Finite Element Model Representations in Structural Simulation Apps on 3DEXPERIENCE platform

Article by Suman Sudhakaran updated March 4, 2024

Article

SIMULIA applications on the 3DEXPERIENCE Platform offer realistic simulation solutions for a wide range of problems. For structural analyses, the finite element analysis program requires users to create a finite element mesh that closely represents the physical product, i.e., an assembly or part being simulated.

Finite Element Model Representations

Finite Element Model Representations

In SOLIDWORKS Simulation, users assign material properties and create the mesh while working through the simulation study tree. When using simulation apps on 3DEXPERIENCE platform, a finite element model representation (FEM Rep) is automatically or manually created. This is required to represent the geometry in the form of finite element mesh.

What is a FEM Rep?

FEM Rep is an object or container that contains the mesh, properties such as solid or shell section definitions, material, and connection definitions.

FEM Rep

FEM Rep

Any number of Finite Element Model Representations can be associated with the physical product, however, only one FEM Rep can be associated with the simulation at a given time.

FEM Reps

FEM Reps

The FEM rep can also be associated with an Abstraction shape that is created for an idealized version of the geometry that does not impact the original geometry. Multiple Finite Element Model Representations can be generated to conduct different simulations where the mesh size or material is varied.

How to create a FEM Rep

To create FEM Rep, you can either double-click the physical product to switch to the structural model creation app or select from the compass. A dialog box with the option to create an empty FEM rep or an automated FEM Rep is presented. Selecting the automated option gives options to initialize the mesh.

Automated FEM

Automated FEM

If you choose to directly create a structural analysis case without using the structural model creation app to set up a FEM Rep, you get the option to generate FEM Rep right within the simulation initialization window.

Create FEM Rep

Create FEM Rep

Selecting any of the initialization methods other than ‘None’ will automatically link the 3D shape representations to the FEM Rep. The linking is important because the parts can be meshed only if the 3D shape is linked to the FEM Rep. Upon initialization using any of the methods except for ‘None’ will also generate and associate a default mesh with parts in an assembly and create solid section properties to be associated with the parts automatically. Of course, you can delete or modify the mesh as required. Material definitions will need to be set by the user for these predefined solid section properties.

This method of initialization only applies to solid geometries and does not apply to shell or wireframe geometry. The benefit of using the ‘None’ method of initialization is that it creates an empty FEM Rep where the user can pick and choose the components to be meshed, and assign mesh parameters and section properties. There is no need to modify or delete automatically generated mesh or section definition when initiating an empty FEM Rep. However, you will have to link the 3DShape to FEM Rep using the feature ‘Contributing Finite element models manager’.

Workflows to create and manage Finite Element Model Representations

There are two workflows available to create and manage Finite Element Model Representations – Mesh of an Assembly and Assembly of Meshes. Mesh of an assembly has properties and meshes for all parts at the global or assembly level. Assembly of Meshes has associated properties and meshes at part level and these are linked to a global FEM Rep. Assembly of meshes is beneficial when working with large complex assemblies containing multiple instances of the same part and mesh settings can be reused to save time.

Finite Element Model Representations can be duplicated or unused ones can be deleted.  When transferring a SOLIDWORKS Simulation study to 3DEXPERIENCE Simulation via the connector, a FEM Rep is automatically created. No matter which type of option you use to create a FEM Rep, these are required to run an analysis using any of the simulation roles on the 3DEXPERIENCE platform.

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Suman Sudhakaran

Suman Sudhakaran is an Applications Solutions Consultant with TriMech