SOLIDWORKS Flow Simulation Mesh – Tools to Evaluate the Mesh Quality

Article by David Arthur, CSWE-S updated May 20, 2024

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Evaluating the SOLIDWORKS Flow Simulation mesh is made easy using the Mesh results tool and Cut Plots. They provide several different parameters and methods to visualize the mesh cells within the computation domain to ensure the model geometry is captured properly. Let’s explore some of those options.

First Steps for Evaluating a SOLIDWORKS Flow Simulation Mesh

Before diving in to solve a Flow Simulation study or applying any local mesh controls, it’s a good idea to review the default Flow Simulation mesh and evaluate how well the geometry is being captured. This is especially important if there are thin slots, curved, or thin-walled geometry that’s not aligned parallel or perpendicular to the default coordinate system. Use the steps below to generate the mesh without starting the solve process.

Flow Simulation Mesh Run Dialog

Run Dialog

  1. Run through the Flow Simulation Setup Wizard to generate the basic study.
  2. Add any material properties, boundary conditions, and goals that might apply.
  3. Before making any mesh adjustments, get an idea of how well the Initial mesh captures the geometry. Click the Run icon to bring up the Run dialog.
  4. Clear the Solve checkbox but leave the Mesh option selected.
  5. Click Run. This will start the flow solver and it will run through the meshing process.
  6. Once meshing is complete, it will take you back to the SOLIDWORKS window and load the results.
  7. You’re now ready to move on and use the Mesh tools to evaluate the mesh.

Checking the number of Cells in SOLIDWORKS Flow Simulation Mesh

It’s a good idea to check the number of cells in a SOLIDWORKS Flow Simulation mesh to get a baseline before performing any refinement. Use the steps below to do this.

  1. With the results loaded, right-mouse click on the Results folder and select Summary.
  2. Take note of the number of Total Cells, Fluid Cells, and Solid Cells. This will be your baseline.

It’s a good idea to pay attention to the number of cells in the mesh because this will play a major role in how long it will take to solve the study. Studies exceeding 1,000,000 total cells will consume significantly more memory and start taking considerably longer to solve. There are some exceptions to this. For instance, if Heat Conduction in Solids is turned off, then the Solid Cells aren’t included in the calculations and therefore won’t directly increase the run time. On the flip side, if radiative heat transfer is included it may take significantly longer to solve due to additional calculations.

Flow Simulation Results Summary

Results Summary

SOLIDWORKS Flow Simulation Mesh Visualization

The SOLIDWORKS Flow Simulation mesh visualization is made easy using the Mesh options tool and Cut Plots. The mesh options tool provides options to view section plots of fluid cells, solid cells, or both. It can color the cells based on the refinement level of the cells, curvature criteria, or tolerance criteria. The Mesh options tool is particularly useful for visualizing the mesh in 3D. It can generate section plots through the mesh showing the fluid mesh around components, the solid mesh cells of the solid geometry, or both. The Channels options can be used to identify locations within a range of channel heights. Cut Plots help visualize Brick Quality and Aspect Ratio.

Mesh options Tool

Mesh Options

The Mesh options tool provides a number of different ways to visualize the SOLIDWORKS Flow Simulation mesh.

Mesh Options Section Plot – In Solid and Fluid

Section views can be used to visualize cells colored based on selected parameters. The mesh can be shown for the solid geometry, fluid geometry, or both.

Mesh Options on Components – Curvature Criteria

Mesh options can be used to visualize the mesh on selected components or on specific faces.

Channels can be used to visualize channel height. This is particularly useful for determining where Advanced Narrow Channel refinement may need to be applied or negated.

Mesh Options – Channels

Cut Plots for Mesh Visualization

Cut Plots can also be used to verify the quality of the mesh. Additional parameters have been added in later releases that allow the user to check Aspect Ratio, Curvature Criteria, Refinement Level, and Brick Quality.

Brick Quality represents the quality of the geometry capturing (0 means that the solid body boundaries are captured with high quality, 1 means medium quality and 2 means low quality).

Cut Plot – Brick Quality

Aspect Ratio is the ratio between the shape of the mesh cell compared to the perfect cube that computational fluid dynamics is written for. Acceptable values depend on where the cell is located. Whenever the cell is stretched or altered there is a chance of losing accuracy. The higher the gradient across the cell the more important the aspect ratio becomes.

Cut Plot – Aspect Ratio

Additional resources:

Flow Simulation Technical Reference – This document is installed with SOLIDWORKS Flow Simulation. It can be opened by going to Help > SOLIDWORKS Simulation > Flow Simulation Technical Reference

SOLIDWORKS Flow Simulation Best Practices

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David Arthur, CSWE-S