With SOLIDWORKS Simulation you can test the safety of furniture

Lightweight furniture is easy to tip over. This can produce a safety risk at home, especially with toddlers. As a designer you have the possibility to find out what kind of weight distribution and design is safe. An accident can have devastating results for the victims, but it can also seriously damage the reputation of the manufacturer or the designer. When the reputation is lost, it may be hard to get it back. The good news is that you can test the furniture virtually, before anything has even been manufactured. SOLIDWORKS is not only for design –  it is also for virtual testing, e.g. simulation.

Motion Simulation will show you whether a furniture will tip over or not

To tackle the problem, you need a handy tool, SOLIDWORKS Motion Simulation. But, before you even launch your computer or SOLIDWORKS, take a moment to think about the possible ways the tipping over can occur. Think about the table below (image 1). If someone leans on the table, what can happen? If the design is bad, it can tip over. If the load comes horizontally against the front-edge of the table, the back-edge of the table’s foot acts as a joint or a hinge over which the table rotates.

Image 1. Table.

Now that we have figured this out, we can launch SOLIDWORKS and turn the Motion add-in on. On the front portion of the table we shall define a Force, say 100 N. See the image below. To define the direction of the load we can use a reference plane.

Image 2. Force.

On the back-edge of the table’s foot we shall define a hinge. For this we can use a Coincident mate and select two edges. When the edge of the table’s foot is attached to the edge of the support, the table can rotate around that edge. Then we need to define gravity and add a contact definition between the bottom face of the table’s foot and the top face of the support so that the table can’t tip over on the opposite direction. After this we can run the simulation and animate the results. See image 3 below.

Image 3. The table is tipping over.

When we want to find out which combination of dimension values and material would make the table most stable, we could use a Design Study.

In this example the table’s material and design was such that 100 N was enough to tip it over. It took just a few seconds to run the simulation. In the same way we could discover that a load of 50 N is not enough to tip it over.

When we want to find out which combination of dimension values and materials would make the table most stable, we could use a Design Study. Design Study is a tool in SOLIDWORKS which helps you automatize the design of an optimal structure. You select the dimensions and materials which you want to vary. This way you can get a result which is both safe and feasible.

In the same way we examined a table which was leaned against we could examine a shelf which is pulled from the front-edge changing the load direction and hinge position accordingly. You could design the shelf in such a way that if would be hard for someone to tip it over. This would make it safer and you wouldn’t have to count solely on the owner of the shelf to anchor it to the floor or strap it to the wall.

Motion Simulation is included in SOLIDWORKS Premium

To create Motion Simulations, you need to have SOLIDWORKS Premium or a separate Simulation licence, e.g. Simulation Standard. To find out which license is the most suitable for you contact your local reseller.

Lari Hyttinen

Lari Hyttinen

Applications Engineer at CadWorks Oy
Lari Hyttinen works as an instructor and in tech support at CadWorks which is a SOLIDWORKS reseller in Finland. Lari is passionate about helping customers improve their skills in core SOLIDWORKS, Simulation and Composer. Lari holds a MSc in Aeronautical Engineering in Helsinki University of Technology. He was awarded as a SOLIDWORKS Elite Applications Engineer in 2013.
Lari Hyttinen
Lari Hyttinen

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