Structural Analysis Engineer: The New Summer Lifeguard

We are in the dog days of summer here in New England and when the heat gets oppressive there is only one place to be: out on the water.  I grew up near the French Mediterranean coast, so sun and water are like a home to me and now that I live in Rhode Island, water is everywhere. This year, my wife got me a large canoe for my birthday, so the entire family, including our two daughters, ages 6 and 9, can go on water adventures.

Being a responsible (and fun…) parent, I make my daughters wear life jackets when canoeing, and one day while paddling I was thinking about how much trust we put in everyday products.  I trust those life jackets to protect my girls.  You might think, how is this related to SOLIDWORKS and design? Good question… Well, I realized that what helps to keep my daughters safe and, the key component of life jackets are the buckle clips that keep the jacket securely fitted. Life jacket buckle clips are made of plastic, and they need to be easily inserted but also secure enough to not come undone when pulled on.

It so happens that Nick, one of my English coworkers (yes the French and English can get along!), was working on a clip buckle design and I suggested that we use simulation to help guide the design process.  If you are a simulation guy you might know that the analysis of a clip buckle design involves the simulation of a snap through behavior which is not simple to simulate as it involves contact with large deformation and spring back which is a combination of highly non-linear effects.  In addition, the plastic material of the clip buckle has a nonlinear load deflection response.

Buckle clip model in SOLIDWORKS

Nick was using his favorite CAD tool, SOLIDWORKS, to design the clip buckle.  We could have used SOLIDWORKS Simulation to solve this problem but I was keen to see how the new SIMULIA apps on the 3DEXPERIENCE platform would manage this challenging problem.

The 3DEXPERIENCE apps use a cloud based data storage infrastructure, so Nick’s first step was to save his SOLIDWORKS models where I could get to them.  This was done from within SOLIDWORKS, no need for any file transfer tools.  Security is an important part of the 3DEXPERIENCE platform, not just any one can access your designs; you have to be invited to the shared location first.  So I fired up my new SIMULIA app (Structural Analysis Engineer) and opened Nick’s SOLIDWORKS designs.

The new SIMULIA apps deliver the power of Abaqus, the best non-linear FEA solver on the market, with a refined user interface that allows designers to tackle challenging problems with ease.  With Structural Analysis Engineer it was very easy to hold the buckle and push the clip in after setting up the plastic material and component contact conditions.  After a few minutes to model the problem and a few minutes to solve it… voila!

3D results visualization of the buckle clip insertion simulation in SIMULIA Structural Analysis Engineer

With these results Nick was able to make the necessary changes and any changes are easily updated with the click of a button.  Watch this short video to see the analysis:


Click here to learn more about capabilities found in SOLIDWORKS and the 3DEXPERIENCE Platform.


Nicolas Tillet

Nicolas Tillet

Product Portfolio Manager at DS SOLIDWORKS Corp.
Product Portfolio Manager for SOLIDWORKS Simulation
Nicolas Tillet
Nicolas Tillet