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Preparing files for FEA

Question asked by Stephane Morvan on Apr 19, 2020
Latest reply on Apr 19, 2020 by Stephane Morvan

So we are planning on running some of our parts through FEA analysis. To minimise the headache with our contractor, we would like to prepare the files as much as possible to retain the best of Solidworks, which is its ability to properly position parts in space.


We have 5 parts (A, B, C, D and E), and 3 different materials (Rigid + 2 other materials) and I am struggling a bit to find the best way of preparing the data so it can be easily positioned within the FEA Software.


C, the central part, has a number of different configurations (think different thicknesses or heights) that we would like to test and rank (as based on FEA output). Essentially, I would like to be able to switch C configuration and have all the part to rebuild accordingly.


Now on to the details:


A and E are Rigid. B, D and C will deform.


B (a screw) is fixing C into A. Since A is Rigid, we are only interested in the part of B sticking out of A and making contact with C (I know this is an approximation, but the screw interface is irrelevant at this point).

Likewise, D (a screw) is fixing C into E. Since E is Rigid, we are only interested in the part of D sticking out of E and making contact with C.


E does not move. We are compressing C with A against E.


Anytime I change the configuration, the part of the screws (B and D) sticking out (of A and E, resp.) is changing (of course, it is never the same).


I am trying to come up with the simplest way possible to generate all the files which are effectively changing across all (C) configurations changes.


For the screws B and D, I need to trim them according to the final arrangement of C relative to A and C relative to E, respectively. 


I can get the assembly to look like what I want just fine. Where I am less certain, is how should I go about trimming / cutting the B and D based on A and E position... I need to basically perform boolean operations between solids in the assembly (think B - A and D - E) but I need to hang on to A and E.


I did these steps manually in the past, and while they can be done for say 2 or 3 configurations, it becomes extremely tedious for 10 (and remember that I also need to rename each exported files according to the configuration etc...).


Anyway, some of you must have gone through this already and I would appreciate any sort of hints that would help in making this as seamless as possible.


I have played around by making a subassembly with A and B, and then using the 'Insert Cavity' feature by subtracting A from B. It works but does not update when I change the configuration of C (which repositions A...). I think the mates connecting A and C are broken as soon as I put them in the subassembly.


TIA, Not sure this is very clear...