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The Summer of Simulation #3:

5 things you
should do before
showing your
FEA results to
anyone

Shuvom Ghose
800-424-2255 x1110
shuvom@capinc.com
www.capinc.com

Who we are

is

s leading

reseller of SolidWorks CAD and


tools, and

Who we are
Slides prepared by CAPINC Engineer:
Shuvom Ghose

Who makes

with your companys specific

work

Why follow these five steps?


There will always be people who
doubt your FEA results (and FEA
use in general).
Dont give the doubters any
more ammunition.
Do all you can to solidify your
FEA results before showing
them to people.

CAPINC

5 things to do before showing


off your FEA results!
1.

Ask the right question.

2.

Do a sanity check. Any check.

3.

Make sure the mesh doesnt matter.

4.

Test a second failure condition.

5.

Document your assumptions.

CAPINC

Step 1: Ask the right question


If you were given this aircraft
bracket to analyze, what would you
ask of FEA first?

8000 lbs.
Total upward
force

Titanium:
Ti-6AL-4V
Fixed at 4 corners
Many folks might ask: What is the maximum stress in the
bracket? Within, say, +/- 10 percent?
(Bracket model courtesy of user optimal_aj from GrabCAD.com)

Step 1: Ask the right question


But if you ask about the absolute
stress, now EVERY aspect of your
study is called into question:

Is 8000 lbs.
really the right
force? What if
the load is at an
angle?

Is
Ti-6AL-4V
the closest alloy?
Is Fixed a realistic
constraint for
these bolts?
Is this mesh fine
enough for this
complex geometry?

Step 1: Ask the right question


Worse than that, now youll get into
the Percentage Game with your
doubters. Youll say:

8000 lbs.?

Given all these questions, the max


stress is probably accurate within
15%.
Ti-6AL-4V?
Fixed?
15 percent? HA! Youll need accuracy
better than +/- 5 percent to convince
ME!

Mesh fine
enough?

Step 1: Ask the right question


Upward force

But instead of
maximum stress, what
if you asked:
Weve got two
competing bracket
designs. Which one is
better?

Fixed
CAPINC

Step 1: Ask the right question

Then, with just a 1


minute FEA study, you
learn that the lower
bracket is:
77% Heavier
16% Worse
displacement in
the pull direction

CAPINC

(Same load, mesh settings,


fixtures, material)

Step 1: Ask the right question


And the best part is, all those
doubts we had with the absolute
study fall away, since they are
the same for both relative
bracket studies!
This means doubters cant object
to the results!
77% Heavier
Um

CAPINC

16% Worse
displacement

(Same load, mesh settings,


fixtures, material)

You can make a LOT of decisions


by asking the right questions:
160% heavier
50% better Z disp.

77% heavier
16% worse Z disp.
216% heavier
34% better Z disp.

The RIGHT question


At CAPINC, we call this the A vs. B comparison. Use it to make
your FEA cycles faster, since EVERY design decision can be boiled
down to a choice of: Do we do this? Or this? Or neither?

CAPINC

5 things to do before showing


off your FEA results!
1.

Ask the right question.

2.

Do a sanity check. Any check.

3.

Make sure the mesh doesnt


matter.

4.

Test a second failure condition.

5.

Document your assumptions.

CAPINC

Step 2: Do a sanity check


Returning to absolute
numbers, with 8000 lbs.
upward force on the lugs, the
maximum reported stress in
the part is:
3.6e5 psi.

Is that way too much? Way too


little? In the ballpark? If weve
never seen a shape like this, how
can we tell?
CAPINC

Sanity check: the location of


max stress
Is your max stress
right next to one of
your restrained,
rigidly fixed faces?
Then the number
is fake.

The fixed face distorts the stress around it, since one
end of those mesh nodes cant move at all, leading to
more stress on the element. To get a more accurate
number, wed have to change the fixed restraint, or
model the bolts and plate theyre attached to.

Sanity check: magnitude of


stresses
Using a Design Insight plot (found
in all levels of SolidWorks
Simulation), we can see that the
back legs carry most of the stress
when this bracket is pulled upward.

Blue= loaded

CAPINC

Sanity check: magnitude of


stresses
8000 lbs.
Total upward force

Stresses ~
4e4 psi?

Using an Iso Clipping plot (found in


all levels of SolidWorks
Simulation), we can see that the
stress in those loaded back legs is
around 4e4 psi.

Is that way too much? Not enough?


How can we tell?

CAPINC

Sanity check: magnitude of


stresses
And if you look at those back legs and
squint a little, that back leg is sort of a
cylinder about 0.5 diameter:

CAPINC

Sanity check: magnitude of


stresses
So what would happen if we
took a cylinder of that size
and put 8000 lbs. of load on
it?

CAPINC

8000 lbs.

Sanity check: magnitude of


stresses
8000 lbs. Total upward force
on bracket

Stresses ~
4e4 psi in
~0.5 dia
leg

8000 lbs. upward force


on test coupon
Stresses = 4e4
psi in 0.5 dia
section

With results in the same magnitude (e4 psi), we can conclude that our
initial stress results are NOT INSANE. Thats all we can tell.

Objection!
Youre estimating the
stresses in your part
with a cylinder under
tension?
I can do what with a
simple hand calculation!
Why do we need some
fancy, expensive FEA
package to accomplish
that!?!
Back in my day

CAPINC

8000 lbs. upward force


on test coupon
4e4 psi

Answer: the cylinder gives a sense of the


magnitude, but cant tell you anything about
stress distribution, or A vs. B comparison of
choices

CAPINC

Other sanity checks: hoop


stress for pressurized vessels
On-line Hoop Stress Calculator:
http://www.engineersedge.com/calculators/hoop-s
tress.htm

CAPINC

Other sanity checks: cantilevered


beam calculator inside of SolidWorks

CAPINC

Other sanity checks


Whats the MOST this number could be?
Whats the LEAST?
What is the range of your plots legend?
Are deformations still Elastic, i.e. are
they under 0.2% strain? (Linear solvers
assume all deformations are elastic.)
CAPINC

5 things to do before showing


off your FEA results!
1.

Ask the right question.

2.

Do a sanity check. Any check.

3.

Make sure the mesh doesnt


matter.

4.

Test a second failure condition.

5.

Document your assumptions.

CAPINC

Step 3: Make sure the mesh


doesnt matter
31,000
mesh
elements

How many mesh


elements are
enough?

126,000
mesh
elements
CAPINC

Whats happening as you add


more mesh elements
One big mesh element is like one big spring, pretty stiff

Many mesh elements are like many small springs,


added all together, they bend more while staying in
the elastic zone

CAPINC

But meshes are tetrahedrons! It


still works! (Try this at home!)
Tip displace:
5.14e-8 in

Tip displace:
5.27e-8 in

CAPINC

But the affect of adding more mesh


elements eventually decreases

Result
Real
answe
r
What should
happen as you
increase mesh
density
Increasing mesh density

CAPINC

And this is what happens as


you increase mesh density

Z displacement,
(in)

CAPINC

Mesh elements

But the time to solve (red) also


increases

Z displacement,
(in)

CAPINC

Meshelements
elements
Mesh

So how can we keep our solve


times reasonable?
Ask the right question!
Mesh accuracy doesnt
matter if the second A
vs. B design is heavier
AND worse in
displacement!
77% Heavier
16% Worse Z
Displacement
1 minute FEA study
CAPINC

What does it mean if you get this graph


as you increase your mesh density?
Your result number

Mesh elements
CAPINC

5 things to do before showing


off your FEA results!
1.

Ask the right question.

2.

Do a sanity check. Any check.

3.

Make sure the mesh doesnt


matter.

4.

Test a second failure condition.

5.

Document your assumptions.

CAPINC

Step 4: Test a second failure


condition

8500 lbs.?

CAPINC

Step 4: Test a second failure


condition
5000 in-lbs.

CAPINC

But those tests were all part of


the original specification

CAPINC

Who remembers what we checked


for in Summer of Simulation #1?
We checked for:

Things Breaking
Things Bending too much
Things Overheating
Things Shaking at Nat. Freqs.
Long, Slender Things Buckling
Fatigue Failure

Break
Bend
Burn
Buzz
Buckle
Fat

BBBBBFat!

CAPINC

Fatigue

CAPINC

Natural Frequency

CAPINC

Step 4: Test a second failure


condition
SolidWorks Simulation Professional:

Break and Bend

Buckle
CAPINC

Burn

Fatigue

Buzz

Optimize

5 things to do before showing


off your FEA results!
1.

Ask the right question.

2.

Do a sanity check. Any check.

3.

Make sure the mesh doesnt


matter.

4.

Test a second failure condition.

5.

Document your assumptions.

BBBBBFat!

CAPINC

What do you think is your


BIGGEST FEA assumption?

Restraints

Loads

Material Properties

Contact Conditions

Mesh

Geometry
Simplification

CAPINC

What do you think is your


BIGGEST FEA assumption?

Restraints

Loads

Material Properties

Contact Conditions

Mesh

Geometry
Simplification

CAPINC

Most likely sources of error


(in general)
BIGGER
assumptions

Restraints
Geometry
Simplification
Contact Conditions
Mesh

Loads
Smaller
assumptions
CAPINC

Material Properties

How to document restraints?


(How its usually done- BAD)
Appendix F: Assumptions

Bracket variant 142A was restrained with fixed faces


at each of its bolt corners.

CAPINC

How to document restraints?


(Better)
Section 2: Assumptions (BEFORE results!)
Bracket variant 142A was restrained with fixed faces
(green) at each of its bolt corners:

CAPINC

How to document restraints?


(Best!) (For this example, changed away from fixed
restraints to make a more interesting picture)

Section 2: Assumptions
Bracket variant 142A was restrained with bolt faces only allowed
rotational motion (green cylinders) and bottom faces only allowed
sliding motion (orange planes):

CAPINC

5 things to do before showing


off your FEA results!
1.

Ask the right question.

2.

Do a sanity check. Any check.

3.

Make sure the mesh doesnt


matter.

4.

Test a second failure condition.

5.

Document your assumptions.

BBBBBFat!

CAPINC

The Summer of Sim is over, but you can still


watch our other recorded FEA webinars:

3 rules to do material
selection right

10 designs by hand,
100 by FEA

5 things to do before
anyone sees your FEA
results

http://www.capinc.com/events/webinars/recorded-webinars
CAPINC

For more information


If you want cutting edge

or

, contact
(salesinfo@capinc.com)

If you want more info on the FEA


concepts presented, contact:
(shuvom@capinc.com)