The New Blended Curvature-Based Meshing Algorithm

We all know running a successful analysis using SOLIDWORKS Simulation requires a good mesh of our geometry. As far as generating a mesh is concerned, the SOLIDWORKS meshing command has traditionally offered us two options: the Standard mesh and the Curvature-based mesh. Generally speaking, the standard mesh is best used for angled, prismatic geometry and there was a time when it was the only meshing option available. Then in 2008, the curvature-based mesh was introduced. This technique is better suited for geometry containing round features like holes and fillets and usually does a good job transitioning between rounded detail features and larger prismatic features than the original standard mesh.

Standard VS Curvature-Based Mesh

Now in SOLIDWORKS 2016, there is a third radio button below your standard and curvature based meshing options: the Blended-Curvature mesh. Sounds fancy, right? You might be tempted to give this new mesh a test drive, but without really knowing what it’s for and how it differs from our original options, it can be hard to have confidence in your results. You may even let your model try it on for size, to discover that visually in comparison with the curvature mesh, it doesn’t really look like anything new.

That’s because the difference between the blended-curvature and the curvature mesh is more than skin deep, quite literally. The two different types of mesh may look similar on the outside, but the generation of the internal elements is where the two methods diverge. The curvature based mesh only uses the curvature algorithm to generate the surface elements. All internal elements then switch back to the original (standard) triangulation method for calculation. This can cause the aspect ratio on some elements where surface geometry is particularly detailed or complex to be rather dramatic, which is not a quality we look for in a good mesh. In extreme circumstances, it can even cause the mesh to fail.

It is these occasions of failure when you would turn to the new blended curvature mesh. The new algorithm does a better job transitioning between the high quality surface mesh and the less refined sub-surface elements in situations where there is fine detail on the surface. It even has the additional capability to calculate the minimum element size based on your geometry. Using the capability to view section clippings of mesh plots (also new in SOLIDWORKS 2016), we can see the subtle difference in the progression of the mesh in different depths of this component. Note: the white elements are those that span the section clipping plane.

Curvature-Based Max Aspect Ratio

This all sounds great, right? Why would we even bother with the other mesh options now? One very simple reason: the blended curvature mesh is slow. Unlike the standard and curvature-based algorithms, this new option is unable to leverage the power of multiple processors during the meshing phase and therefore, it should always be used as a last resort in the event that both other meshing algorithms fail. But it’s great to know that for the rare occasions when the curvature-based mesh isn’t quite robust enough, this new blended-curvature option will be there to save the day!

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