Key Shortcut Techniques in SOLIDWORKS Simulation
Save Time on Simulation Setup and Management
After working with and teaching SOLIDWORKS Simulation for over 10 years, I have found that I have a steadily growing list of tips and tricks that I like to share with my Simulation students; the most valuable ones involve shortcuts for setting up and managing their Simulation studies. In this article I will share these with you in hopes that these tips will save you time and make you a more efficient Simulation Analyst.
Setup and Selection
One of the most time-consuming phases of the Simulation study process is the selection and creation of your contacts and other constraints. To help speed up this laborious process, you can use the following tips:
1) Keep Visible "Pushpin"
This button is great for repetitive commands like contacts sets or connectors. Simply enable the “pushpin” and now when you click "OK," the PropertyManager STAYS ACTIVE for your next connection.
2) Selection Sets
When selecting faces for a Simulation study, one may need to select a large set of multiple faces. With SOLIDWORKS selection sets you can package the entire set of faces as an entry in the SOLIDWORKS Design Tree. When you are ready to add your contacts or loads you can simply pick the set of faces form the SOLIDWORKS Design Tree as a group.
To create a selection set, simply CTRL select the set of faces desired then right-click in the graphics area and choose “Create Selection.”
3) The SOLIDWORKS Selection Filter (F5)
You can use the Selection Filter toolbar to specify the selection of certain entities that can be selectable such as points, edges, faces or solid bodies. Use the “F5” shortcut key on your keyboard and the toolbar will appear either anchored to one of the sides of the graphics area or floating out in the space. This is useful for selection in very busy areas of a design.
4) The "Select Other" Utility
The “Select Other” utility, when enabled, will allow you to dig into your model by removing different layers of faces until you have exposed the hidden or target face for your selection. This is useful for selecting hidden entities. To start the utility, make sure you are in an active property manager such as adding a contact or an external load. Right-click over a face you would like hidden and then choose “Select Other” from the right click menu. This will temporarily remove the selected face and allow you to continue to right-click on deeper faces if needed until you have exposed the target or desired face or entity. Once you see your target face, simply left-click on the desired face to add it to your selection set and the utility will close automatically. If convenient, you may also select the desired face from the small “select other” popup window that will appear in the graphics area.
5) The Magnified Selection Tool
Another handy tool for the selection of hard-to-reach entities is the magnified selection tool. Activate the Magnified Selection tool by hitting the “G” key on your keyboard. This will cause a magnifying glass to appear surrounding your mouse cursor. The magnifying glass will follow your cursor and allow you to zoom in and out using your scroll wheel for that smaller segment of your screen saving on your video card resources. Experiment with the CTRL and Shift keys separately on your keyboard in combination with the scroll wheel, click-drag to get a more precise use of the Magnified Selection tool.
6) Right-Mouse Click to Cycle Through the Property Manager Options
Using the following technique, you can skip the mouse movement typical of selecting different boxes and options in a property manager and simply have SOLIDWORKS highlight the next logical box with minimal effort. It will seem like SOLIDWORKS Simulation is driving itself. A repeated right-click will eventually cycle through all your options related to the feature/constraint you are working on and then will allow you to select the “OK” check mark icon to apply the constraint.
The trick to trigger this amazing functionality is to follow the following workflow: Using a contact set constraint as an example, first click on the first face or face set. After it is selected, your mouse cursor will display the following feedback:
Once this mouse feedback is displayed next to your mouse cursor, simply right-click where the cursor is currently positioned and the highlighted section box in the active property manager will move to the next selection set box or option. Once you are done making the second selection of faces or option the mouse feedback will appear again and, depending on the constraint you are working with, will either take you to the next option or eventually to the “OK” button to apply the constraint. Right-click one last time to apply the constraint. Once you get the hang of it this trick, it will greatly increase your speed in applying contacts or any constraint.
Management of Your Simulations and Constraints
Once you have created some different contacts or other constraints and run some results in your Simulation, you will be able to use the following set of tips to maximize other workflows in SOLIDWORKS Simulation.
7) The Design Library for Simulation Contraints
With SOLIDWORKS Simulation, you can create your own library of Simulation features for reuse on other simulation studies.
This can be done by:
- First, accessing and pinning down the Design library in the user interface (1).
- Next create a new folder (2) and give it a suitable name like “Simulation Constraints.” (3)
- Lastly, click and drag the Simulation feature you want to save from your Simulation design feature tree to the panel below the double line (4).
You will be able to rename and save your Simulation feature as a Design Library Simulation Favorite file (*sldsimfvt). Feature types that are supported include virtual connectors such as bolts, springs, pints etc., fixtures, and loads. Experiment with your most used study types and develop your own pallet of most used constraints.
8) Copy Study
The easiest way to create a one-off Simulation study is to copy an existing study and make your study change for comparison. To copy a study in Simulation, right-click on the name of your originating study tab in the lower left-hand corner of the graphics area and chose “Copy Study.”
This will bring up the Copy Study property manager. You will be able to confirm the study to be copied and to specify a configuration to attach the new study to. This is very useful if you are testing for a geometry change.
For some study types, such as static studies, you will be able to specify a target study type as well. This is very convenient if you have created a study but wanted to continue your investigation with another study type such as a nonlinear or a dynamic study.
9) Copy Simulation Contraints from One Study to Another
If you already have a simulation study on a model where all the contacts or fixtures have been verified as working properly, you can click and drag constraints from one simulation study to another within the same file. Simply click and drag the individual constraint from the originating simulation design tree and drop it over the target Simulation tab.
Use the mouse cursor feedback to guide your actions. The cursor will change from the red-slash to the blue arrow when it is ready to be dropped on your target simulation study. You can copy all types of simulation constraints as long as they are supported on the target simulation study. You can also highlight and copy multiple constraints as well as full folders from the originating Simulation Study at the same time.
10) Managing Default Simulation Result Plots and Settings
You can manage the creation of automatic result plots and default settings globally for newly created Simulation studies from the Simulation Options menu. To access the Simulation Options, click on the main Simulation pull-down menu and click Options. You will be able to adjust default settings for both pre and post processing phases of newly created Simulations. The most popular of which are adjusting units, adjusting number formatting, and managing your default plots.
To add a new default plot, locate the Simulation type you would like to manage and right-click on the study type > “Add New Plot.” You will be able to specify from a list of available result plot types supported. You can also delete created default plots in the list via the right-click menu. It is important to realize that most of these settings will be valid for newly created simulations. Simulations made prior to the changes will not be effected.
11) Creating Sensors for Use in SOLIDWORKS Simulation
When interrogating results with SOLIDWORKS Simulation you will often find yourself repeatedly probing or displaying results in similar ways. To help eliminate this repetition you can pre-package some of your interrogation into Simulation Sensors.
Sensors are located from the SOLIDWORKS Design Tree under a folder named “Sensors.” Right-click to add a new sensor and pick “Add Sensor.”
In the Sensors Property Manager, you will be able to specify the sensor type “Simulation Data” and the details of what you would like the sensor to display.
You can turn on the alert capabilities and specify a criterion for the sensor to test for each time the simulation is run. If the criterion for the sensor fails, your Sensor will display a warning along with the appropriate error highlight.
If you are running transient analysis you can also specify “Transient” for the step criterion setting and the sensor will save the data for all steps and compile a graph to be displayed and interrogated. An additional convenience aspect of sensors is that they are NOT study dependent. This means you can create a set of sensors and you can switch between the different simulation tabs so that the results for your sensors can be updated and compared in real-time.