How often do you take advantage of the Xpress tools in SOLIDWORKS? Maybe the better question is do you know about the Xpress tools in SOLIDWORKS? If you’re not familiar with them, they are SimulationXpress, FloXpress and DriveWorksXpress.
Each of these tools can have a place in your product development processes, if you take advantage of them. Briefly, their capabilities are as follows: SimulationXpress provides part-only Finite Element Analysis, FloXpress provides internal flow Computational Fluid Dynamics and DriveWorksXpress is a powerful design automation tool. I recommend you take a look at each to see how you can begin to leverage their capabilities. One quick side note… you can learn more about the DriveWorks products or read about Gemma’s whirlwind trip to the USA to demonstrate DriveWorksXpress at four SOLIDWORKS User Group meetings in four nights! I’m going to focus on FloXpress for the rest of this article.
As I originally indicated, FloXpress is a CFD tool for simple, internal fluid flow analysis. It calculates how a fluid flows through your design to help you identify possible design issues early on in your development. There are a few limitations with the FloXpress. The first is that your design can only have a single inlet and single outlet. The second is your fluid choices are limited to air and water. For more complex fluid flow problems, you need to use SOLIDWORKS Flow Simulation.
Use of the FloXpress tool is made simple by a Wizard to help step you through the analysis setup. As long as the design is a completely enclosed volume, you can begin with FloXpress. The first step is to choose the fluid – either air or water – for your design. Then select one face in the CAD model to represent the fluid inlet, and specify the inlet boundary condition parameters.
Next you choose one face of the model to represent the fluid outlet and specify the outlet boundary condition.
After the solution to the problem has been calculated, you can visualize the fluid velocity through the design as well as see the fluid trajectories from either the inlet or the outlet.
But what can you do if your product is not suited for internal fluid flow? Let’s say your product involves a fluid that flows around the product and not through it, like a billboard sign. Does that mean you cannot use FloXpress? If you follow the strict guidelines of the Xpress tool, then yes.
If you’re like me, you don’t like someone telling you that you cannot do what you want! In a case such as this with FloXpress, just make your product ‘internal analysis friendly’! By that, I mean create a virtual wind tunnel for your product.
When FloXpress recognizes the fluid volume of the wind tunnel, you can proceed with the analysis of your design and utilize the post-processing capability of FloXpress. Don’t let a little thing like a warning message deter you from using this simple analysis tool!
Bill Reuss is a SolidWorks Elite Application Engineer, Certified SolidWorks Expert, and CAE Specialist at 3DVision Technologies, a SolidWorks Value Added Reseller with locations throughout Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana. He is a regular contributor to the 3DVision Blog.