Exporting Isosurface Flow Regions Using SOLIDWORKS Flow Simulation

Article by David Arthur, CSWE-S updated March 22, 2024


We can export Isosurface flow regions from SOLIDWORKS Flow Simulation for use in downstream modeling so we don’t have to have Flow Simulation loaded to see the flow regions.

This may be useful for designing structures that take the flow regions into consideration and/or for presentation purposes. Here is how we can do this.

Isosurface and Flow Trajectories of airflow and pollutants in a street canyon

Isosurface and Flow Trajectories of airflow and pollutants in a street canyon

Why we might use Isosurfaces

An Isosurface is a 3D surface representation of where a parameter is constant within the 3D computational domain. They indicate all the points in space where a parameter is constant using one, or more, continuous surfaces. They can be created from almost any parameters available in SOLIDWORKS Flow Simulation. Here are just a few of the applications.

  • Aerodynamic Analysis: This allows engineers to visualize pressure, velocity, or other fluid properties on surfaces. For example, they can help identify where shock waves might develop during supersonic flight.
  • Thermal management in power plants: They allow engineers to examine temperature distributions. This helps optimize cooling strategies and prevent overheating.
  • Pollutant Dispersion Visualization: They help engineers visualize regions of specific pollutant concentrations. For example, they might be used to visualize nitrogen dioxide (NO2) emissions from car exhaust. They allow engineers and scientists to observe how NO2 disperses along heavily congested city streets in the vicinity of large buildings.

Creating Isosurface flow regions in SOLIDWORKS Flow Simulation

Creating Isosurfaces in Flow Simulation is relatively easy.

  1. After running a Flow Simulation study, right mouse-click on Isosurfaces in Results and select Insert.
  2. Select the Parameter.
  3. Select One by One or Number of Levels.
    1. One by One can plot up to 16 discrete levels in one plot.
    2. Enter a value for Value 1 for the first layer
    3. If a second layer is needed, select the check box for Value 2 and enter a value.
    4. Repeat for up to 16 values
  4. For Appearance, select the parameter to color the Isosurface. It can be colored based on the Isosurface parameter, a fixed color, or any other parameter.
  5. Click Ok.
Isosurface of traffic pollution in a street canyon in Flow Simulation

Isosurface of traffic pollution in a street canyon in Flow Simulation

Exporting the Isosurface as VRML file for import back into SOLIDWORKS

We can now export the Isosurface out to a 3D VRML and reimport back into SOLIDWORKS maintaining the colors and appearance.

  1. Right mouse click on the Isosurface plot and select Save As.
  2. For Type, select VRML. The Save Geometry option only applies to image files so it doesn’t matter whether it is selected or not.
  3. Type in a file name and click Save. It will save the file in the Flow Simulation Results directory. Notice that the file extension is .wrl
  4. If you’re unsure of where the Results directory is located, exit the Save As dialog and right mouse-click on the project name in the Projects Tree up top, and select Open Project Directory. This will open File Explorer looking at the Project Directory.

Importing the Isosurface VRML file back into SOLIDWORKS and overlaying over top of the original geometry.

We can now reimport the wrl file created in step 3 above as a new SOLIDWORKS part and overlay it over top of the original geometry.

  1. Use File>Open and navigate to the Project directory and find the Isosurface .wrl file save out in step 3 above.
  2. Click Options. Select Graphics Body under Import As and click OK.
  3. Click Open and this will import the VRML file and create a SOLIDWORKS part file.
  4. The resulting SOLIDWORKS file can now be inserted into the original assembly. The coordinate system should be the same as the original assembly so aligning the Origin should place it in the correct location. If the original file was a part file, create a new assembly from the part file and insert the imported VRML file into the new assembly aligning the origins.
Isosurface of traffic pollution in a street canyon imported as wrl file.

Isosurface of traffic pollution in a street canyon imported as wrl file

Related Links

Certified SOLIDWORKS Services available from Javelin

Javelin can help you to:

Find Related Content by TAG:

David Arthur, CSWE-S