Beam Element Improvement in SOLIDWORKS Simulation

Article by Wayne Chen, CSWP updated March 5, 2012


There are some improvements I would like to talk about for beam element in SolidWorks 2012.

Let’s use the particle separator model as example.  The machine has solid and shell elements.  The majority of the structure has beam elements.  At the bottom, 4 plates are meshed as solids.

The first improvement is that the torsional constants are calculated automatically in the beam properties.  No need to do hand calcs and input them manually.

The second improvement is when the mesh is displayed for beam elements, SW can render the cross section shape (beam geometry) in the graphical area, instead of using the default hollow round tube shape.  This will make the mesh look more realistic.  To do so, right click on the mesh folder, and select “render beam profile”.

At the end of the beam element, if it is bonded to shell or solid, the cross section shape is imprinted on the surface of shell or solid, which has more accurate bonding condition.  One limitation here is that if the solid or shell face is bonded to the side of the beam instead of the end joints, the mesh imprint won’t be transferred to the surface.

When showing the beam result plot, beam profile can be also rendered.  To enable, right click on the plot and select “edit definition”.  In the properties, there is a checkbox called “render beam profile”.

The rendered shape is visually more realistic, but not perfect.  For example, if multiple beams are joined together with end treatments, the mesh and the result plots won’t display the same as model.  When the beam mesh is generated, the end treatment information is already lost.  All the rendered beams are from the mesh.  The shapes are not the true representation of the model, but they are still correctly bonded.

There is still some possible improvement for the future, but as of now, beam elements in 2012 is already better than SolidWorks 2011.

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Wayne Chen, CSWP