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SolidWorks 2013

SolidWorks Flow Simulation:

Electronics Module
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SolidWorks 2013


Lesson 1:
Introduction to Electronics Module
Objectives . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1
Electronic Module. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2
Case Study: Computer Box. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2
Project Description . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2
Stages in the Process. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3
Default Outer Wall Thermal Condition . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4
Printed Circuit Boards . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5
Perforated Plates . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9
Two-Resistor Components . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11
Heat Pipes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13
Mesh Considerations. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16
Conclusions. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22

SolidWorks 2013

Lesson 1
Introduction to Electronics

Objectives Upon successful completion of this lesson, you will be able to:
I Utilize the Electronic Module to design efficient cooling systems
for electronics.
I Properly define two-resistor and heat pipe components.
I Properly specify the PCB composite laminate.

Lesson 1 SolidWorks 2013
Introduction to Electronics Module

Electronic The Electronics module features new capabilities for the simulation of
Module heat pipes, two-resistor components and Joule heating by electric
current in solids. Additionally, the engineering database is enhanced
with multiple materials, two-resistor components, heat pipes and other
entries specific to the design and simulation of electronics products.
Case Study: In this lesson, we will introduce some of the features of the Electronic
Computer Box module in Flow Simulation and learn how to post-process the results
and make judgments on the design of the computer box. It is expected
that the student is familiar with the Flow Simulation software. The
lesson will not teach the basic aspects of the Flow Simulation project
definition and postprocessing.
It is recommended to refer to the Flow Simulation documentation for
further details on the theory behind the solver.
Project A computer box
Description containing CPU,
(northbridge and
southbridge), heat
sink, two heat
pipes and some
connectors is
placed in a room
with ambient
temperature of
20C. The air at room temperature enters the box through the vents
located on the sides, on the top and on the bottom of the box. The air is
forced out of the box by the internal fan located on the back side of the
box next to the heat sink.
The objective of this lesson is to ensure that the temperature of the
critical electronics components, namely CPU and the chipset remains
below the maximum operating temperatures listed in the table below.

Component Maximum operating temperature

Northbridge 85C
Southbridge 95C

SolidWorks 2013 Lesson 1
Introduction to Electronics Module

Stages in the I Create the project.

Process The project will be created using the Wizard.
I Define PCB.
PCB composite will be defined in the engineering database and
I Apply boundary conditions.
Proper boundary conditions will be applied to simulate the air inlets
and outlets. Additionally, a wall condition will be used to simulate
the heat loss due to convection to the outside.
I Specify perforated plates.
Custom perforated plates will be defined in the engineering
database and applied to the model.
I Apply two-resistor components.
Two-resistor components will be applied to accurately model CPU
and the chipset (northbridge and southbridge).
I Define heat pipes.
Heat pipe features of the Electronic module will be specified.
I Define contact resistances.
Material contact resistances will be specified for the interface
between the heat pipes and the electronic components.
Furthermore, infinite contact resistances will be applied to the
exposed external faces of the heat pipes.
I Define simulation goals and initial mesh.

I Run the analysis.

I Post-process the results.

Maximum temperatures on the critical components will be

1 Open an assembly file.

Open Electronics Assembly from the Case Study\Computer box
2 Activate configuration.
Activate configuration Simulation.
This simplified configuration was prepared specifically for the flow
simulation. Notice that all peripheral components are modeled as boxes
and shapes of some of the electronic components are simplified.

Lesson 1 SolidWorks 2013
Introduction to Electronics Module

3 Create a project.
Create a new study using the Wizard with the following settings:

Configuration Use current:

name Simulation
Project name Cooling
Unit system SI (m-kg-s)
Change the units for Temperature to C.
Analysis Type Internal
Physical Features Select Exclude cavities without flow conditions.

Select the Heat conduction in Solids check box.

Select the Gravity box.
The Y component of -9.81 m/s^2 is the correct direction and value for
this analysis.
Database of In the Fluids list, under Gases, double-click Air to add it to the Project
Fluids Fluids.
Solids Default solid should be set to Aluminum.
Wall conditions Select Heat transfer coefficient as the Default outer wall thermal
condition. Enter 10 W/m^2/K and 20.05C as the Heat transfer
coefficient and Temperature of external fluid, respectively.
The default Roughness value of 0 micro meter is acceptable for this
Initial conditions Default conditions.
Results & Set the Result resolution to 3.

Default Outer Wall In this lesson, we specified a Default Outer Wall Thermal Condition
Thermal Condition as a convection coefficient and ambient temperature. This defines the
thermal condition outside of the computer box. We assume that the
external air has a temperature of 20.05C and moves slowly due to the
gravity effects only (convective coefficient of 10 W/m^2/K).

4 Apply solid materials.

Under Input Data, right-click Solid Materials and select Insert Solid
Select Copper under Metals and apply it to the heatsink component.
Click OK.

SolidWorks 2013 Lesson 1
Introduction to Electronics Module

Note The rest of the components are modeled using the special features of
the Electronics module, (two-resistor components for CPU and the
chipset parts, for example). Solid materials are not assigned to these

Printed Circuit PCB composite laminates exhibits anisotropic material behavior. The
Boards electronics module allows users to enter the detailed layup of various
PCB composites and store it in the Engineering database. Flow
Simulation then automatically calculates the effective material
properties (conductivities in all directions, for example).

5 Define PCB composite.

Under Flow Simulation, Tools open Engineering Database.
Under Database tree, expand Printed Circuit Boards and select
the User Defined folder.
Click New Item and enter the following properties for conducting and
dielectric layers.

Material constants for

conducting and
dielectric layers

Effective composite

Lesson 1 SolidWorks 2013
Introduction to Electronics Module

When finished, click the

Tables and Curves tab
and input the composite
layup, as shown in the

Note The Layer Thickness implies the thickness of the conducting layer
defined by the thickness of the conductive material in each lamina. The
Percentage Cover parameters indicate the volume fraction of the
conducting material in the body of each conducting layer.
Click Save and close the Engineering Database window.
The effective properties of the PCB composite are automatically
computed and shown in the table (see the Engineering Database
6 Assign PCB material.
Under Input Data, right-click Printed Circuit
Boards and select Insert Printed Circuit Board.
From the User Defined folder, select 6S2P
composite created in the previous step.
Select the PCB assembly part.
Click OK.

SolidWorks 2013 Lesson 1
Introduction to Electronics Module

7 Specify pressure boundary conditions.

Define Environment Pressure boundary condition on four lids of the
Base. Use the internal faces of the lids.

Note The inlet is defined by the opening in the side walls of the Base rather
than the perforated area of the Cover.
Define Static Pressure boundary condition on the bridge opening.
Use the internal face of the lid.

Lesson 1 SolidWorks 2013
Introduction to Electronics Module

Specify Environmental Pressure boundary condition on the lid

covering the main four slits on the top of the Cover.

Note Flow Simulation will automatically detect four slits and correctly apply
the boundary condition.
Specify Environmental Pressure boundary
condition on the inside face of the fan outlet

8 Define internal fan.

Under Input Data, right-click Fans and
select Insert Fan.
Under Type select Internal Fan.
Under Faces Fluid Exits Fan and
Faces Fluid Enters Fan select the two
faces as shown in the figure. Note that
the air is forced out of the enclosure.
Under Fan select Axial, Papst, Papst
405 from the Pre-Defined folder. Keep
the rest of the parameters at their default
Click OK.

SolidWorks 2013 Lesson 1
Introduction to Electronics Module

Note The air is forced out of the enclosures.

Make sure that the faces for Faces Fluid
Exits Fan and Faces Fluid Enters Fan
are selected correctly and the direction of
the feature arrows points as shown in the

Note A reasonable simplification would be the outlet fan type defined

directly on the enclosure face. The current solution represents more
accurate position of the fan with respect to the heatsink.

Perforated Plates The perforated plates feature is used to model inlet and outlet flows
through thin perforated walls where a typical 3D mesh would result in
an excessive number of cells. The perforated plate condition must be
applied in conjunction with the environmental pressure boundary

9 Define perforated places.

Similar to step 5, open the Engineering Database.
Expand the Perforated Plates folder. Under the User Defined folder
define the following two perforated plate features.

Note The parameters of the Plate 1 and Plate 2 features correspond to the
perforated plates at the fan outlet and the four side air inlets,

Lesson 1 SolidWorks 2013
Introduction to Electronics Module

10 Assign perforated plates.

Under Input Data, right-click
Perforated Plates and select Insert
Perforated Plate.
From the User Defined folder,
select Plate 1.
Select the inside face of the fan
outlet lid.
Click OK.

Note The perforated plate feature requires existing environmental pressure or

fan boundary condition. The selected face must therefore be the same
as the one used in the definition of the pressure condition in step 7.

Note To automatically select the correct face you may choose to click the
corresponding environmental pressure boundary condition in the Flow
Simulation analysis tree.
Similarly, assign
Plate 2 perforated
plate feature to the
four lids of the Base.

SolidWorks 2013 Lesson 1
Introduction to Electronics Module

Two-Resistor Two-resistor components are used to model thermal behavior of the

Components small electronic components such as CPU, chipsets, memories etc.
Rather than using a single body, two-resistor component simplifies the
complex shape with two parallelepiped parts. The Junction is the lower
part directly in contact with the PCB. The upper part is then referred to
as the Case.

Adiabatic walls
Adiabatic walls Case



PCB board

Both parts are isolated at their sides forcing the heat to travel in the
direction normal to the plane of the parallelepiped. The thermal
properties are expressed using Junction-to-Case (JC) and Junction-to-
Board (JB) thermal resistances of the infinitely thin plates at the
respective interfaces.

Lesson 1 SolidWorks 2013
Introduction to Electronics Module

Electronic module has an extensive library

of two-resistor components. The figure
shows parameters for
PBGAFC_40x40mm_2R consisting of
the parallelepiped dimensions (thickness
and two planar dimensions), and two
thermal resistances.
Caution must be paid to the geometry of the parallelepiped components
in the SolidWorks model. Their physical dimensions must agree with
the dimensions in the engineering database.

11 Specify two-resistor
Right-click the Two Resistor
Components icon and select
Insert Two-Resistor
Select cpu 2r case as the Case
Body and cpu 2r junction as
the Junction Body.
Under Component select
Under Source enter 14W for
the Heat Generation Rate.
Click OK.

Following the same procedure, specify the remaining two-resistor

components for the chipset (northbridge and southbridge).

Northbridge Southbridge
Case northbridge 2r case southbridge 2r case
Junction northbridge 2r junction southbridge 2r junction
Component PBGAFC_37_5x37_5mm_2R LQFP_256_28x28mm_2R
Heat Rate 4.3 W 2.5 W

SolidWorks 2013 Lesson 1
Introduction to Electronics Module

Heat Pipes A heat pipe is an efficient heat transfer mechanism between two solid
interfaces. It combines the principles of both thermal conductivity and
phase transition.
To define a heat pipe component, a solid body and two faces (one for
cold, one for hot interfaces) are required.

12 Specify heat pipes.

Right-click the Heat Pipes
icon and select Insert Heat
Select cpu heat pipe as the
Components to Apply Heat
Select the face of the cpu
heat pipe in contact with the
CPU as Heat In Faces.
Select the two faces of the
cpu heat pipe in contact
with the heatsink as Heat Out Faces.
Under Effective Thermal Resistance, enter 0.3 C/W.
Click OK.

Note The Effective Thermal Resistance parameter represents the

resistance of the heat pipe to the flow. This value is typically very small
as heat pipes are very efficient.
Following the same procedure, specify the remaining heat pipe
between the northbridge and the heatsink components. Use the same
Effective Thermal Resistance.

Lesson 1 SolidWorks 2013
Introduction to Electronics Module

13 Specify contact resistances for heat-in faces.

Right-click the Contact Resistances icon and select Insert Contact
Select the heat in faces on both heat pipes (see the figure). Identical
faces were used as Heat In Faces in the definition of the heat pipes in
the previous step.
Under Type select Resistance and under Interface Materials select
the Bond-Ply 660 @ 25 psi from the Pre-Defined, Interface
Materials, Bergquist, Bond-Ply folder.

Note The Flow Simulation engineering database with the Electronics module
license features extensive list of the available interface materials.

SolidWorks 2013 Lesson 1
Introduction to Electronics Module

14 Specify contact resistances for exposed heat pipe faces.

Heap pipes are very efficient heat conductors with minimum thermal
resistance. To simplify the calculation we will assume that no heat is
flowing from the heat pipes into the surrounding air. This will be done
by specifying infinite contact resistance.
Right-click the Contact Resistances icon
and select Insert Contact Resistance.
In the FeatureManager tree, using the CTRL
key, click both bodies of the cpu heat pipe
and heat pipe short components. Flow
Simulation will select all outside faces into
the Faces to apply the contact resistance
selection window.
Click the Filter Faces icon to open the filter
dialog, select Keep outer and fluid-
contacting faces and run the filter by
clicking the Filter button.
Under Type select Resistance.
Under Thermal Resistance select Infinite
resistance (Pre-Defined folder).
Click OK.

15 Specify volume goals.

Under Input Data, right-click Goals and select Insert Volume Goal.
Under Selection select cpu 2r case and cpu 2r junction
Under Parameter specify Av and Max for Temperature (Solid).
Edit the Name Template to CPU VG
Click OK.
Continue with the definition of the volume goals for the chipset
components (northbridge and southbridge) and the heatsink.

Lesson 1 SolidWorks 2013
Introduction to Electronics Module

16 Specify surface goal.

Following similar procedure, define a separate Mass Flow Rate
surface goal for each air inlet and outlet.

Note A definition can be conveniently done with a

single command using the Create goal for
each surface option.

Mesh As in any simulation project, mesh plays important role in the quality
Considerations of the solution. Proper mesh generation requires iterative approach
while adjusting various mesh parameters until the desired optimum
discretization is achieved.
In the current model, it is advisable to discretize the interface between
the PCB and the two-resistor components with cells terminating at this
interface. We will achieve this by placing one control plane at the said
interface (figure in the next step). Also, to mesh the thin features of the
PCB and the two-resistor components, we will adjust the cell Ratio
values accordingly.
Lastly, local mesh controls for the thermally important components,
heatsink and the two-resistor components, will be defined as well.

17 Specify initial mesh.

Right-click Input Data and select Initial Mesh.
Clear the Automatic settings checkbox.
Under Basic Mesh, Control Intervals, click the Add Plane button to
open the Create Control Planes window.
Select plane parallel to ZX, Reference
Geometry, and click the vertex on the
PCB face defining the plane of interface
with the two-resistor components (see
the figure).
Click OK to close the Create Control
Planes window.

Back in the Initial Mesh window, under Basic Mesh, enter the Ratio
values of 2 and -3 for Y1 and Y2 intervals, respectively.

SolidWorks 2013 Lesson 1
Introduction to Electronics Module

Note With Ratio values as specified, the cells adjacent to PCB will be
smaller, growing in size with the distance.
Under Number of cells, enter the basic mesh parameters as indicated
in the figure below.

Click the Solid/Fluid Interface tab and reduce Small solid feature
refinement level to 1. Also, make sure that the rest of the parameters
are set as shown in the figure below.

Click OK.

Lesson 1 SolidWorks 2013
Introduction to Electronics Module

18 Specify local initial mesh for two-resistor components.

Under Input Data, right-click Local Initial Meshes and select Insert
Local Initial Mesh.
With the help of the CTRL key, multiple select all two-resistor
components. A total of six bodies should be selected.
Clear Auto settings.
Under Refining Cells, set both the Refine partial cells and Refine
solid cells parameters to level 2.
Click OK.
19 Specify local initial mesh for heatsink.
Using the same procedure, create another local initial mesh for the
Use the settings from step 18 for the parameters under the Refining
Cells tab.
Under the Narrow Channels tab, set the Characteristic number of
cells across a narrow channel to 5 and Narrow channels
refinement level to 2.
20 Generate mesh.
Under the Flow Simulation menu, click: Solve, Run.
Uncheck the Solve checkbox.
Make sure that the Mesh and the Load results options are checked.
Click Run.

Note The above step will generate mesh only.

SolidWorks 2013 Lesson 1
Introduction to Electronics Module

21 Mesh plots.
Show the mesh on the plane parallel to the assembly Front plane, at
the position -0.0595 m.

It can be seen that the cells terminate at the interface between the PCB
and the two-resistor components, Also, cells are growing in size with
distance from the PCB.
Show the mesh on the plane parallel to the assembly Front plane, at
the position -0.00381 m.

At this position, the plane is passing through the heatsink. We can see
that only one full cell is discretizing the narrow channel. This mesh
deficiency is caused purposely to reduce the computational time
required to solve this simulation. For more accurate solution in the
heatsink region, the Narrow channel refinement level specified in
step 19 needs to be increased.

Lesson 1 SolidWorks 2013
Introduction to Electronics Module

Show the mesh on the plane parallel to the assembly Right plane, at
the position 0.0109 m.

At this position, the plane is passing through one of the heatsink

narrow channels. The discretization seems fine in the direction.
However, as we found out the discretization would have to increase
somewhat to correctly mesh the width of the narrow channels.
22 Solve.
Similarly to step 20, execute the Solve, Run command.
This time, uncheck Mesh.
Check the Solve and the Load results checkboxes.
Click Run.

Note The solve time should take up to thirty minutes.

SolidWorks 2013 Lesson 1
Introduction to Electronics Module

23 Show temperature results.

Define a Surface Plot for all thermally important components:
heatsink and all of the two-resistor components.
Make sure to set the plot legend limits to the plot rather than the global

The temperature of the electronic components must now be compared

against the limits stated at the beginning of the lesson. We can
immediately see that the CPU temperature of 81.5 C exceeds the limit
of 80 C. The cooling system is therefore insufficient.
The temperature of the other components can be checked easily with
the help of the goals or surface parameters.
24 List temperature of the important components.
Define a Goal Plot for all defined temperature goals and show the table
with the extremes for all important components.

The critical temperatures are marked in red. It is clear that the CPU
overheats and the cooling must be redesigned. The chipset components
(northbridge and southbridge) are thermally safe with sufficient margin
of safety.

Lesson 1 SolidWorks 2013
Introduction to Electronics Module

Conclusions In this lesson, we evaluated a design of cooling for electronic computer

box. Advanced features of the electronics module, namely heat pipes,
two-resistor components, PCB composite interface were shown and
practiced in detail.
Two-resistor components are special features enabling users to model
thin electronic components such as CPUs with greater level of fidelity.
Heat pipes are efficient heat transporting devices employing both
principles of the heat conduction and phase transition. Lastly, the PCB
composite interface enables users to enter the layup composition of the
PCBs and store them in the engineering database. Flow Simulation then
automatically computes the effective material constants required for the
In this lesson we found that with the proposed cooling the CPU unit
overheats. Redesign of the cooling system is therefore necessary.