One of the best parts about SolidWorks is that you can design just about any product you can imagine. However, it isn’t always clear whether the product will retain its integrity once it’s exposed to the real world. Computer-based design validation, like SolidWorks SimulationXpress, has made it much easier to see how your product handles the stress of everyday wear and tear.
SolidWorks SimulationXpress is free with every seat of SolidWorks and includes a small subset of the features included in the full version of the SolidWorks Simulation products. For SolidWorks users, it’s incredibly helpful to understand the basic functionality of SolidWorks SimulationXpress so you can validate designs virtually before committing resources to the prototyping process.
Why you should use SolidWorks SimulationXpress
Traditionally, engineers have used prototypes to manually test stresses. Prototype manufacturing is effective but expensive and time-consuming. Instead, you can use simulations to validate designs virtually before using resources to create a prototype.
This approach improves product design earlier in the development process and reduces the number of necessary prototypes. Plus, adding simulations into the design workflow prevents you from wasting time creating a part that can’t withstand stresses. This ultimately results in a shorter, less costly design cycle. Plus, SolidWorks SimulationXpress is easy to use and is a great entry point into learning simulation. It’s based on finite element analysis (FEA), which allows you to test your models and see how they’ll behave in real-life situations.
For instructors, SimulationXpress is an effective way to teach simulation and give students a strong introduction to design for manufacturing. The tool allows you to move seamlessly from design to simulation without needing an extensive explanation in between.
When to use SolidWorks SimulationXpress
SolidWorks SimulationXpress is used to perform a linear static study on a part. In other words, you can use it to test stresses on individuals parts but not full assemblies. To ensure you get accurate results in SimulationXpress, the following assumptions must be true:
- The materials must be linear, which means they must obey Hooke’s Law F=-kx. In other words, the material must be able to behave like a spring, in which the amount of force applied to the spring is related to its deflection by a constant value. So, for example, if you triple the force, you also triple the deflection. Most steels and aluminum alloys follow Hooke’s Law. Rubber is a common example of a non-linear material, which is not supported in SimulationXpress.
- Deformations must be small in relation to the part’s overall size. If you can’t tell — or can just barely tell — that a loaded part has deformed, it probably conforms to the small displacement function. If the deformation is obvious, the small assumption theory might break down. If at any point you become concerned that large deformations are impacting your results, you might need to explore the response using full SolidWorks Simulation.
- Loads must be static. This means that the loads don’t change over time and they are applied slowly. Most structural loads can be represented as static loads, such as forces and pressures. Time-dependent loads, such as vibration from shaker tables and engines or drop testing, would require dynamic analysis offered in the more advanced simulation products.
Remember: SimulationXpress has just a small subset of the tools included in the more robust SolidWorks Simulation offerings! For more information on the full suite of simulation tools, visit the SolidWorks website or contact your local SolidWorks reseller.
How to apply fixtures in SolidWorks SimulationXpress
Once you’ve familiarized yourself with the requirements of SimulationXpress, it’s fairly easy to get started! SimulationXpress will guide you through defining fixtures, loads, and materials. Then, it will create a mesh based on a few specifications. Finally, it will run the simulation. SimulationXpress produces results for stress, displacement, deformation, and safety factors directly on the model. This gives visibility to elements of the design that require changes and optimization.
Jump right into learning how to use this tool by watching the video below on applying fixtures, which tell SimulationXpress how a part is held in place or restrained.