FEA Tutorial: NAFEMS Steady State Temperature Distribution of a Plate in SolidWorks

SolidWorks contains tutorials based on the NAFEMS benchmarks.  These benchmarks demonstrate the accuracy of SolidWorks Simulation software for the analysis modules of linear statics, thermal, geometric and material, non linearity and linear dynamics.  NAFEMS benchmarks are used throughout many FEA examples and compared with analytical solutions, one of the most popular examples is steady state temperature distribution on a plate.  In the classroom, you look at bars, beams and plates.  You might also look at plates with holes.  Why? Because you always want to prove a theoretical situation and compare to computer generated results. 

I never got paid to perform analysis on a plate, beam or bar, but I used them all the time to prove my concept and that my analysis was going in the right direction and made sense.  In other words, you just can’t take the computer result and run.  Most of the time, the simple plate found issues with units, boundary conditions, and significant digits.  Of course, this was in the stone age when engineers wrote their own finite element programs in Fortran (ancient language) 

But now SolidWorks makes it easy to look at the NAFEMS examples and create the simple 3D CAD models used in the process.  In this example, located in Help>Simulation Tutorials.NAFEMS>Themal>Steady State Temperature Distribution in a Plate you will see two examples.  The first boundary condition is set on the left edge with Temperature =1000C.  The other three edges are set to 0C. 

NAFEMS Steady State Temperature Boundary Conditions 
In SolidWorks, select  Insert, Surface, Planar, and create a 400mm x 600mm rectangle.  Then add construction lines with horizontal and vertical construction lines at (0,200)and (200, 0), (300, 0).  It is important here to watch units.  If your default template is not millimeter, then Select Options>Document properties to change units ot mm.   NAFEMS Steady State Temperature Distribution of a Plate Model in SolidWorks 
Points are inserted a the intersection of these construction lines but you can also use the Probe Tool anywhere on your plate after the results have been calculated.

NAFEMS Steady State Temperature Distribution of a Plate Results 

In part 2, a heat source is located at the center of the plate at 10e6 W/m^3.  Using a Shell element FEA simulation of thickness, .1, The volume of the plate is .4x.6x.1=.024m^3.  In SolidWorks, enter a Heat Power Thermal Load of 24000 W at the center of the plate.  Again, watch units.

Right-click on Mesh and select Mesh and Run.  View your results.

Depending on your initial setup parameters, your temperature results may be displayed in Fahrenheit.  You need Celsius for the NAFEMS comparison.    Right-click Edit Definition and modify the temperature units if required.

NAFEMS Temperature: 310.1C

SolidWorks Temperature:310.1C

Shell elements are fast and accurate for thin flat geometry.

 NAFEMS Heat Generation on Plate Results 2.

Model File:  Download Nafems_thermal_test9 (The units have been changed from the original to SI)

If you have SolidWorks 2010 you can open the file directly from the NAFEMS tutorials.

Video:Download NAFEMS Temperature Distribution on a Plate with SolidWorks 2




Marie Planchard

Marie Planchard

Senior Director, Early Engagement, 3DEXPERIENCE Works at Dassault Systemes
Marie Planchard is an education and engineering advocate. As Senior Director of Education & Early Engagement, SOLIDWORKS, she is responsible for global development of content and social outreach for the 3DEXPERIENCE Works products across all levels of learning including educational institutions, Fab Labs, and entrepreneurship.