From Days to Hours – Rapid Midsurface Meshing and Structural Analysis to Reduce Workflows

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In finite element analysis, solid geometry of thin structures is commonly idealized as 2D midsurfaces and meshes, but the process is highly elaborate and time consuming. In addition, performing a structural analysis via the Finite Element (FE) method is also a long process often requiring numerous functions, inputs and clicks in existing pre/post processors.

This webinar will briefly discuss streamlined methods to expedite the midsurface creation process. A majority of the presentation will be devoted to how MSC Apex can be used rapidly configure midsurface meshes and perform a structural analysis via the FE method. The webinar will also showcase the integration of solid and shell elements via MSC Apex “glue” technology to quickly integrate a “bulky” solid section into an existing midsurface mesh.

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10x Faster Midsurface Modeling and Meshing for Automotive Trim Components

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The process of creating midsurface geometry and finite element meshes of automotive trim components such as head liners, consoles, and door trims can require extracting dozens of planar and curved midsurfaces, adjoining specific free edges, meshing, and more. Unfortunately with existing finite element pre/post processors, the process can require multiple days to complete.

This presentation discusses optimal methods and CAE software available to reduce the time needed to create midsurface models and meshes. The topics discussed can expedite the process up to 10x. A live demonstration will be performed on an automotive interior console and will be used to highlight the time savings gained from implementing the concepts and CAE technology discussed in this presentation. The use of MSC Apex will be highlighted throughout this presentation.

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Midsurface Extraction and Meshing of Thin Structures – 10x faster with MSC Apex

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A common practice for finite element analysis of thin structures involves abstraction of 3D solid geometry into 2D midsurface representations. The midsurface representation is then meshed with 2D elements such as shell, membrane or plate finite elements. While the midsurface method for thin structures has been used for a long time, existing methods and software requires users to devote hours or days to the process. As thin structures grow increasingly complex, i.e. varying thicknesses and steps, multiple stiffening webs, features, etc., analysts are devoting increasingly more time to constructing midsurface models and less time on engineering analysis.

This webinar presents the latest methods for expediting the process of midsurface model creation and meshing. The midsurface methods mentioned in the webinar will be demonstrated live with the use of MSC Apex.

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Midsurface Introduction

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In Finite Element Analysis, structures can be represented with a variety of elements including 0D, 1D, 2D and 3D elements. Thin structures in particular are commonly represented with 2D or surface elements.

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Different dimension elements can be used represent the same geometry. An I-Beam (W Shape) can be idealized as 1D, 2D, or 3D elements.

Surface elements, also called two-dimensional (2D) elements, are used to represent a structure whose thickness is small compared to its other dimensions. Surface elements can model plates, which are flat, or shells, which have single curvature (e.g., cylinder) or double curvature (e.g., sphere). Surface elements can also be used to model sections that are uniform or non-uniform in thickness.

Below are various examples of thin structures and their respective midsurface representations. Click on the thumbnails for a closer look.

Midsurface Creation Process

A common way to produce a surface element mesh is to first create midsurface geometry that represent the midplanes of the thin walls and then mesh the midsurface geometry. For more details on the process, refer to 3 Steps to Create Midsurface Geometry.

midsurface_creation_process_msc_apex

Midsurface Creation Process

 

Midsurface Creation for Beginners

The video below shows fundamental concepts that can get you started in your midsurface extraction, creation, and meshing process.

Rapid Midsurface and FEM Modeling Techniques for Automotive Trim Components

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Many automotive interior trim components such as headliners, door trim, and consoles are characterized as thin structures that can be difficult to model. The process of performing a structural analysis on such trim components via Finite Element Analysis often requires the creation of midsurface geometry and meshes for very complex, curved, variable-thickness sections. Unfortunately with existing finite element pre/post processors, creating the midsurface geometry and mesh can require anywhere from a few hours to days, depending on the complexity of the model, and the limitations of the software being used.

This presentation covers the newest methods and CAE technologies available to expedite the midsurface geometry and meshing process up to ten times faster (10x). An actual midsurface and meshing demonstration will be performed on an automotive headliner and best practices will be discussed to expedite the process. The use of MSC Apex will be highlighted throughout this presentation.

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3 Steps to Create Midsurface Geometry

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The goal of this post is to bring you up to speed on how to create midsurface geometry for finite element analysis. While the process requires numerous actions, each action can be generalized into one of 3 categories. Video explanations complement each section.

1) Extract Midsurfaces

Thin structures will be composed of numerous thin walls. Individual midsurfaces may be extracted manually, but automatic and semi-automatic methods can extract midsurfaces for numerous thin sections. The advantages of each method are given below.

Automatic Midsurface Extraction

This method traditionally works well for designs that have uniform thicknesses or have been through a stamping manufacturing process.

 

Semi-automatic Midsurface Extraction

This method works well for designs that have multiple thickness changes, non-uniform thicknesses and the walls have a large variation of position to one another.

 

Individual Midsurface Extraction

There may be the situation when certain midsurfaces were excluded from the automatic or semi-automatic and must be created manually. In other cases, when the extracted midsurfaces are poor and severely distorted, it is best to delete the midsurfaces and recreate it individually.

2) Free Edges

A free edge is an edge that is not connected to another edge or face. If a continuous mesh is intended at an edge and it happens to be a free edge, it can produce a discontinuous mesh. The goal is to resolve the necessary free edges.

Individually Resolving Free Edges

If it is one edge, closing a gap is as simple as taking a free edge and dragging it to a nearby edge or face. The benefit of this dynamic behavior is that you do not have to created and delete construction geometry each time an edge operation is performed.

Stitching

Suppose the scenario when an edge is already resting on an edge or face. A stitching function can be used to connect the free edge to the edge or face.

Extending Free Edges

After you have extracted numerous midsurfaces, there will be numerous free edges to resolve. Individually moving and closing each free edge is too time consuming. An automatic method can be leveraged to extend the free edges up to nearby edges or faces, and in addition, a simultaneous option to stitch the edges can be used.

 

3) Final Clean Up with Mesh Quality

To confirm the midsurface geometry is suitable, the resulting mesh must have elements that are within satisfactory levels of quality. In other words, nothing in the midsurface geometry should cause poorly distorted elements. With the mesh superimposed on the midsurface geometry, the mesh quality may be viewed and edits can be continuously made without having to delete and recreate the mesh.

FEA, Solving & Post-Processing Assemblies Using MSC Apex Structures

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This presentation discusses best practices for expediting the midsurface geometry process. Specifically, a new semi-automatic or incremental method for creating midsurface geometry will be presented. The concepts mentioned in the presentation will be demonstrated on an injection molded plastic component. The same component required 10 hours to complete with existing pre/post processors, but once the incremental midsurface method is adopted, the process required 1 hour. The MSC Apex incremental midsurface method will be used throughout the live demonstration.

Constructing midsurface geometry and meshes for Finite Element Analysis (FEA) is a process often requiring hours to days to complete. Existing midsurface extraction methods in pre/post processors, while automated, often produce very incomplete midsurface geometry. As a consequence, significantly more time is required before midsurface geometry is completed and meshed.

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10x Faster Midsurface Modeling for Finite Element Analysis of Injection Molded Plastics

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This presentation discusses best practices for expediting the midsurface geometry process. Specifically, a new semi-automatic or incremental method for creating midsurface geometry will be presented. The concepts mentioned in the presentation will be demonstrated on an injection molded plastic component. The same component required 10 hours to complete with existing pre/post processors, but once the incremental midsurface method is adopted, the process required 1 hour. The MSC Apex incremental midsurface method will be used throughout the live demonstration.

Constructing midsurface geometry and meshes for Finite Element Analysis (FEA) is a process often requiring hours to days to complete. Existing midsurface extraction methods in pre/post processors, while automated, often produce very incomplete midsurface geometry. As a consequence, significantly more time is required before midsurface geometry is completed and meshed.

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Reducing the time required to analyze an aircraft avionics door for damage scenarios by 60%

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DEMA SpA is a major aerospace supplier that provides work packages for many major aircraft programs such as the Boeing 787, Airbus A380 and A321, ATR 42-72, Augusta Westland AW139, and Bombardier CS100. DEMA recently designed and built an innovative avionics bay pressurized door for a commuter jet. DEMA engineers developed an innovative design concept in which the door is assembled from sheet metal using a machinable plate that saves weight by eliminating the need for mechanical joints. DEMA needed to analyze the ability of the door to meet in-flight structural requirements in spite of multiple damage scenarios that might be incurred during service operations or could result from manufacturing variation in order to determine whether or not the structure maintains a sufficient safety margin. These damage scenario analyses are used as the basis for inspection protocols that are performed on a regular basis to ensure that the door is flight-ready.

Read the entire case study at this link.

CAD model inside MSC Apex

CAD model inside MSC Apex

Static Simulation for Framework Construction in Power Plant Using MSC Apex

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Many structures in plant engineering are characterized as thinwalled. The Finite Element Method (FEM) is a common method used to assess the performance of such thin structures. Creating a FEM model of a thin structure involves midsurfacing models and meshing with shell elements. However, the process for creating FEM models is time consuming often requiring hours and days. The use of MSC Apex can help produce midsurface models significantly faster than with other traditional CAE pre/post processors. In addition to FEM creation, MSC Apex can be used to perform strength analysis.

Read the entire case study at this link.

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Deformation plot