The Simulation Virtual Wall

Here is a little tip/trick when it comes to SOLIDWORKS Simulation. Have you ever been in the situation where you need to simulate a model relevant to a wall or even the floor? Quite often the only solution that users come to is simply modelling the wall/floor within the simulation. While there is no issue with this technique, it can often result in a much greater number of elements in the model and in turn a greater solution time for the analysis. Well, in this blog we are going to walk through an alternative method where you no longer need to model the ‘wall’ within your simulation.

So, how do we go about simulating the ‘wall’ without modelling it?  The answer is actually quite simple believe it or not, and has been an option within SOLIDWORKS Simulation for several years now. This option is known as the “Virtual Wall”.  You might be asking “where can I find this option?”… the Virtual wall can be found within your contact sets (see figure below).

To understand the virtual wall a little better we will look at an example model. The example we’ll use is a boat cleat that you can see in the image below. To use the Virtual Wall within your study, you’ll need to create a reference plane at the location where you would like the wall to be. In this case, the plane has been created on the bottom surface of the model. The selections for this virtual wall can be best seen in the image shown below.

As you can see, the two selections needed for the virtual wall are the face acting against the wall and the plane which will act as the wall itself. Within the Property Manager you may also notice that a gap clearance can also be included in the creation of the wall, along with the incorporation of a friction factor. As the plane is coincident with the bottom face we can ignore the clearance option for this model and we will also assume that friction is not a factor here.

Since we created the virtual wall using a contact set, you will notice that it is automatically added into your simulation tree as a fixture. The reason for this is because you are essentially restraining your model in a specific way. Finally, all that is left to do is mesh the model and hit Run. To understand the results you can expect when using the virtual wall please see the images below.

Notice how the boat cleat can separate from the Virtual Wall, however, it is unable to pass through, just how you might have expected. This really can be a time saver when it comes to this scenario as there is very little setup required and can even reduce your solution time.

I hope you’ve found this useful and maybe a few of you will even consider using the virtual wall next time the opportunity arises.


Kieran Young is an Applications Engineer at TMS CADCentre, a SOLIDWORKS Value Added Reseller in Scotland.

You can read more from Kieran on the TMS CADCentre blog

TMS CADCentre is a SOLIDWORKS Reseller based in Scotland providing CAD Design Software, analysis software & product data management software. Founded in 1981, TMS CADCentre is the only UK SOLIDWORKS Reseller based and funded within Scotland and have been providing SOLIDWORKS software, training and support since 1996 when the product was first launched in the UK.