Defining Virtual Bolts for Simulation on 3DEXPERIENCE Platform

Article by Suman Sudhakaren updated May 5, 2023


Connectors allow you to virtually represent bolts, pins, and similar joints. These types of virtual connections save computational resources and can be used when stresses on the joints are not of primary objective in the simulation study. Virtual bolts are enhanced coupling between two or more components or a component to ground. This ability to define bolt connectors exists in structural simulation roles on the 3DEXPERIENCE platform. The bolt definition available in the Linear structural validation app in the Structural Designer role allows you to define a bolt and also replicate the definition to other hole locations.


Once a bolt is defined, the bolt replication can be used to propagate the definition to other holes of the same size as shown below.

virtual bolt options

Advanced behaviors such as plasticity, damage and failure can be also used with virtual bolt.  However, to start off simulation defining simpler behavior, a rigid behavior can be defined instead of advanced deformable type of behavior.  Bolt preload can be included.  The bolt definition can be saved to a template for reusing it at a later time.  The bolt replication allows you to select existing virtual bolt and replicate the definition to other holes of the same size.

advanced behaviors such as bolt replication in 3dexperience

virtual bolt connection

The virtual bolt detection tool allows you to search for holes in all geometries or meshed groups. Once the mechanical features – the holes are detected, the ‘Edit Properties’ option can be used to define virtual bolt for the detected holes.

bolt detection menu in 3dexperience

If there are intermediate layers between the head and nut supports, either a tight fit or standard or no-connection type of coupling can be defined between the bolt and these layers.

When virtual bolts is defined to solid bodies that are idealized as a shell mesh on the midsurface of the original solid, the definitions are usually transferred to the midsurface geometry set. This is intended to preserve model intent in the event of a change to the idealized features. However, it could result in an error if the virtual bolt requires information from the idealization feature.

Output request can be defined for bolt forces prior to running the simulation. Once the simulation is completed, the virtual bolt checker can be used to evaluate the forces acting on each bolt and the calculated factor of safety.

Output request can be defined for bolt

virtual bolt forces

Virtual bolt is one of the many productivity tools in simulation on 3DEXPERIENCE platform to help you speed up simulation and bring product innovation to market at a faster pace.

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Suman Sudhakaren