Physics Fun with Jamie: Setting Up a Pressure Vessel Design Analysis

Article by Jamie Hill, CSWE updated June 15, 2023


Welcome back to “Physics Fun with Jamie”. SOLIDWORKS Finite Element Analysis (FEA) is a useful tool for simulating the performance of pressure vessels. Pressure vessels are critical components used in a wide range of industries, including chemical, petrochemical, and pharmaceutical. Here are some steps to follow when setting up a pressure vessel design study  in SOLIDWORKS FEA.

  1. Define the geometry: Start by defining the geometry of the pressure vessel. The geometry should include all the necessary features, such as the cylindrical or spherical shell, nozzles, and supports.
  2. Apply materials: Assign the appropriate materials to the model. The material properties should be defined accurately to ensure accurate results.
  3. Define the boundary conditions: Define the boundary conditions, including the fixed supports and applied loads. The boundary conditions should be consistent with the intended operating conditions of the pressure vessel.
  4. Create a mesh: 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.
  5. Define the analysis type: Choose the analysis type based on the intended use of the pressure vessel. The analysis type can be static, transient, or dynamic.
  6. Specify the load cases: Specify the load cases, including the internal pressure, thermal expansion, and external loads. The load cases should be consistent with the intended operating conditions of the pressure vessel.
  7. Run the study: Run the pressure vessel design study and review the results. SOLIDWORKS FEA provides graphical representations of the results, including stress and deformation plots.
  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, boundary conditions, and material properties.

In conclusion, setting up a pressure vessel design study in SOLIDWORKS FEA requires careful consideration of the geometry, materials, boundary conditions, analysis type, load cases, and verification of the results. By following these steps, you can ensure that your pressure vessel is designed to meet the required specifications and can operate safely and reliably under the intended conditions.

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Jamie Hill, CSWE

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