Live Parts™ contains an embedded Finite Element Analysis (FEA) engine that may be used to 1) control the growth process of Live Parts to create lightweight and strong geometry, as well as 2) analyze and display the results of linear static analysis based upon the forces and fixtures applied to Live Parts.
There are two options available to users. The first is called FEA for Smoothing. This option is available in the Controls window. When activated, Live Parts uses the fast GPU-based physics engine to control the growth process based on the fixtures, loads, material properties, and safety factor. Upon smoothing of the model, Live Parts will perform one of the following types of analysis: Displacement, Von Mises Stress, Strain Energy. When complete, the results are displayed as colors on the model geometry.
FEA for Smoothing provides a quick way of checking a design when speed is the goal. The fast physics engine makes approximations of strain during the growth process and uses this immediate feedback data to guide the growth and decay of cells. The user may smooth the model periodically and see the effects of the current growth. If the user desired a more robust model, s/he may change the safety factor - raising it to increase the robustness of the model and decreasing it to make the model leaner.
The second option is called FEA for Growth. This option is also available in the Controls window. When activated, the FEA for Smoothing option is also activated. This option activates the FEA engine to be run every 100 Frames, and the results are used to help guide the growth process. The user specifies the type of analysis that the FEA engine should show on the smoothed part via the radio options for Displacement, Von Mises Stress, and Strain Energy. However, when the FEA is run for driving the growth process, the Von Mises Stress results are used to guide the growth.
What is FEA?
FEA is a numerical method used for structural analysis which takes as inputs the material properties, structural information, loading and constraint conditions, and one or more objectives (i.e. limit max stress) and predicts the response of a design across vectors such as stress, displacement and/or strain energy.
Running FEA in Live Parts
- Check the FEA for Smoothing or FEA for Growth box in the Controls Window. Live Parts uses the design in questions in conjunction with the material selected, the forces and fixtures defined during the parameter definition step in the SOLIDWORKS Add-in for running FEA.
- Select either the Displacement, Von Mises Stress, or Strain Energy result type.
- The Displacement result type depicts how much the Live Parts design displaces or deflects when the specified forces (i.e. "loads") are applied. The regions of the design shown in red experience the most displacement while the regions shown in blue experience the least displacement (a corresponding legend is visible in the bottom right corner of the Live Parts user interface).
- The Von Mises Stress result type depicts the stress experienced by the Live Parts designs when the specified forces (i.e. "loads") are applied. These stress results can be used to help predict part performance and durability. The regions of the design shown in red experience the highest stress while the regions shown in blue experience the lowest stress (a corresponding legend is visible in the bottom right corner of the Live Parts user interface). The highest stress shown in the legend is the Yield Stress defined by the material properties divided by the safety factor. If a model falls well below this safe yield point, it will show largely as blue/green. On the other hand, if the model exceeds the safe yield point, it will show patches in orange and red.
- The Strain Energy result type depicts the strain energy experienced by the Live Parts designs. Strain Energy is a quantity of work or potential energy per unit of volume stored in the loaded part. The units are in kilo-Joules / meter^3
- Click Smooth in the Basic Controls Window, and Live Parts will perform the FEA and depict the selected results in the design environment on the smoothed part.
- If FEA for Growth is activated, you will see a pause in the Cell Activity window every 100 Frames. Growth of the model is halted while the FEA is computed. Once the results are complete, the cells in the model are injected with concentrations of FEA related parameter chemicals and this steers the growth according to the specified safety factor.