Simulation is probably not for amateurs.
Once you have enough instruction and experience in this topic the answer will be self-evident.
In general, the reliability of digital analysis compared to actual case is dependent more on the operator (how the analysis is set up by the user) and interpretation (realistic expectations for finite digital representation of real world infinite set of variables).
What do you want to know - what is the purpose of you simulation? (be very specific)
Purpose: stimulation of gate valve
aim: stress and displacement analysis
When variables for vitual testing is defined, a result is obtained..My question is, how reliable wil it be?
How much formal training do you have with FEA? I think what J. Mather is getting at is that when you have been trained for using FEA software verifying your analysis is part of that training.
In short, it usually means doing things like 1) convergence testing the solution to reach mesh independence, and 2) comparing to analytical solutions or hand calculations. A much larger portion of it is understanding what fixtures and loads correspond to in real life so that at the ground level you are setting up an analysis that actually compares to the situation you wish to test. This can be trained some but also usually comes with experience.
If you were to ask me, "how reliable is SOLIDWORKS Simulation compared to the actual case," on the first day I used it I would say, "I don't know whether I use the software to obtain reliable results" since I don't know how to check my work. 10 years later, same question, I would say, "I use the software to obtain reliable results that compare to their real life counterparts." The software did not, at its core change much in that time (it is still using the same math) but I now have a better understanding of how to use it.
So, in short, the software is accurate within the limit of your ability to use it accurately.
Nithin Thomas wrote:
aim: stress and displacement analysis...
In the linear elastic range or in the non-linear plastic range?
For your application I would recommend checking out some of the blogs at PV-Eng: FEA Stress Analysis – Pressure Vessel Engineering
They are using SOLIDWORKS Simulation for analysis to ASME code of pressure vessels, nozzles, etc and have many great resources published on their findings.
Concerning accuracy of the software there are numerous validation cases and benchmarks accessible through the tutorials:
As others have pointed out accuracy will most likely be limited by proper setup of the analysis rather than the software itself. It should be possible to achieve very high accuracy provided all the physical effects of concern are accounted for correctly and suitable mesh refinement is performed.
Bear in mind also that many testing codes have specific provisions for analysis with FEA outlining the assumptions and inputs necessary.
Depends on how accurately/correctly you set up the simulation to represent the reality as close as possible!
take a look SW nafem benchmarks for accuracy.