Category Archives: Tech Tips

A new capability has been added to Nonlinear studies in SOLIDWORKS Simulation showing intermediate results.  Nonlinear study types typically take the longest to run and there is no easy way to look at intermediate results before completing the calculation.  With new studies created in 2015 you can now display intermediate results in your regular graphics area while the calculation takes place.  With this new ability, if you see some unintended results it is more efficient to decide to stop the calculation early and re-examine your setup or wait until the the calculation develops further.

To make sure that this capability is enabled by default open your Simulation options from the top Simulation dropdown menu > Options > Default Options Tab > Results, look for “Show intermediate results up to current iteration (when running)

Remember that any Simulation option change only effects newly created studies and does not update any already existing studies.

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Prior to the 2015 version of SOLIDWORKS Composer when you put a lot of text into a box you would need to click on the ellipsis button (…) to open the text window and press ‘enter’ to add carriage returns for additional lines of text.


Now in 2015 SolidWorks Composer they have given us the ability to grab an anchor at the top right-hand corner of the annotation to ‘Wrap’ the text to next line by changing the size of the label.
1. From the Author Tab > Annotations group > grab Label.
2. Place your annotation in the view port.
3. Change your ‘Text’ property to ‘String’
4. Type your text into the ‘Text string’ property without any carriage returns.
5. Check the ‘Enable’ for the ‘Wrap’ property
6. Grab the red anchor dot in the upper right-hand corner of the annotation and adjust the size of you Label.
This Enhancement came directly from the Enhancement Requests on www.solidworks.com for SOLIDWORKS Composer.
If you would like to submit your own Enhancement Request (ER), log on to your SolidWorks Customer Portal Account then click this link http://www.solidworks.com/pages/services/subscription/Enhancements.html or click the Enhancement Request link on the welcome page of your Customer Portal Account.
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One of the big benefits to using a system like Enterprise PDM is the ability to parse through and manage many files and all their properties.  One feature introduced in Enterprise PDM 2014 is the ability to add User Defined Custom Columns to many of the common dialog boxes in Enterprise PDM.  This allows the user to add a column containing any variable to the Check In, Check Out, Copy Tree and Undo Check Out dialog boxes.  User Defined Custom Columns can also be added to the Contains and Where Used preview tabs in your local view.  This can be done by right clicking the table heading and selecting the “More” option.

This will bring up the “Choose Columns” dialog box where you can select from the list of variables.

After selecting from the list of variables, a new column using that variable will appear in that dialog box or preview tab.  The columns can be re-ordered using a simple drag and drop similar to the standard Windows Explorer interface.

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When you create a Static Simulation study and you want to fix a bracket to an immovable object by bolting to that immovable object you should use ‘Foundation Bolts’, this way you don’t have to model a stationary object and the bolts. The only prerequisite for Foundation Bolts is that you have a reference geometry plane to attach them to. Here are the steps to use Foundation Bolts:

1) Insert a Coincident Reference Geometry plane from the Insert menu > Reference Geometry > select Plane. Add the Reference Plane to the bottom of your bracket using Coincident or a distance whichever best represents your model. Most likely Coincident.

2) Right click over ‘Fixtures’ in the Simulation Study tree and select ‘Foundation Bolt’.

3) Pick the top edge of a single hole where your first bolt goes and also select the Reference Plane that you created back in step 1). Adjust the Nut Diameter and Nominal Shank Diameter if needed. Change Material, Strength Data and Pre-load as needed.

Hint: If you create your holes with Hole Series at the assembly level, SOLIDWORKS will prompt you if you would like “to add Bolt connectors to all holes in the Hole Series?”

4) Repeat step 3) for the remaining bolt hole locations. You can also copy the Foundation Bolt that is in your Fixtures folder and paste additional copies, changing the selected edge in the edit definition for each one. Each Foundation Bolt fixture needs to be attached to a different bolt hole edge. Copy/Paste will save time with all of the setting changes you may have made on the first Foundation Bolt but remember to change the edge selection.

5) The final step is to prevent your bracket from going through your foundation. If doing a Static study then you can add a contact set of a virtual wall between the bottom of your bracket and the plane you created back in step 1). If you are doing a non-linear then you would need to model a foundation and fix the geometry and add a contact set between the foundation and the bottom of your bracket.

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As computer specifications increase out in the market it is natural for anyone to want to apply all available resources to increase their job productivity.  We will discuss how RAM is utilized in SOLIDWORKS Simulation.  The common misconception with a computer that gets an increase of RAM is that it will increase your performance speed of your simulations.  This is in fact incorrect, although increasing the amount of RAM may slightly increase speed as a side effect, it is primarily meant to increase the number of degrees of freedom (DOF) that can be calculated on any given Simulation study.  If this fact is not known or clear, users may become puzzled as to why when solving their Simulation studies they notice in the Windows Task Manager that only a small portion of the RAM on the machine is being used.  In most cases the answer to this is that the study may not need all of your RAM to run the calculation.

There are many factors that contribute to the amount of RAM Simulation will use that involve the setup of your study.  Anything from the combination of options you check-boxed  in the study properties, to the constraints you have created in your study may affect your DOF.  We will review three major contributing factors that directly affect the DOF.  To begin with, since Simulation only uses the amount of RAM it needs, the mesh size and order of your mesh in your study is an important factor in determining the amount of RAM the system will utilize.  Having a coarse mesh with the Draft Quality Mesh option turned on (1st order elements) will typically amount to the least RAM usage while having a fine mesh with a high quality mesh (2nd order elements) combination will cause the most RAM being used.  Next, since not all studies use the same kind of elements to mesh your model, element types can play a role in RAM usage.  Solid tetrahedral elements will typically take up the most RAM due to the amount of calculation nodes it utilizes, where as beam elements will use the least amount of RAM.  Shell elements fit somewhere in between the two element types in RAM usage in a typical Simulation.  Most importantly, it boils down to the total number of DOF the element types yield: 3 DOF per node for solid elements and 6 DOF for Shell and Beam elements.

Since the majority of the RAM used in Simulation involves the DOF calculated in the study, there is one more factor that we need to consider.  This is the type of solver the Simulation utilizes.  There are two major solver types utilized in SOLIDWORKS Simulation, Direct Sparse and FFEPlus.  Direct sparse requires much more RAM than the FFEPlus Iterative solver.  It has been documented that the Direct Sparse solver for a linear static study will use about 1 Mb for every 200 DOF while the FFEPlus solver is significantly less demanding at around 1Mb for every 2000 DOF (SOLIDWORKS Knowledge base, S-037675).

After reviewing how RAM is used in Simulation as a best practice it is always better to have more RAM than not enough.  Not enough RAM may result in an “Out-Of-Core Solution” warning message that indicates the amount of RAM currently available is not sufficient to store all the data needed to perform the calculation.  At that point the study will begin to use the Virtual Memory (paging file) on your hard drive to continue the calculation.  This will severely reduce your calculation speed to the data transfer rate of your hard drive.  Having More RAM available on your computer will eliminate the risk of this potential performance bottleneck.

If you do run out of RAM during calculation, in 2014 and future versions of Simulation, there is another solver type available called “Large Problem Direct Sparse” which uses enhanced memory-allocation algorithms for data caching to help calculate simulation problems that exceed the RAM limitations of your computer.  This solver type is only available for Static and Nonlinear studies at the moment but is a good start to have a solution for the calculation of large scale studies that normally would not solve in previous versions of SOLIDWORKS.

 

 

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