In some studies I'm getting maximum von Mises stress values that are much larger in the nodal presentation than in the element presentation For example, the following images are from a linear, static analysis of a rod in a cylindrical hole, modeled in half symmetry. The stress due to a (hidden) rod is being concentrated on an outside (non-reentrant) edge of the part with the hole, looking from below:

Nodal Stress:

Element Stress:

I thought I understood from SW Help and elsewhere that, although element stresses are computed from an average of the 4 Gauss within the (second-order, tetrahedral) element, they are not considered "smoothed." Nodal stresses, on the other hand, are supposed to be smoothed by averaging the element values in all contiguous elements. But an average cannot be larger than any of the terms that go into it!

I started looking at element values because I read that it was a good way to assess the adequacy of the mesh: Too much variability among contiguous elements (as illustrated above) means that the mesh is too coarse. But the comparison above suggests that I'm misunderstanding how nodal stresses are computed and also maybe underestimating the maximum stresses by using element values. Any clarification would be appreciated. -- John Willett

I think you have the definition a little off. This video makes it clearer than I could SolidWorks Simulation - Element Stresses and Nodal Stresses - YouTube . Another thing to look at is that the element stress is close to the nodal stress--a good sign of convergence. I'm not sure what the conditions or goal of your study are, but it's very unlikely that reporting yielding in that small of a volume is going to have any real-world effect (no warranty stated or implied ).