Video Tips – Two-way connection between Solidworks and ANSYS HFSS

This video will show you how you can set up a two-way connection between Solidworks and ANSYS HFSS so you can modify dimensions as you are iterating through designs from within HFSS itself. This prevents the need for creating several different CAD model iterations within Solidworks and allows a more seamless workflow.  Note that this process also works for the other ANSYS Electromagnetic tools such as ANSYS Maxwell.

Robust Meshing for FEA with ANSYS

Meshing is one of the most important aspects of a simulation process and yet it can be one of the most frustrating and difficult to get right.  Whether you are using CAD based simulation tools or more powerful flagship simulation tools, there are different approaches to take when it comes to meshing complicated assemblies for structural or thermal analysis.

ANSYS has grown into the biggest simulation company globally by acquiring powerful technologies, but more importantly, integrating their capabilities into a single platform.  This is true for meshing as well.  Many of ANSYS’ acquisitions have come with several strong meshing capabilities and functionalities and ANSYS Workbench integrates all of that into what we call Workbench Meshing.  It is a single meshing tool that incorporates a variety of global and local mesh operations to ensure that the user not only gets a mesh, but gets a good quality mesh without needing to spend a lot of time in the prep process. We’ll take a look at a couple examples here.



This is a Tractor Axle assembly that has 58 parts including bolts, gaskets and flanges.  The primary pieces of the assembly also has several holes and other curved surfaces.  Taking this model into Workbench Meshing yielded a good mesh even with default settings. From here by simply adding a few sizing controls and mesh methods we quickly get a mesh that is excellent for structural analysis.

Tractor Axle Geometry

Tractor Axle Default Mesh

Tractor Axle Refined Mesh



The assembly below, which is a model from Grabcad of a riveting machine, was taken directly into Workbench Meshing and a mesh was created with no user input. As you can see the model has 5,282 parts of varying sizes, shapes and complexity.  Again without needing to make any adjustments, Workbench Meshing is able to mesh this entire geometry with 6.6 million elements in only a few minutes on a laptop.

Riveting Machine

Riveting Machine

Riveting Machine Default Mesh

Riveting Machine Default Mesh


The summary of the meshing cases are shown below:

Case # of Parts User Operations # of Elements # of Nodes Time [s]
Tractor Axle 58 0 415,735 723,849 34
Tractor Axle Refined 58 5 Body Sizings

2 Local Mesh Methods

930,406 1,609,703 43
Riveting Machine 5,282 0 2,481,275 6,670,385 790


Characteristics of a robust meshing utility are:

  • Easy to use with enough power under the hood
  • Able to handle complex geometry and/or large number of parts
  • Quick and easy user specified mesh operations
  • Fast meshing time

ANSYS Meshing checks all of these boxes completely.  It has a lot of power under the hood to handle large and/or complex geometry but makes it simple and easy for users to create a strong quality mesh for FEA analysis.

Here is the link to download the geometry used in this model

If you would like a more detailed step-by-step explanation of this process, check out the video below!

If you have any questions feel free to reach out to me at


Credit to Manoj Abraham from Grabcad for Riveting Machine Model. And no I didn’t choose this model just because he shared my name

Combining ANSYS Simulation with HPC

Engineering simulation has become much more prevalent in engineering organizations than it was even 5 years ago.  Commercial tools have gotten significantly easier to use whether you are looking at tools embedded within CAD programs or the standalone flagship analysis tools.  The driving force behind these changes are to ultimately let engineers and companies understand their design quicker with more fidelity than before.

Engineering simulation is one of those cliché items where everyone says “We want more!”  Engineers want to analyze bigger problems, more complex problems and even do large scale design of experiments with hundreds of design variations – and they want these results instantaneously.   They want to be able to quickly understand their designs and design trends and be able to make changes accordingly so then can get their products optimized and to the market quicker.

ANSYS, Inc. spends a significant amount of R&D in helping customers get their results quicker and a large component of that development is High Performance Computing, or HPC.  This technology allows engineers to solve their structural, fluid and/or electromagnetic analyses across multiple processors and even across multiple computing machines.  Engineers can leverage HPC on laptops, workstations, clusters and even full data centers.

PADT is fortunate to be working with Nimbix, a High Performance Computing Platform that easily allowed us to quickly iterate through different models with various cores specified.  It was seamless, easy to use, and FAST!

Let’s take a look at four problems: Rubber Seal FEA, Large Tractor Axle Model, Quadrocopter CFD model and a Large Exhaust CFD model.  These problems cover a nice spectrum of analysis size and complexity. The CAD files are included in the link below.

Click here to download geometry files that were used in the following benchmarks


This model has several parts all with contact defined and has 51 bolts that have pretension defined.  A very large but not overly complex FEA problem.  As you can see from the results, even by utilizing 8 cores you can triple your analysis throughput for a work day.  This leads to more designs being analyzed and validated which gives engineers the results they need quicker.


  • 58 Parts
  • 51 x Bolts with Pretension
  • Gaskets
  • 928K Elements, 1.6M Nodes


Elapsed Time

Estimated Models Per 8 [hours]










16 4,009




The rubber seal is actually a relatively small size problem, but quite complex.  Not only does it need full hyperelastic material properties defined with large strain effects included, it also includes a leakage test.  This will pressurize any exposed areas of the seal.  This will of course cause some deformation which will lead to more leaked surfaces and so on.  It basically because a pressure advancing solution.

From the results, again you can see the number of models that can be analyzed in the same time frame is signifcantly more.  This model was already under an hour, even with the large nonlinearity, and with HPC it was down to less than half an hour.


  • 6 Parts
  • Mooney Rivlin Hyperelastic Material
  • Seal Leakage with Advancing Pressure Load
  • Frictional Contact
  • Large Deformation
  • 42K Elements, 58K Nodes


Elapsed Time
Estimated Models Per 8 [hours]







8 1,795




The drone model is a half symmetry model that includes 2 rotating domains to account for the propellers.  This was ran as a steady state simulation using ANSYS Fluent.  Simply utilizing 8 cores will let you solve 3 designs versus 1.


  • Multiple Rotating Domains
  • 2M Elements, 1.4M Nodes


Elapsed Time










8 0.7




The exhaust model is a huge model with 33 million elements with several complicated flow passages and turbulence.  This is a model that would take over a week to run using 1 core but with HPC on a decent workstation you can get that down to 1 day.  Leveraging more HPC hardware resources such as a cluster or using a cloud computing platform like Nimbix will see that drop to 3 hours.  Imagine getting results that used to take over 1 week that now will only take a few hours.  You’ll notice that this model scaled linearly up to 128 cores.  In many CFD simulations the more hardware resources and HPC technology you throw at it, the faster it will run.


  • K-omega SST Turbulence
  • Multi-Domain
  • 33M Elements, 7M Nodes


Elapsed Time













128 3.3


As seen from the results leveraging HPC technology can be hugely advantageous.  Many simulation tools out there do not fully leverage solving on multiple computing machines or even multiple cores.  ANSYS does and the value is easily a given.  HPC makes large complex simulation more practical as a part of the design process timeline.  It allows for greater throughput of design investigations leading to better fidelity and more information to the engineer to develop an optimized part quicker.

If you’re interested in learning more about how ANSYS leverages HPC or if you’d like to know more about NIMIBX, the cloud computing platform that PADT leverages, please reach out to me at


License Usage and Reporting with ANSYS License Manager Release 18.0

Remember the good old days of having to peruse through hundreds and thousands of lines of text in multiple files to see ANSYS license usage information?  Trying to hit Ctrl+F and search for license names.  Well those days were only about a couple months ago and they are over…well for the most part.

With the ANSYS License Manager Release 18.0, we have some pretty nifty built in license reporting tools that help to extract information from the log files so the administrator can see anything from current license usage to peak usage and even any license denials that occur.  Let’s take a look at how to do this:

First thing is to open up the License Management Center:

  • In Windows you can find this by going to Start>Programs>ANSYS Inc License Manager>ANSYS License Management Center
  • On Linux you can find this in the ansys directory /ansys_inc/shared_files/licensing/start_lmcenter

This will open up your License Manager in your default browser as shown below.   For the reporting just take a look at the Reporting Section.  We’ll cover each of these 4 options below.

License Management Center at Release 18.0

License Reporting Options




As the title says, this is where you’ll go to see a breakdown of the current license usage.  What is great is that you can see all the licenses that you have on the server, how many licenses of each are being used and who is using them (through the color of the bars).  Please note that PADT has access to several ANSYS Licenses.  Your list will only include the licenses available for use on your server.

Scrolling page that shows Current License Usage and Color Coded Usernames

You can also click on Show Tabular Data to see a table view that you can then export to excel if you wanted to do your own manipulation of the data.

Tabular Data of Current License Usage – easy to export





In this section you will be able to not only isolate the license usage to a specific time period, you can also filter by license type as well.  You can use the first drop down to define a time range, whether that is the previous 1 month, 1 year, all available or even your own custom time range

Isolate License Usage to Specific Time Period

Once you hit Generate you will be able to then isolate by license name as shown below.  I’ve outlined some examples below as well.  The axis on the left shows number of licenses used.

Filter Time History by License Name

1 month history of ANSYS Mechanical Enterprise

 1 month history of ANSYS CFD

Custom Date Range history of ANSYS SpaceClaim Direct Modeler





This section will allow you to see what the peak usage of a particular license during a particular time period and filter it based on data range.  First step is to isolate to a date range as before, for example 1 month.  Then you can select which month you want to look at data for.

Selecting specific month to look at Peak License Usage

Then you can isolate the data to whether or not you want to look at an operational period of 24/7, Monday to Friday 24/5 or even Monday to Friday 9am-5pm.  This way you can isolate license usage between every day of the week, working week or normal working hours in a week. Again, axis on left shows number of licenses.

Isolating data to 24/7, Weekdays or Weekday Working Hours

 Peak License Usage in March 2017 of ANSYS Mechanical Enterprise (24/7)

Peak License Usage in February 2017 of ANSYS CFD (Weekdays Only)




If any of the users who are accessing the License Manager get license denials due to insufficient licenses or for any other reason, this will be displayed in this section.  Since PADT rarely, if ever, gets License Denials, this section is blank for us.  The procedure is identical to the above sections – it involves isolating the data to a time period and filtering the data to your interested quantities.

Isolate data with Time Period as other sections



Although these 4 options doesn’t include every conceivable filtering method, this should allow managers and administrators to filter through the license usage in many different ways without needing to manually go through all the log files.   This is a very convenient and easy set of options to extract the information.

Please let us know if you have any questions on this or anything else with ANSYS.

Importing Material Properties from Solidworks into ANSYS Mechanical…Finally!

Finally! One of the most common questions we get from our customers who use Solidworks is “Why can’t I transfer my materials from Solidworks? I have to type in the values all over again every time.”  Unfortunately, until now, ANSYS has not been able to access the Solidworks material library to access that information.

There is great news with ANSYS 18.  ANSYS is now able to import the material properties from Solidworks and use them in an analysis within Workbench.  Let’s see how it works.

I have a Solidworks assembly that I downloaded from Grabcad.  The creator had pre-defined all the materials for this model as you can see below.

Once you bring in the geometry into Workbench, just ensure that the Material Properties item is checked under the Geometry cell’s properties.  If you don’t see the panel, just right-click on the geometry cell and click on Properties.

Once you are in ANSYS Mechanical, for example you will see that the parts are already pre-defined with the material specified in Solidworks .

The trick now is to find out where this material is getting stored. If we go to Engineering Data, the only thing we will see is Structural Steel. However when we go to Engineering Data Sources that is where we see a new material library called CADMaterials.  That will show you a list of all the materials and their properties that were imported from a CAD tool such as Solidworks, Creo, NX, etc.

You can of course copy the material and store it for future use in ANSYS like any other material.  This will save you from having to manually define all the materials for a part or assembly from scratch within ANSYS.

Please let us know if you have any questions and we’ll be happy to answer them for you.

Video Tips: Node and Element IDs in ANSYS Mechanical

This is a common question that we get, particularly those coming from APDL – how to get nodal and element IDs exposed in ANSYS Mechanical. Whether that’s for troubleshooting or information gathering, it was not available before. This video shows how an ANSYS developed extension accomplishes that pretty easily.

The extension can be found by downloading “FE Info XX” for the version XX of ANSYS you are using at…

Fluid Volume Extraction for CFD

If you have used or are using CFD tools like ANSYS Fluent or ANSYS CFX, then you already know how much of a pain extracting the fluid volume can be from a CAD model.  Whether the extraction fails because of geometry issues, or if you’ve forgotten to create capping surfaces for all your openings it can be quite frustrating when you get the “non-manifold body” error.

We’ve done it the same way for a long time – create some super solid and do a Boolean subtract or try to close everything off and try to use a cavity function to fill in the model.  Both can have headache inducing issues.

CLICK HERE for a PDF that shows how ANSYS SpaceClaim uses a different approach which can make the fluid volume extraction much easier for engineers.

CLICK HERE for a video demo of this as well


Thermo-Mechanical Reliability of PCBs

PCB designers know that it is critical to design a board for temperature rise, thermal expansion and external structural loads. The difficulty has always been to capture a board’s structural makeup accurately without having an impractical effect on solve time.

CLICK HERE for a PDF that shows how ANSYS solves this challenge in a unique straightforward and effective manner.  And as always feel free to reach out to us at if you have any questions.


An Eye for the Win! – Signal Integrity with ANSYS

DDRComparisonIn today’s world of high speed communication we are continuously pushing the envelope in data throughput and reliability – There are many challenges that restrict speedy progress: Time – Spinning multiple boards to find and fix problems costs valuable time and money; Cost – additional test procedures can significantly add to this cost; Scalability of Solutions – it’s fundamentally difficult to accurately predict what might happen solely through previous experiences; which is often why multiple spins are required.

ANSYS has the simulation platform that enable signal integrity engineers to predict and improve the performance of high speed communication channels before any board is prototyped – Imagine being able get the design right the first time by testing several design parameters such as different trace routing, power profiles and components.

This sounds like a great proposition but in actuality what do you get from doing that? The answer is a reduced design cost, detailed insight into the design and a reduced time to market. The only way to obtain this “full picture” is to understand the electrical, thermal and mechanical aspects of the design.

EyediagramEye Diagram of Data Signal Obtained in ANSYS

A critical characterization in high speed communication channel design is the Eye diagram. Extensive testing is done to obtain Eye diagrams for various signal nets across a PCB or Package – ANSYS can provide the Eye diagram so that engineers can address potential failures and weaknesses in their design before it is sent out for prototyping. Bathtub curves, effects of jitter and identifying crosstalk are equally important in the design of communication channels and all can be obtained and considered with ANSYS tools.

ANSYS supports IBIS-AMI modeling, SERDES design, TDR measurement and Statistical Eye analysis among much more. With chip, memory and board manufacturers all utilizing ANSYS products it is easy to incorporate and analyze real world product performance of the entire PCB.

TDRTDR Measurement Across Net

ANSYS allows all aspects of the design to be tested and optimized before prototyping. Apart from signal integrity ANSYS tools can also accurately model power integrity concerns such as decoupling capacitor optimization, thermal response and structural issues, as well as cooling solutions for chips, packages, PCBs and full electronic systems. With the ability to analyze and help optimize different design characteristics of a PCB, ANSYS can provide engineers with “the full picture” to help reduce cost and time to market, and to understand the design’s expected real world operation.


Top: Voltage Drop; Middle: PCB Warpage;
Bottom: Cooling Flow Through Enclosure

The “Eye” is only a phone call away.

Please give us a call at 1-800-293-PADT or reach out to me directly at for more information.

Video Tips: Fluid Volume Extraction

This video shows a really quick and easy way to extract a fluid domain from a structural model without having to do any Boolean subtract operations.

Video Tips: Topology Optimization with ANSYS and GENESIS

This video will show you how you can optimize a part using Topology Optimization with GENESIS through ANSYS Mechanical with support from ANSYS SpaceClaim

Video Tips: Trace Import Extension for Analyzing PCBs in ANSYS Mechanical

As we know trying to resolve the traces, vias and copper pads on a PCB in an FEA tool is practically unfeasible. 

This video will show the Trace Import Extension, which will fill in the gap between having to perform lumped-material analyses and having to try and resolve/mesh all the tiny features….and it does so in a pretty neat way.

Getting to know ANSYS – SIwave

This video is an introduction to ANSYS SIwave – an analysis tool for Integrated Circuits and PCBs

Video Tips: Create and Display Custom Units in ANSYS CFD-Post

By: Susanna Young

ANSYS CFD-Post is a powerful tool capable of post-processing results from multiple ANSYS tools including FLUENT, CFX, and Icepak. There are almost endless customizable options in ANSYS CFD-Post. This is a short video demonstrating how to create and display a set of custom units within the tool. Stay tuned for additional videos on tips for more effective post-processing in ANSYS CFD-Post.

Video Tips: Using ACT to change Default Settings in ANSYS Mechanical

A short video showing how ACT (ANSYS Customization Toolkit) can be used to change Default Settings for analyses done in ANSYS Mechanical.  This is a very small subset of the capabilities that ACT can provide.  Stay tuned for other videos showing further customization examples.

The example .xml and python file is located below.  Please bear in mind that to use these “scripted” ACT extension files you will need to have an ACT license.  Compiled versions of extensions don’t require any licenses to use.  Please send me an email ( if you are wondering how to translate this example into your own needs.