When to use 2D Simplification for SOLIDWORKS Thermal Simulation Studies

Article by Mersedeh Zandvakili updated April 16, 2020


Utilizing the 2D simplification method reduces the size of your SOLIDWORKS simulation thermal studies drastically and allows you to use a more refined mesh in order to achieve more accurate results.

Many 3 dimensional problems can be represented in 2D without loosing the accuracy of the simulation. The switch from 3D to 2D leads to a dramatic reduction in solving times.

In order to be able to represent a 3D study with a simplified 2D study, the geometry, the loading, and the fixtures must meet certain requirements.

Three 2D Simplification Scenarios

In SOLIDWORKS Simulation, there are 3 scenarios when you can utilize 2D simplification:

  1. Plane Stress: If your model is experiencing the plane stress condition where the out of plane stresses can be assumed to be zero, you can do a 2D simplification of your study. In most of the plane stress cases, the thickness of the model is significantly smaller than its other dimensions and the loads and fixtures are only applied in the two planar directions.

    2D Simplification for the Plane Stress Case

    2D Simplification for the Plane Stress Case

  2. Plane Strain: When your model is loaded only by in-plane forces and is fixed in the axial direction, usually your model can be represented using a 2D simplification with acceptable loss of accuracy. In this case, strains only occur in the planar direction.

    2D Simplification for the Plane Strain Case

    2D Simplification for the Plane Strain Case

  3. Axi-symmetry: If you can create your 3D structure by revolving its cross section about an axis of revolution, you can usually use this 2D simplification. Please note that you geometry, loads, and fixtures should all by axi-symmetric.

    2D Simplification for the Axi-symmetry Case

    2D Simplification for the Axi-symmetry Case

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Mersedeh Zandvakili

Mersedeh Zandvakili is a SOLIDWORKS Technical Support Applications Expert, based in the Javelin Oakville Head Office.