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Zero-thickness error despite intersecting solid bodies, unsure where I'm going wrong.

Question asked by Sean Clifton on May 28, 2020
Latest reply on May 28, 2020 by Sean Clifton

Hey everyone, I'm working on modeling a cell scaffold and I've hit an error that I'm unable to resolve. I've written a MATLAB code that generates "filament strands" as random xyz coordinate splines (each spline has it's own constant z value), and each set of xyz coordinates are exported as their own .txt file. I'm importing these xyz .txt files into solidworks using a macro that uses each file in sequential order to create a "Curve through xyz points". The macro creates a circular profile sweep along each curve, 700 nm in diameter, to make the filaments seen in the images below. The end goal is to import the scaffold into ANSYS for analysis, which requires that my part doesn't consist of over 100 solid bodies. 



My problem: I cannot merge these filaments into a single solid body. As it stands, every filament is a stand alone solid body. When I try to combine them into a single body, I can usually get through most of them before receiving the error "Unable to create single body that is the sum of the input bodies". When I go through and combine the solid bodies individually I can typically get through 20 to 25 of them before reaching one that causes the error. However, I have no idea what's causing the issue. The model is set up so that the center-line of each filament is 600 nm from the previous filament, that way as they crosshatch over each other they're always intersecting with the filament preceding it and the filament following it. I assume that the geometry error is related to Zero-thickness geometry, but I thought that making sure each filament was intersecting with the surrounding filaments would be enough to avoid the issue.


What I've Tried: I've changed the distance between the center-line of the filaments, higher and lower but always greater than the radius (350 nm) to avoid the filament surfaces from lining up every couple iterations. I also tried to convert them to surfaces instead of solid bodies to no avail. I genuinely don't know where to go from here and I am completely open to any suggestions y'all may have. I'm going to try creating the model at a larger scale, and then shrinking the scale in the mold options. My thought process is that even though the filaments intersect with each other, since the diameter of each filament is so small that having them intersect with a ~0.0001 mm overlap is not enough to convince solidworks that there isn't a zero thickness geometry. Then again, if that was the case then I'm not sure why some of the bodies can be combined currently. I'll attach the model below, but please let me know if it would be helpful to have the macro and MATLAB file. I'll take any help I can get.