has a wide range of different products that capture a variety of simulation capabilities. These analysis modules are bundled into different product groups so that they offer users practical solutions for their simulation needs. SOLIDWORKS Simulation Standard is one such bundle that includes static analysis in addition to some other practical modules that address other issues designers are faced with.
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