Altair is a reputation lengthy related to a few of the most superior simulation applied sciences obtainable, however in newer years, the corporate has been exploring the potential to deliver its instruments to a a lot wider viewers. Whereas this has predominantly been carried out by way of its solidThinking model up to now, the corporate additionally made an acquisition in October 2018 that expanded its portfolio considerably.
SimSolid is the flagship product of a start-up that had been round for a great few years earlier than its acquisition by Altair. It’s primarily based on a meshless methodology of simulating massive, absolutely featured CAD fashions. Whereas the underlying rules round how the system operates are fairly hardcore, the fundamentals are maybe finest understood through a walk-through instance, so let’s dive straight in.
We’ll start with the arrange for a brand new examine. SimSolid is a project-based system, permitting you to have, inside a single challenge, a number of units of geometry, a number of examine varieties (it helps linear and non-linear structural, modal, transient and thermal analyses.)
For these engaged on extra advanced assemblies, a number of subsystems or certainly, fast iterations through the early levels of design and engineering, it will show invaluable for managing information and outcomes.
As ever, step one is to import your geometry. SimSolid has a great vary of import choices – from the standard suspects of STEP, IGES, SAT and Parasolid, by way of to some extra native codecs together with Catia V4, V5 and V6, Inventor, Professional/E and Creo, Solidworks and Siemens NX. It’ll additionally learn in STL information, however I’m not 100% satisfied that’s one of the best format to make use of.
Whereas most simulation techniques would observe the trail of importing CAD geometry (or constructing it from scratch), then providing you with instruments to mesh that geometry as the idea for the simulation, SimSolid differs fairly considerably.
The necessity for a mesh has been eliminated, as SimSolid works straight with authentic, unsimplified geometry. Throughout import, the geometry is classed, and particular high-order capabilities are used to approximate the preliminary resolution. Proprietary adaptive evaluation that domestically enriches the capabilities is then used to additional refine the outcome. This offers SimSolid each its velocity and accuracy.
In some situations, that is purely right down to form, however in others, it’ll recognise type (resembling bolts, washers, springs or skinny sheets), in addition to geometric options resembling by way of holes. It is going to then outline a light-weight bodily mannequin that represents a bolt, for instance, in your meeting tree.
To the person, the geometry merely imports and shows on display, permitting them to pick, work together, view/cover and part it.
However behind the scenes, it’s swapping out what would historically be a fancy finite component mesh for a way more light-weight information mannequin for every half.
The next move is a bit more interactive, relying on the complexity of your product and the way it’s put collectively. It’s worthwhile to outline the connections between all of its constituent components.
As with most such duties, you may apply an automatic connection-finding routine to your meeting, which is able to discover and assign these connections primarily based on a world setting (resembling ‘all connections are bonded’).
In fact, in lots of circumstances, there are extra advanced interactions between components, so a great step is to outline the particular circumstances first, then apply the automated routine.
Our instance tasks, for instance, characteristic loads of welding, and SimSolid lets you outline these explicitly, both as seam welds or spot welds.
There are additionally instruments to make use of bolted connections together with pre-tension. It’s doable to outline distant lots the place wanted, which could be very helpful for outlining supporting buildings, with out the necessity to mannequin what it’s that they’re really supporting.
The final common process earlier than you get into particular simulation research is to outline the supplies in your meeting. As with all good simulation codes, SimSolid is equipped with a pre-baked number of engineering supplies.
This options each linear and non-linear materials properties (for the reason that system helps non-linear structural work) and, after all, you should utilize your personal. You’ll be able to work by way of your components by materials grouping, choosing components manually and making use of the right supplies – or you may apply then as a complete, then select particular person components to edit.
As well as, SimSolid helps direct import of CAD-defined materials properties for frequent functions resembling Solidworks, NX, Creo and Onshape.
This set-up course of is prime to getting good, correct outcomes out of the system. For those who spend the time ensuring every thing is precisely outlined right here, you’ll have a stable base on which to conduct your research. There are instruments constructed into assist you to obtain that, from easy randomisation of part color (which helps with visualising what may be very advanced fashions), by way of to extra analytic instruments to show and assessment disconnected components and connections in place.
Defining your first examine
With geometry, supplies and people all-important connections in place, it’s time to check out one of many simulation research doable in SimSolid. The system, as we’ve already talked about, contains each linear and non-linear structural analyses – helpful for each non-linear materials behaviours but additionally non-linear geometry issues (resembling largescale deformation and so forth.) Alongside these, dynamics use time, frequency or random response together with base excitation.
We’re going to work by way of a linear structural evaluation of an older bike body. Whereas this isn’t an enormous meeting by way of the variety of components, setting this up in a conventional simulation system can be greater than just a little troublesome when you issue in several supplies and connection varieties (resembling bolts, welds and so forth) and the curious loading circumstances.
As you begin a brand new examine, all the info you’ve already outlined transfers into a brand new folder within the challenge tree. You’ll spot that SimSolid has positioned your supplies and connections right here – but when wants be, these will be overridden the place acceptable on your examine. As we’re engaged on a structural simulation, we’ll now have to outline the boundary circumstances for that examine – the standard constraints (by way of the place the meeting is mounted) and the forces, pressures, hundreds and so forth.
SimSolid has a transparent workflow for these and also you outline every set of boundary circumstances utilizing their very own dialogues, choosing the suitable command from a vertical toolbar to the suitable of the primary modelling window.
These separate dialogues imply it’s very fast to begin including mounted faces, for instance; the dialogue pops up and also you navigate across the mannequin, choosing every face. There are instruments to tangent faces to these alternatives and you may in a short time construct up your record proven within the dialogue. Hit ‘apply’ and it’s accomplished – with a brand new entry added to the challenge browser. Whereas different mainstream instruments would possibly require choice utilizing the acquainted CTRL and mouse choice methodology, the itemizing is extra helpful, permitting you to take away misselected faces, factors or different geometry with ease.
SimSolid’s structural instruments have a great set of boundary circumstances obtainable, overlaying a lot of the foundation – mounted, sliding, hinge and pivot constraints. Loading circumstances vary from the standard suspects of drive and strain to the likes of bearing, gravity, distant mass hundreds, thermal hundreds, hydrostatic and nut and bolt pre-tension hundreds.
When you’ve accomplished your set-up, you may run a fast verify, though this simply to make sure that you’ve gotten a completely linked meeting and the minimal viable boundary circumstances outlined.
Then it’s time to maneuver on to calculation – and that is the place issues get actually fascinating. For those who’ve used simulation know-how earlier than (with just a few exceptions), you’ll bear in mind that the cycle of ‘CAD to mesh to unravel’ is commonly a prolonged one. The resolve half alone can differ from minutes to hours, if not days, relying on the complexity of your mesh and your examine necessities.
SimSolid, against this, doesn’t actually have a resolve step, as this course of occurs in a matter of seconds. For instance, our linear structural examine took simply three seconds to unravel. Sure, as your research develop in complexity, so will resolve occasions, however these are delivered an order of magnitude quicker than is the case with most conventional techniques.
Outcomes inspection comes round much more rapidly with SimSolid, so it’s a great job that this stage is fairly easy to dig into.
On the backside of the identical vertical toolbar, you’ll discover the outcomes operations. The primary port of name would be the ‘Outcomes Plot’ icon.
This expands to present you a spread of different instruments for plotting Von Mises, stresses, strains, displacements and the like – all as you’ll count on.
The legend that pops up into every plot kind is absolutely interactive, so you’ve gotten instruments to finetune show, output (by way of items, deformation scaling), minimal/most bounds locking, in addition to animation instruments.
In fact, these differ for every simulation kind, however the fundamentals are all the identical.
Beneath your plotting choices, you’ll then discover instruments for particular person level inspection, graph plotting, bolt/nut resultant forces and extra.
And that is what’s key to SimSolid: on the floor of it, the system appears very straightforward to make use of. And infrequently, within the simulation world, that’s related to ‘not a lot performance’, however when you dig into every icon for outcomes show and mannequin interrogation, it’s clear that you could pull helpful information out of your simulations, reasonably than simply generate fairly photos (which it additionally does, by the best way).
Different examine varieties
Whereas we don’t have house to element each examine kind that SimSolid at the moment helps, it’s value detailing the extra varieties of work you are able to do with the software program. In addition to linear and non-linear structural research, you can even transfer into modal simulation.
Once more, these research are merely outlined out of your current dataset. You’ll be able to switch objects from a structural examine the place acceptable (resembling mounted constraints and so forth) and tweak the place wanted.
You then inform the system the variety of modes you wish to uncover, and the system brings your solutions again in seconds. As you’d count on, the outcomes interpretation instruments help you dig into outcomes.
Alongside modal research, additionally, you will discover alternatives to discover transient, frequency and random-response research, and eventually, thermal research.
SimSolid is a cracking simulation instrument for these trying to simulate the efficiency of large-scale, advanced assemblies, however in a timeframe that makes simulation an everyday side of design and engineering – one thing not available elsewhere.
What’s fascinating is that this time discount shouldn’t be actually concerning the time to compute outcomes, both. It’s extra about having the ability to use your design and engineering geometry, as is, with out having to first spend hours defeaturing and simplifying it and ultimately meshing it, earlier than then having to undergo all the set-up work to get to the purpose of hitting ‘resolve’.
Whereas there’ll at all times be a set-up and a resolve time price to simulation, having the ability to merely use your CAD geometry is rather more environment friendly. It saves you all that point and, chances are high, you’ll be extra inclined to run a number of research, a number of design iterations or variants by way of the simulation course of.
So your time financial savings rapidly add up – or maybe extra critically, the identical period of time is used, however you study much more and your merchandise get higher in consequence.
Then, if you happen to contemplate the truth that resolve occasions are measured in minutes at finest, it’s clear why SimSolid has the potential to empower its customers to an infinite extent.
There’s a completely purposeful trial obtainable, so it’s value downloading and throwing some information at it. I believe you’ll be shocked at how environment friendly this method is.