3DEXPERIENCE Works Simulation for FEA and CFD in the Automotive Industry

Transportation and Mobility or the Automotive Industry affect our everyday life in many different ways. From directly impacting us with the safety and comfort of our everyday commute to the long-term effect on the sustainability and the future of our planet, the effort to develop better products is a never-ending goal. In this context, simulation and virtual prototyping are extremely beneficial, from ideation to design, engineering and beyond.

In this blog and the presentation, I focus on a subset of the Simulation solutions that we at SOLIDWORKS offer to our customers in the Automotive Industry, focusing on Finite Element Analysis (FEA) and Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD).



In structural stress simulation using FEA and the early stage part design and engineering, a car wheel rim, for example, where a linear static analysis together with capabilities for Design of Experiments (DoE) and possibility topology optimization can come very handy. For the analyst, think of a car crash test simulation, an example of a nonlinear dynamic analysis suitable for an explicit solver. Between these extreme cases, countless FEA studies can be imagined like fatigue and durability of the individual components and vibration and linear dynamic applications, such as the harmonic response of the engine in a frequency range to the random vibration of the suspension system under the non-deterministic road conditions.

Using CFD, you can simulate the aerodynamics of the body, to the comfort level of passengers sitting inside, to the fluid flow and thermal management of the engine, and the battery packs in the EVs. Plastic Injection Molding Simulation can help the designer and mold-maker avoid possible defects such as short shots, sink marks and excessive warpage and improve product designs for manufacturability. Other areas can be simulated, including electromagnetics, multi-body system simulation and the combination of different analysis types into multi-physics.


SOLIDWORKS Simulation desktop solutions for FEA, CFD and Plastics are fully embedded within the CAD environment and provide designers and engineers easy-to-use tools that can handle mainstream applications extremely well. Broad sets of solutions are available, and the first focus is ease of use, opening Simulation to many who may not have used simulation before or done so only at a very basic level. Our 3DEXPERIENCE platform product portfolio is distinguished by its scalability, cloud and power. Structured under different roles, they provide scalable simulation tools that work in a single cloud environment.

Comparing our SOLIDWORKS Simulation desktop and 3DEXPERIENCE Works cloud solutions, there are big differences, small differences and similarities. The big difference is, of course, desktop versus platform and all that the platform brings in terms of collaboration and cloud.

In terms of technology and behind the scene numerics, SOLIDWORKS Plastics Simulation and Plastic Injection Engineer both use the same underlying technology. In CFD, Flow Simulation and Fluid Dynamics Engineer both solve the Navier-Stokes PDEs and governing equations and cover many similar applications, but have differences in areas such as meshing methodology and element types, capturing the boundary layer and some turbulence models.

Staying with the topic of CFD, the other solution offered by our SIMULIA brand uses the so-called Lattice Boltzmann Method (LBM). This is more suitable for highly transient problems, also for moving parts.

In the video below, you see water sloshing in the tank of a moving truck. While this video shows the solution using XFlow and the LBM approach, you can also run this problem with both Navier-Stokes-based Flow Simulation and Fluid Dynamics Engineer using the Volume of Fluid VOF approach, albeit with a different mesh.



Doing FEA and stress analysis, Structural Performance Engineer is especially suitable for highly nonlinear problems, be it material, geometric or contact nonlinearities. This is because it uses the underlying ABAQUS technology, with its highly efficient solver, diverse material models and range of element types with different formulations. For short duration applications such as impact, collision, drop test and crash test, the ABAQUS explicit solver is used in the Structural Mechanics Engineer role.


From a design engineering perspective, and for all our Simulation roles, a typical workflow is shown above, in this case for an exhaust design. Reading in the CAD geometry and doing some model preparation for Simulation, if necessary, you specify the operating scenario by imposing appropriate boundary conditions; have the program generate the mesh; execute the job either locally on desktop or remotely in cloud; and post-process the results. To improve your design and study alternatives, you make changes, with the program automatically updating the simulation setup and re-meshing, solving and post-processing. You iterate through this process until you are satisfied with your design.

The automotive industry has many applications that are suitable for Simulation, especially FEA and CFD. Designers, engineers and analysts can use our diverse solutions for this purpose, both on desktop or in cloud. The 3DEXPERIENCE platform, with its many roles under one unified environment, can help you achieve your goals in doing more realistic simulations easily, accurately and efficiently.

Click here to watch the recording of this webinar for more details.

Dr. Reza Tabatabai
Reza Tabatabai is a Sr. Technical Manager for Simulation products, focusing on SOLIDWORKS Simulation and SIMULIA works product portfolios at Dassault Systèmes. He has 20 years of industry experience. Reza received his PhD from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH Zurich) and was a Lecturer & Research Associate at the University of California at Berkeley.