Finite Element Analysis (FEA) is a computerized method for predicting how real-world objects will react to forces, vibration, heat, etc. For structural analysis, typical inputs are CAD geometry, material properties, loads and constraints. Typical outputs are deformations, stresses, and reaction forces.

The benefits of FEA are numerous. Done properly, it can reduce weight and cost, improve product performance and shorten the design cycle. However, FEA has the reputation of being difficult to use in the design process on anything other than very simple geometries. The primary issue is meshing. Meshing requires the user to break up the domain into simple shapes called “finite elements” and grade the mesh density in a precise way to capture the solution accurately.

While it is well understood that a low-quality mesh gives a poor result, understanding how to create and validate a good quality mesh is a challenge for most. For real-world geometries, this meshing process is just too complex and solution times are too long to be used on an everyday basis. For this reason, most conventional FEA tools are either limited to single parts with simple shapes or require complex workflows done by dedicated analysts.

An Onshape model of a real-world, complex machined plate with 1200+ faces and 100+ small holes. It’s not practical to solve this with conventional FEA.

Introducing SIMSOLID, a Different Kind of FEA

SIMSOLID, an Onshape Partner, does not have the meshing limitations found in traditional FEA. It is based on new FEA technology that does not use a mesh, but instead applies classes of higher order functions on both a part and a CAD feature basis. SIMSOLID is an adaptive solver that automatically iterates to improve accuracy on both a local and global basis. Best of all, SIMSOLID algorithms are designed specifically to handle large assemblies with complex connections. Assemblies that are not possible to solve with traditional FEA can be quickly analyzed in SIMSOLID.

Simulation is typically used:

  • During the design process – to provide rapid design insight during product idealization and creation.
  • After the design is complete – to validate that the design specifications were met or not.
  • After the product ships – to diagnose product failures.

While structural simulation can be used in all phases of the product lifecycle, its largest benefit is obtained when used early in the design process before any hard manufacturing costs are committed. This is the ideal time to use SIMSOLID, which operates directly on Onshape CAD geometry without simplification. No meshing means that model setup is extremely fast and results are now obtained in seconds to minutes.

Robust, industrial-Grade Analysis Software

SIMSOLID is new technology, but it has been extensively tested and proven on real-world applications. It’s extremely easy to use, fast and accurate – and it can handle both large assemblies and complex, lattice-based, 3D-printed parts.

Here are a few examples:

SIMSOLID large model design studies (courtesy of Serapid)

SIMSOLID bone biomechanics analysis (courtesy of the University of Western Ontario)

Coming Soon to the Onshape Cloud

SIMSOLID is available today in the Onshape App Store as a Connected Desktop Application. It is a lightweight, 33 MB download that runs on a standard Windows desktop. But what if you don’t have access to Microsoft Windows? No problem, we will soon have you covered. Coming this fall is our newest product, SIMSOLID Cloud.

SIMSOLID Cloud is a new Integrated Cloud Application. Available soon in the Onshape App Store, it uses Onshape’s single sign-on and runs completely within an Onshape Document tab. SIMSOLID Cloud has a new browser-based user interface and distributed compute engine, all backed by the complete feature set in desktop SIMSOLID. With SIMSOLID Cloud, you never have to leave the familiar Onshape environment. All modeling, analysis and results visualization are completely embedded.

Take a peek at a few screenshots:

Onshape model

SIMSOLID Cloud - Static Analysis Results

SIMSOLID Cloud - Modal Analysis Results

Want to learn more? SIMSOLID Corporation and Onshape will be co-hosting a live webinar at 1 p.m. (EST) on September 19. Join me and Onshape’s Joe Dunne as we demonstrate new computational methods which allow the solution of large assemblies in seconds to minutes – all without any geometry simplification or meshing. You can register here

SIMSOLID Cloud will be released later this fall. For the latest news and updates, visit us here.