Physics Fun with Jamie: Setting Up a Fatigue Analysis

Article by Jamie Hill, CSWE updated June 6, 2023


Welcome back to “Physics Fun with Jamie”. Fatigue analysis is a crucial aspect of product design, especially for components that will be subjected to cyclic loading. SOLIDWORKS Finite Element Analysis (FEA) offers an easy-to-use tool for setting up fatigue studies. Here are some steps to follow when setting up a fatigue study in SOLIDWORKS FEA.

  1. Define the loading conditions: Start by defining the loading conditions that your product will be subjected to. This can include cyclic loading or repeated loading, and you can specify the amplitude and frequency of the loading.
  2. Create a model: Create a model of your product using SOLIDWORKS CAD software. The model should be fully defined, with all the necessary dimensions and features specified.
  3. Mesh the model: Mesh the model using appropriate mesh size and type. The mesh size should be fine enough to capture the critical regions of the model, but not too fine to increase the computational time.
  4. Apply materials: Assign the appropriate materials to the model. The material properties should be defined accurately to ensure accurate results.
  5. Define fatigue parameters: Define the fatigue parameters, including the stress-life or strain-life method, and the S-N curve. The S-N curve defines the number of cycles to failure at different stress or strain levels. You can choose a standard S-N curve from the SOLIDWORKS material library, or define your own based on test data.
  6. Specify fatigue options: Specify the fatigue options, such as the number of cycles to be analyzed, the maximum allowable stress or strain, and the failure criteria. The failure criteria can be based on the number of cycles to failure or the accumulated damage.
  7. Run the study: Run the fatigue study and review the results. SOLIDWORKS FEA provides graphical representations of the results, including stress and strain plots, S-N curves, and fatigue life predictions.
  8. Verify the results: Verify the results by comparing them to known test data or published results. If the results are not as expected, review the model, loading conditions, and material properties.

In conclusion, setting up a fatigue study in SOLIDWORKS FEA is straightforward when you follow these steps. By defining the loading conditions, creating an accurate model, applying materials, defining fatigue parameters, specifying fatigue options, and verifying the results, you can ensure that your product is designed to withstand cyclic loading and have a long service life.

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Jamie Hill, CSWE

Jamie is a Certified SOLIDWORKS Expert working in the Javelin Oakville, Ontario, Canada office.