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.

Node & Element Selection in ANSYS Mechanical: Some Good News and Some Bad News (fixed)… And Some More Good News

ansys-mechanical-selection-f1First, some good news… 

In Workbench R14.5, ANSYS introduced nodal Named Selections, and in R15.0, they have added the ability to create Named Selections of elements. So now you can make groups of nodes or elements just like you can in MAPDL.  You can use these name selections for result plots to show just specific portion of the results. ansys-mechanical-selection-f2

In R15.0, you can right-click on a Name Selection in the tree and hit, “Create Nodal Name Selection”. This creates a Name Selection of all the nodes associated with the particular piece of geometry in the original Named Selection, whether that is a body, surface, edge, or vertex. Highlighting the nodal named selection in the tree will then take you to the Worksheet where you can add rows for limiting the selection of nodes to a location value or some other criteria.

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This is also where you can add a row to “Convert” the “Mesh Node” entity type to “Mesh Element”. The Mesh Element entity type has a criterion choice for how the elements are selected from the nodes.  

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“Any Node” will select all the elements that have any of their nodes in the list of nodes that make up the current named selection.  “All Nodes” will select only those elements that have all of their nodes in the current set. Many of you may already know this, and it is a great new feature, but there is a catch, and that brings us to the telling of the “Bad News”.

The Bad News…

After noticing the generation time of the name selection drastically increase when using the “All Nodes” criteria, I ran a small test case. With just a cube meshed to two different refinement levels, I tracked the generation time for the element name selection using the two different criterion. Here is what I found.

ansys-mechanical-selection-f5

I am not even going to speculate what is different with the “All Nodes” node-checking algorithm, but an increase in element count by a factor of eight caused more than a 13300% increase in generation time. But look at the generation time for the “Any Node” criteria. It stayed right on par for the different mesh sizes.

So, back to the Good News, and the Really Good News…

The Good News is that you can avoid the long generation times, in R15.0, by not using the “All Nodes” criteria. The Really Good news is that when I ran the same test in R16.0, I got 6.0 Sec for the “Any Node” criteria, and 6.3 Seconds for the “All Nodes” criteria. So ANSYS has already fixed the problem in R16.0, which just gives you another reason to upgrade. If you are going to continue using R15.0, then just stay away from the “All Nodes” criteria for the element named Selections. It is much better to use the location based filtering to cut down your nodal selection so that you can use the “Any Node” criteria.  

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10 Useful New Features in ANSYS Mechanical 16.0

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PADT is excited about the plethora of new features in release 16.0 of ANSYS products.  After sorting through the list of new features in Mechanical, here are 10 enhancements that we found to be particularly useful for general applications.


1: Mesh Display Style

This new option in the details view for the mesh branch makes it easy to visualize mesh quality items such as aspect ratio, skewness, element quality, etc.  The default style is body color, but it can be changed in the details to element quality, for example, as shown here:

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Figure 1. A. – Mesh Display Style Set to Element Quality

figure1b

Figure 1. B. – Element Quality Plot After Additional Mesh Settings

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Figure 1. C. – Accessing Display Style in the Mesh Details


2: Image to Clipboard

How many times have you either done a print screen > paste into editing tool > crop or done an image to file to get the plots you need into tools such as Word and PowerPoint?  The new Image to Clipboard menu pick streamlines this process.  Now, just get the image the way you want it in the geometry view, right click, and select Image to Clipboard.  Or just use Ctrl + C.  When you paste, you’ll be pasting the contents of that view window directly.  Here’s what it looks like:

ansys-mechanical-16-f2

Figure 2 – Right Click, Image to Clip Board


3: Beam Contact Formulation

This was a beta feature at 15.0, but if you didn’t get a chance to try it out, it’s now fully supported at 16.0.  The idea here is that instead of the ‘traditional’ bonded contact methods (using the augmented Lagrange or pure penalty formulation) or the Multi-Point Constraint (MPC) bonded option, we now have a new choice of beam contact.  This option utilizes internally-created massless linear beam elements to connect the two sides of a contact interface together.  This can be more efficient than the traditional formulations and can avoid the over constraints that can happen if multiple contact regions utilizing the MPC option end up generating constraint equations that tend to conflict with each other.

ansys-mechanical-16-f3

Figure 3 – Beam Formulation for Bonded Contact


4: Nonlinear Adaptive Region

If you have ever been frustrated by the error message in the Solution Information window that says, “Element xyz … has become highly distorted…”, version 16.0 adds a new tool to our toolbox with the Nonlinear Adaptive Region capability.  This capability is in its infancy stage at 16.0, but in the right circumstances it allows the solution to recover from highly distorted elements by pausing, remeshing, and then continuing.  We plan on publishing more details on this capability soon, but for now please know that it exists and more can learned in the 16.0 Mechanical Help.  There are a lot of restrictions on when it can work, but a big one is that it only works for elements that become overly deformed due to large and nonuniform deformation, meaning not due to unstable materials, numerical instabilities, or structures that are unstable due to buckling effects.

As shown in figure 4. A., a Nonlinear Adaptive Region can be inserted under the Solution branch.  It is scoped to bodies.  Options and controls are set in the details view.

ansys-mechanical-16-f4a

Figure 4. A. – Nonlinear Adaptive Region

If the solver encounters a ‘qualifying event’ that triggers a remesh, the solver output will inform us like this:

 

**** REGENERATE MESH AT SUBSTEP     5 OF LOAD STEP      1 BECAUSE OF
      NONLINEAR ADAPTIVE CRITERIA

 

 

 

 

AmsMesher(ANSYS Mechanical Solver Mesher),Graph based ANSYS Meshing EXtension,v0.96.03b
(c)ANSYS,Inc. v160-20141009
  Platform           :  Windows 7 6.1.7601
  Arguments          :  F:\Program Files\ANSYS Inc\v160\ANSYS\bin\winx64\AnsMechSolverMesh.exe
                     :  -m
                     :  G:\Testing\16.0\_ProjectScratch\Scr692\file_inpRzn_0001.cdb
                     :  –slayers=2
                     :  –silent=0
                     :  –aconcave=15.0000
                     :  –aconvex=15.0000
                     :  –gszratio=1.0000
  Seed elements      :  _RZNDISTEL block

– 17:6:17 2015-2-11

  ===================================================================
  == Mesh quality metrics comparison                                
  ===================================================================
  Element Average    :  ——–Source——–+——–Target——–
  ..Skewness(Volume) :    4.0450e-001             4.1063e-001        
  ..Aspect Ratio     :    2.3411e+000             2.4331e+000        
  Domain Volume      :    8.6109e-003             8.6345e-003        

  Worst Element      :  ——–Source——–+——–Target——–
  ..Skewness(Volume) :    0.8564  (e552     )      0.7487  (e2217    )   
  ..Aspect Ratio     :    4.9731  (e434     )      6.8070  (e2236    )   

  ===================================================================
  == Remeshing result statistics                                    
  ===================================================================
  Domain(s)          :   1      
  Region(s)          :   1      
  Patche(s)          :   7      
  nNode[New]         :   39      
  nElem[New/Eff/Src] :   79 / 92 / 2076      

  Peak memory        :   10 MB

– 17:6:17 2015-2-11
– AmsMesher run completed in 0.225 seconds

  ========================= End Run =================================
  ===================================================================

 **** NEW MESH HAS BEEN CREATED SUCCESSFULLY. CONTINUE TO SOLVE. 

Results item tabular listings will show that a remesh has occurred, as shown in figure 4. B.

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Figure 4. B. – Results Table Indicating a Remesh Occurred in the Nonlinear Adaptive Region

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Figure 4. C. – Before and After Remesh Due to Nonlinear Adaptive Region


5: Thermal Fluid Flow via Thermal ‘Pipes’

This has also been a beta option in prior releases, but nicely, at 16.0 it becomes a production feature.  The idea here is that we can use the ANSYS Mechanical APDL FLUID116 elements in Mechanical, without needing a command object.  These fluid elements have temperature as their degree of freedom in this case, and enable the effects of one dimensional fluid flow.  This means we have a reduced order model for capturing heat transfer due to a fluid moving through some kind of cavity without having to explicitly model that cavity.  The pipe ‘path’ is specified using a line body.

The line body gets defined with a cross section in CAD, and is tagged as a named selection in Mechanical.  This thermal pipe can then interact on appropriate surfaces in your model via a convection load.  Once the convection load is applied on appropriate surfaces in your model, the Fluid Flow option can then be set to Yes, and the line body is specified as the appropriate named selection.  Appropriate BC’s need to be applied to the line body, such as temperature constraints and mass flow rate, as shown in figure 5.

ansys-mechanical-16-f5

Figure 5 – Thermal “Pipe” Line Body at Top, Showing Applied Boundary Conditions


6: Solver Pivot Checking Control

This new option under Analysis Settings > Solver Controls allows you to potentially continue an analysis that has stopped due to pivoting issues, meaning a model that’s not fully constrained or one that is having trouble due to contact pairs not being fully in contact. 

The options are Program Controlled, Warning, Error, and Off.  The Warning setting is the one to use if you want the solver to continue after any pivoting issues have occurred.  The Error setting means that the solver will stop if pivoting issues occur.  The Off setting results in no pivot checking to occur, while Program Controlled, which is the default, means that the solver will decide.

ansys-mechanical-16-f6

Figure 6 – Solver Pivot Checking Controls Under Analysis Settings


7: Contact Result Trackers

This new feature allows you to more closely track contact status data while the solution is running, or after it has completed.  This capability uses the .cnd file that is created during the solution in the solver directory.  It is useful because it gives you more information on the behavior of your contact regions during solution so you can have more confidence that things are progressing well or potentially stop the solution and take corrective action if they are not.  The tracker objects get inserted under the Solution Information branch, as shown in figure 7. A.

ansys-mechanical-16-f7a

Figure 7. A. – Contact Trackers Inserted Under Solution Information

A large variety of quantities can be selected to track, such as Number Contacting, Number Sticking, Gap, Penetration, etc.

ansys-mechanical-16-f7b

Figure 7. B. – Contact Results Tracker Settings in the Details View

Contact results tracker quantities can be viewed in real time during the solution, as shown in figure 7. C.

ansys-mechanical-16-f7c

Figure 7. C. – Contact Results Tracker Showing Gap Decreasing as the Solution Progresses


8: Tree Filtering

For large assemblies or other complex models, there are useful enhancements in how the tree can be filtered, including the ability to create Groups.  Groups can consist of tree entities that are geometry, coordinate systems, connection features, boundary conditions, or even results.  Grouping is accomplished as easily as selecting the desired items in the tree, then right clicking to specify Group, as shown in Figure 8. A.

ansys-mechanical-16-f8a

Figure 8. A. – Grouping Displacements

A new folder in the tree is then created which can be named something useful.  Figure 8. B. shows the displacement boundary condition group (folder) after it was given a name.

ansys-mechanical-16-f8b

Figure 8. B. – Group of Displacement BC’s, Given a Meaningful Name

It’s easy to right click and Ungroup if needed, and there is also a Group Similar Objects option which allows you to select just one item in the tree and easily group all similar items by right clicking.


9: Results Set Listing Enhancements

In addition to the information on remeshing that we mentioned back in useful new feature number 4, there is a new capability to right click in the tabular listing of results and then right click to create total deformation or equivalent stress results.  This capability can make it faster to create a deformation or stress plot for a particular time point or result set of interest.

The procedure to do this is:

  • Left click on the Solution branch in the tree.
  • Left click on the desired Results set in Tabular Data
  • Right click on that results set and select Create Total Deformation Results or Create Equivalent Stress Results, as shown in figure 9.

The result of these steps will be a new result item in the tree, waiting for you to evaluate so you can see the new results plot.

ansys-mechanical-16-f9

Figure 9 – Right Click in Solution Tabular Data to Create Deformation or Equivalent Stress Result Items


10: Explode View

We’ve saved a fun one for last, the new Explode View capability.  This allows you to incrementally ‘explode’ the view of your assemblies, making it potentially easier to visualize the parts and interaction between parts that make up the assembly.  To use this feature, make sure the Explode View Options toolbar is turned on in your View settings.  There are several options for the ‘explosion center’, such as the assembly center or the global or a user defined coordinate system.

ansys-mechanical-16-f10a 

Figure 10. A. – The Explode View Options Toolbar

As you can see in figure 10. A., there is a slider that allows you to control the ‘level’ of view explosion.  Keep in mind this is just a visual tool and does nothing to the coordinates of the parts in your assemblies.

Figures 10. B. and 10. C. show various slider settings for the exploded view of an assembly.

ansys-mechanical-16-f10b

Figure 10. B. – Explode View Level 3

ansys-mechanical-16-f10c

Figure 10. C. – Explode View Level 4


This concludes our tour of 10 useful new features in ANSYS Mechanical 16.0.  We hope you find this information helps you get your ANSYS Mechanical simulations completed more efficiently.  There are lots and lots of other new features that we didn’t mention here.  The Release Notes in the Help covers a lot of them.  We’ll be writing more about some of the things we mentioned here as well as some of the other new features soon.  

Donny Don’t – Remote Objects

Nothing like a good ‘ol fashion Simpson’s reference.  I’m trying to start a new series of articles that address common mistakes and things to avoid, and what better reference than when Bart ‘joined’ the Junior Campers and found out he might get a knife out of the deal. 

6lrWlDO

For this first article, let’s talk about remote objects (force, displacement, points, joints).  First, remote objects are awesome.  Want to add a rotational DOF to your solid-object model?  Remote Displacement.  Want to apply a load and don’t want to worry about force/moment balance?  Remote Force.  Want to apply a load but also constrain a surface?  Remote Point.  Take two points and define a open/locked degrees of freedom and you have a kinematic joint.

The thing to watch out for is how you define these remote points.  ANSYS Mechanical does an amazing job at making a pretty tedious process easy (create pilot node, create constraint-type contact, specify DOFs to include, specify formulation).  In Mechanical, all you need to do is highlight some geometry, right mouse click, and insert the appropriate object (remote point, remote force, etc).  No need to keep track of real constant sets, element tshape’s…easy.  Almost too easy if you ask me.

Once you start creating multiple remote objects, you may see the following:

message1

If you dig into the solver output file you may see this:

image

The complaint is that we have multiple overlapping constraint sets.  Let’s take a step back and see the model I’ve setup:

image

I have a cylinder, attached to a body-to-ground spring on one face, a translational joint applied on the OD, and a remote force and moment applied on the opposite end.  If I follow the instructions shown from the ANSYS Workbench message about graphically displaying FE Connections (select the ‘Solution Information’ item, click the graphics tab):

image

We can see that any type of constraint equation is shown in red.  The issue here is that the nodes on the OD edge on the top and bottom of my cylinder belong to multiple constraint equation sets.  On the bottom my my cylinder those nodes are being constrained to the spring end AND the cylindrical joint.  On the top the nodes on the edge are being constrained to the joint AND remote force.  When you hit solve, ANSYS needs to figure out how to resolve the conflicting constraint sets (a node cannot be a slave term for two different constraint sets).  I don’t know exactly how the solver manages this, but I like to imagine it’s like two people fighting over who gets to keep a dog…and they place the dog in-between them and call for it, and whoever the dog goes to gets to keep it. 

Now for this example, the solver is capable of handling the over-constraint because overall…the model is properly constrained.  The spring can loose some of the edge nodes and still properly connect to the cylinder.  Same goes for the other remote objects (translation joint and remote force/moment).  If we had more objects defined and more overlaps, that’s a different story.  You can introduce a pretty lengthy lag, or outright solver failure, if there are a lot of overconstraint terms in the model. 

So now the question becomes, how do I fix this.  The easiest way is to not fix this and ignore the warning.  If our part behaves properly, we get the reaction forces we’d expect, then odds are the overconstraint terms that are automatically corrected are fine.  If we actually wanted to remove that warning, we would need to make sure we scope remote objects that do not touch other remote objects.  We can do this by going into DesignModeler or SpaceClaim and imprinting the surfaces. 

image

In DM, I just extruded the edges with the operation set to imprint face.  In SpaceClaim you would just need to use the ‘copy edge’ option on the pull command:

image

Now this will modify the topology and will ensure we have a separation of nodes for all of our remote objects:

image

When we solve…no warning message about MPC conflicts:

image

And when we look at the FE connectivity, there are no nodes shared by multiple remote objects:

image 

The last thing I’d like to point out is the application of a force and moment on a remote point:

image

Whenever you have two remote objects operating on the same surface (e.g. a moment and force, force and displacement, etc), you should really be using a remote point.  If I were to create two remote objects:

image

I now come right back to my original problem of conflicting constraints.  These two objects share the exact same nodal set but are creating two independent remote points.  If you want to do this, right-mouse-click on one of your remote objects and select ‘promote to remote point’:

image

Then modify the other remote objects to use that remote point.  No more conflict. 

Very last point…in R16 it will now tell you when you have ‘duplicate’ remote objects  (like the remote force + displacement shown above). 

image

Hope this helps! 

Thermal Submodeling in ANSYS Workbench Mechanical 15.0

thermal-submodeling-18
If you've been following The Focus for a long time, you may recall my prior article about submodeling using ANSYS Mechanical APDL, which was a 'sub' model of a submarine.  The article, from 2006, begins on page 2 at this link:

Also, Eric Miller here at PADT wrote a Focus blog entry on the new-at-14.5 submodeling capability in ANSYS Workbench Mechanical.

Since both of those articles were about structural submodeling, I decided it was time we published a blog entry on how to perform submodeling in ANSYS Mechanical for thermal simulations.

Submodeling is a technique whereby we can obtain more accurate results in a small, detailed portion of a large model without having to build an incredibly refined and detailed finite element model of our complete system.  In short, we map boundary conditions onto a 'chunk' of interest that is a subset of our full model so that we can solve that 'chunk' in more detail.  Typically we mesh the 'chunk' with a much finer mesh than was used in the original model, and sometimes we add more detail such as geometric features that didn't exist in the original model like fillets.

The ANSYS Workbench Project Schematic for a thermal solution involving submodeling looks like this:

thermal-submodeling-1

Figure 1 – Thermal Submodeling Project Schematic

Note that in the project schematic, the links are automatically established when we setup the submodel after completing the analysis on the coarse model as we shall see below.

First, here is the geometry of the coarse model.  It's a simple set of cooling fins.  In this idealized model, no fillets have been modeled between the fins and the block.

thermal-submodeling-2

Figure 2 – Coarse Model Geometry, Idealized without Fillets

The boundary conditions consisted of a heat flux due to a  thermal source on the base face and convection to ambient air on the cooling fin surfaces.  The heat flux was setup to vary over the course of 3 load steps as follows:

Load Step        Heat Flux (BTU/s*in^2)

            1                      0.2

            2                      0.5

            3                      0.005

Thus, the maximum heat going into the system occurs in load step 2, corresponding to 'time' 2.0 in this steady state analysis.

thermal-submodeling-3

Figure 3 – Coarse Model Boundary Conditions – Heat Flux and Convection

The coarse model is meshed with relatively large elements in this case.  The mesh refinement for a production model should be sufficient to adequately capture the fields of interest in the locations of interest.  After solving, the temperature results show a max temperature at the base where the heat flux is applied, transitioning to the minimum temperature on the cooling fins where convection is removing heat.

thermal-submodeling-4

Figure 4 – Coarse Model Mesh and Temperature Results for Load Step 2

Our task now is to calculate the temperature in one of these fins with more accuracy.  We will use a finer mesh and also add fillets between the fin and base.  For this example, I isolated one fin in ANSYS DesignModeler, did some slicing, and added a fillet on either side of the base of the fin of interest.

thermal-submodeling-5

Figure 5 – Fine Model (Submodel) Isolated Fin Geometry and Mesh, Including Fillets at Base

 

ANSYS requires that the submodel lie in the exact geometric position as it would in the coarse model, so it's a good idea to overlay our fine model geometry onto the coarse model to verify the positioning.

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Figure 6 – Submodel and Coarse Model Overlaid

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Figure 7 – Submodel and Coarse Model Overlaid, Showing Addition of Fillet

The next step is to insert the submodel geometry as a stand-alone geometry block in the Project Schematic which already contains the coarse model, as shown in figure 8.  A new Steady-State Thermal analysis is then dragged and dropped onto the geometry block containing the submodel geometry.

thermal-submodeling-8

Figure 8 – Submodel Geometry Added to Project Schematic, New Steady-State Thermal System Dragged and Dropped onto Submodel Geometry

 

Next, we drag and drop the Engineering Data cell from the coarse model to the Engineering Data cell in the submodel block.  This will establish a link so that the material properties will be shared.

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Figure 9 – Drag and Drop Engineering Data from Coarse Model to Submodel

The final needed link is established by dragging and dropping the Solution cell from the coarse model onto the Setup cell in the submodel.  This step causes ANSYS to recognize that we are performing submodeling, and in fact this will cause a Submodeling branch to appear in the outline tree in the Mechanical window for the submodel.

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Figure 10 – Solution Cell Dragged and Dropped from Coarse Model to Submodel Setup Cell

After opening the Mechanical editor for the submodel block, we can see that the Submodeling branch has automatically been added to the tree.

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Figure 11 – Submodeling Branch Automatically Added to Outline Tree

After meshing the submodel I specified that all three load steps should have their temperature data mapped to the submodel from the coarse model.  This was done in the Details view for the Imported Temperature branch, by setting Source Time to All.

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Figure 12 – Set Imported Temperature Source Time to All to Ensure All Loads Steps Are Mapped

Next I selected the four faces that make up the cut boundaries in the submodel and applied those to the geometry selection for Imported Temperature.

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Figure 13 – Cut Boundary Faces Selected for Imported Temperature

 

As mentioned above, the Imported Temperature details were set to read in all load steps by setting Source Time to All.  The Imported Temperature branch can now be right-clicked and the resulting imported temperatures viewed.  I also inserted a Validation branch which we will look at after solving.

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Figure 14 – Setting Source Time to All, Viewing Imported Temperature on Submodel

Any other loads that need to be applied to the submodel are added as well.  For this model, it's convection on the large faces of the fin that are exposed to ambient air.

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Figure 15 – Submodel Convection Load on Fin Exposed Faces

Since there are three load steps in the coarse model and we told ANSYS to map results from all time points, I set the number of steps to three in Analysis Settings, then solved the submodel.  Results are available for all three load steps.

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Figure 16 – Submodel Temperature Results for Step 2 (Highest Heat Flux Value in Coarse Model)

Regarding the Validation item under the Imported Temperature branch, this is probably best added after the solution is done.  In my case I had to clear it and recalculate it.  Validation can display either an absolute or relative (percent difference) plot on the nodes at which loads were imported.  Figure 17 shows the relative difference plot, which maxes out at about 6%.  The validation information as well as mapping techniques are described in the ANSYS Help.

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Figure 17 – Submodel Imported Temperature Validation Plot – Percent Difference on Mapped Nodes

Looking at the coarse model and submodel results side by side, we see good agreement in the calculated temperatures.  The temperature in the fillets shows a nice, smooth gradient.

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Figure 18 – Coarse and Submodel Temperature Results Showing Good Agreement

Hopefully this explanation will be helpful to you if you have a need to perform submodeling in a thermal simulation in ANSYS.  There is a Thermal Submodeling Workflow section in the ANSYS 15.0 Help in the Mechanical User's Guide that you may find helpful as well.

 

 

 

ANSYS Workbench Installations and RedHat 6.6 – Error and Workaround

penguin_shWe were recently alerted by a customer that there is apparently a conflict with ANSYS installations if Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6.6 (RHEL 6.6) is installed. We have confirmed this here at PADT. This effects several versions of ANSYS, including 15.0.7, 14.5, and 14.0. The primary problem seems to be with meshing in the Mechanical or Meshing window.

The windows errors encountered can be: “A software execution error occurred inside the mesher. The process suffered an unhandled exception or ran out of usable memory.” or “an inter-process communication error occurred while communicating with the MESHER module.”

The error message popup can look like this:
th1

or
th2

th3
Note that the Platform Support page on the ANSYS website does not list RHEL 6.6 as supported. RHEL is only supported up through 6.5 for ANSYS 15.0. This is the link to that page on the ANSYS website:

http://www.ansys.com/staticassets/ANSYS/staticassets/support/r150-platform-support-by-application.pdf

That all being said, there is a workaround that should allow you to continue using ANSYS Workbench with RHEL 6.6 if you encounter the error. It involves renaming a directory in the installation path:

In this directory:

/ansys_inc/v150/commonfiles/MainWin/linx64/mw/lib-amd64-linux/

Rename the folder ‘X11’ to ‘Old-X11’

After that change, you should be able to successfully complete meshes, etc,. in ANSYS Workbench. Keep in mind that RHEL 6.6 is not officially supported by ANSYS, Inc. and their recommendation is always to stick with supported levels of operating systems. These are always listed in the ANSYS Help for the particular version you are running as well as at the link shown above.

Since the renamed directory is contained within the ANSYS installation files, it is believed that this will not affect anything else other than ANSYS. Use at your own risk, however. Should you encounter one of more of the errors listed above, we hope this article has provided useful information to keep your ANSYS installations up and running.

ANSYS Workbench Mechanical: The Body Views Features Can Be a Huge Time Saver

ss1The following is a story of discovery. The discovery of an ANSYS feature that has been around since at least ANSYS14! How is that possible you ask? The PADT team members are the ANSYS experts of the Southwest, how could they have missed this! And we would agree with you on the former, but even we overlook some of the most fundamental and helpful features. And you are going to want to store this one away, so copy the link, bookmark the page, or make a mental note with your photographic memory and file it under productivity enhancer.

After all of that hype, what could I possibly be going tell you that is so earth shattering. Well, it’s not really a secret if you read the title but I’ll let you be the judge of this little nugget’s seismic impact. Now, if you’ll indulge me, I’ll set the stage.

A couple of weeks ago, I was compiling a report of an ANSYS Mechanical analysis. One of the report sections required details of the contact definition between each part. I hunkered down to spend what I thought would be a tedious hour of documenting each contact expecting to use a procedure that consisted in some form of isolating the two bodies of interest, capturing screenshots of the two parts in various relation to each other in order to adequately represent the contact context. As I sat looking at the screen creating my plan of attack, I thought to myself, I wish there was an ANSYS feature that would automatically isolate the two connected bodies so that I would not have to go through the finger numbing (or should I say finger cramping) task of “hiding all other bodies” (even though this is one of my other favorite features). As soon as the thought flashed through my mind, my eyes moved up the screen and, above the Mechanical graphics window, I saw it.

Body Views! The star of my post. You will find our elusive capability in the painfully obvious Connections Context Toolbar:

ss2

When I clicked on it, the graphics window transformed from this:

ss3

To this:

ss4

The relevant bodies were isolated into two different views, contact and target. I was elated. My task of manually isolating the bodies and adjusting the views while intermediately capturing the desired screens now turned into a joyful, albeit nerdy, moment of discovery. With some experimenting, I easily found that each view can be adjusted independently, unless of course you would like them all to move together. You can accomplish this by selecting the Sync Views option:ss5

Why this feature is helpful:

  • Use it to easily isolate contact/target body
  • Use it to easily identify missing or over defined contact regions
  • Use it to document contact definition
  • Use it in combination with the filtering and tagging capabilities to more easily parse through a large assembly model

Summary of steps to enable the Body Views feature:

  • Click on the Connections Branch in the Model Tree so that the Connections context toolbar appears

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  • Click Body Views ssa1
  • Select your desired contact region to analyze

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  • Use the two views to evaluate

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  • Use the Sync Views option to force views to move together

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To my chagrin, this option has been available in ANSYS for a few releases at least and I never took note. But the possibility that some of you might have also overlooked this option prompted me to highlight it for you and I hope you find it useful in the future.

Final thought:

If you found this article helpful and are interested in learning about or being reminded of some other excellent ANSYS time saver capabilities, check out the article by Eric Miller on filtering and tagging here.

Continue a Workbench Analysis in ANSYS MAPDL R15

stopsignThis article outlines the steps required to continue a partially solved Workbench based analysis using a Multi-Frame Restart and the MAPDL Batch mode.

In this article you will learn:

  • Some ways to interface between ANSYS Workbench and ANSYS MAPDL
  • How to re-launch a run using a Multi-Frame Restart in ANSYS Batch mode
  • The value of the jobname.abt functionality for Static Structural and Transient Structural analyses

Recently I was working in the ANSYS Workbench interface within the Mechanical application running a Transient Structural analysis. I began my run thinking that my workstation had the necessary resources to complete the analysis in a reasonable amount of time. As the analysis slowly progressed, I began to realize that I needed to make a change and switch to a computer that had more resources. But some of my analysis was already complete and I did not want to lose that progress. In addition, I wanted to be sure that I could monitor the analysis intermediately to ensure that it was advancing as I would like. This meant that however I decided to proceed I needed to make sure that I could still read my results back into Mechanical along with having the capability to restart again from a later point. Here were my options.

1: I could use the Remote Solve Manager (RSM) to continue running my analysis on a compute server machine. Check out this article for more on that.

I did use RSM in part but perhaps you do not have RSM configured or your computer resources are not connected through a network. Then I will show the other option you can use.

2: A Multi-Frame Restart using MADPL in ANSYS Batch mode

Here’s the process:

1. Make note of the current load step and last converged substep that your analysis completed when you hit the Interrupt Solution button
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2. Copy the *.rdb, *.ldhi, *.Rnnn files from the Solver Files Directory on the local machine to the Working Directory on the computing machine
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You can find your Solver Files Directory by right clicking on the Solution Branch in the Model Tree and selecting Open Solver Files Directory:
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3. Write an MAPDL input file with the commands to launch a restart and save it in the Working Directory on the computing machine (save with extension *.inp)

Below is an example of an input that will work well for restarting an analysis, but feel free to adjust it with the understanding that the ANSYS Programming Design Language (APDL) is a sophisticated language with a vast array of capability.
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4. Start the MADPL Product Launcher interface on the computing machine and:
    a: Set Simulation Environment to ANSYS Batch
    b. Navigate to your Working Directory
    c. Set the jobname to the same name as that of the *.rdb file
    d. Browse to the input file you generated in Step 3
    e. Give your output file a descriptive name
    f. Adjust parallel processing and memory settings as desired
    g. Run

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5. Look at the output file to see progress and monitor the run
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6. Write “nonlinear” in a text file and save it as jobname.abt inside the Working Directory to cleanly interrupt the run and generate restart files when desired
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The jobname.abt will appear briefly in the Working Directory

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The output file will read the following:
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Note that the jobname.abt interruption process is the exact process that ANSYS uses in the background when the Interrupt Solution button is pressed interactively in Mechanical
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Read more about the jobname.abt functionality in the Help Documentation links at the end of this article.

7. Copy all newly created files in Working Directory on the computing machine to the Solver Files Directory on the local machine
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8. Back in the Mechanical application, highlight the Solution branch of the model tree, select Tools menu>Read Results Files… and navigate to the Solver Files Directory and read the updated *.rst file
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After you have read in the results file, notice that the restart file generated from the interruption through the jobname.abt process appears as an option within the Mechanical interface under Analysis Settings
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9. Review intermediate results to determine if analysis should continue or if adjustments need to be made

10. Repeat entire process to continue analysis using the new current loadstep and substep

Happy solving!

Here are some useful Help Documentation sections in ANSYS 15 for your reference:

  • Understanding Solving:
    • help/wb_sim/ds_Solving.html
  • Mechanical APDL: Multiframe Restart:
    • help/ans_bas/Hlp_G_BAS3_12.html#BASmultrestmap52199

And, as always, please contact PADT with your questions!

ANSYS Remote Solve Manager (RSM): Answers to Some Frequently Asked Questions

rsm-1For you readers out there that use the ANSYS Remote Solve Manager (RSM) and have had one or all of the below questions, this post might just be for you!

  1. What actually happens after I submit my job to RSM?
  2. Where are the files needed to run the solve go?
  3. How do the files get returned to the client machine, or do they?
  4. What if something goes wrong with my solve or in the RSM file downloading process, is there any hope of recovery?
  5. Are there any recommendations out there for how best to use RSM?

If your question is, how do I setup RSM as a user? You answers are here from a post by Ted Harris. The post today is a deeper dive into RSM.

The answers to questions 1 through 3 above are really only necessary if you would like to know the answer to question 4. My reason for giving you a greater understanding of the RSM process is so that you can do a better job of troubleshooting should your RSM job run into an issue.  Also, please note that this process is specifically for an RSM job submitted for ANSYS Mechanical. I have not tested this yet for a fluid flow run.

What happens when a job gets submitted to RSM?

The following will answer questions 1-3 above.

When a job is run locally (on your machine), ANSYS uses the Solver Files Directory to store and update data. That folder can be found by right clicking on the Solution branch in the Model tree and selecting Open Solver Files Directory.

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The project directory will be opened and you can see all of the existing files stored for your particular solution:
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When a job gets submitted to RSM, the files that are stored in the above folder will be transferred to a series of two temporary directories. One temporary directory on the client side (where you launched the job from) and one temporary directory on the compute server side (where the numbers get crunched).

After you hit solve for a remote solve, you will notice that your project solver directory gets emptied. Those files are transferred to a temporary directory under the _ProjectScratch directory:
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Next, these files get transferred to a temporary directory on the compute server. The files in the _ProjectScratch directory will remain there but the folder will not be updated again until the solve is interrupted or finished.

You can find the location of the compute server temporary directory by looking at the output log in the RSM queueing interface:
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If you navigate to that directory on your compute server, you will see all of the necessary files needed to run. Depending on your IT structure, you may or may not have access to this directory, but it is there.

Here is a graphical overview of the route that your files will experience during the RSM solve process.
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Once your run is completed or you have interrupted it to review intermediate results and your results have been downloaded and transferred to the solver files folder, both of the temporary directories get cleaned up and removed. I have just outlined the basic process that goes on behind the scenes when you have submitted a job to RSM.

What if something goes wrong with my RSM job? Can I recover my data and re-read it into Workbench?

Recently, I ran into a problem with one of my RSM jobs that resulted in me losing all of the data that had been generated during a two day run. The exact cause of this problem I haven’t determined but it did force me to dive into the RSM process and discover what I am sharing with you today. By pin-pointing and understanding what goes on after the job is submitted to RSM, I did determine that it can be possible to recover data, but only under certain circumstances and setup.

First, if you have the “Delete Job Files in Working Directory” box checked in the compute server properties menu accessed from the RSM queue interface (see below) and RSM sees your job as being completed, the answer to the above question is no, you will not be able to recover your data. Essentially, because the compute server is cleaned up and the temporary directory gets deleted, the files are lost.
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To avoid lost data and prepare for such a catastrophe, my recommendation is that you or your IT department, uncheck the “Delete Job Files in Working Directory” box. That way, you have a backup copy of your files stored on the server that you can delete later when you are sure you have all of your files safely transferred to your solver files folder within your project directory structure.

The downside to having this box unchecked is that you have to manually cleanup your server. Your IT department might not like, or even allow you to do this because it could clutter your server if you do not stay on top of things. But, it could be worth the safety net.

As for getting your data back into Workbench, you will need to manually copy the files on the compute server to your solver files folder in your Workbench project directory structure. I explained how to access this folder at the beginning of this post. Once you have copied those files, back in the Mechanical application, with the Solution branch of your model tree highlighted, selects Tools>Read Results Files… (see below graphic), navigate to your solver files directory, select the *.rst file and read it in.

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Once the results file is read in, you should see whatever information is available.

Recommendations

  • Though it is possible to run concurrent RSM jobs from the same project, my recommendation is to only run one RSM job at a time from the same project in order to avoid communication or licensing holdups

  • Unless you are confident that you will not ever need to recover files, consider unchecking the “Delete Job Files in Working Directory” box in the compute server properties menu.

    • Note: if you are not allowed access to your compute server temporary directories, you should probably consult your IT department to get approval for this action.

    • Caution: if you uncheck this box, be sure that you stay on top cleaning up your compute server once you have your files successfully downloaded

  • Depending on your network speed, when your results files get large, >15GB, be prepared to wait for upload and download times. There is likely activity, but you might not be able to “see” it in the progress information on the RSM output feed. Be patient or work outside of RSM using a batch MAPDL process.

  • Avoid hitting the “Interrupt Solution” command more than once. I have not verified this, but I believe this can cause mis-communication between the compute server and local machine temporary directories which can cause RSM to think that there are no files associated with your run to be transferred.

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Default Contact Stiffness Behavior for Bonded Contact

p7It recently came to my attention that the default contact stiffness factor for bonded contact can change based on other contact regions in a model. This applies both to Mechanical as well as Mechanical APDL. If all contacts are bonded, the default contact stiffness factor is 10.0. This means that in our bonded region, the stiffness tending to hold the two sides of contact together is 10 times the underlying stiffness of the underlying solid or shell elements.

However, if there is at least one other contact region that has a type set to anything other than bonded, then the default contact stiffness for ALL contact pairs becomes 1.0. This is the default behavior as documented in the ANSYS Mechanical APDL Help, in section 3.9 of the Contact Technology Guide in the notes for Table 3.1:

“FKN = 10 for bonded. For all other, FKN = 1.0, but if bonded and other contact behavior exists, FKN = 1 for all.”

So, why should we care about this? It’s possible that if you are relying on bonded contact to simulate a connection between one part and another, the resulting stress in those parts could be different in a run with all bonded contact vs. a run with all bonded and one or more contact pairs set to a type other than bonded. The default contact stiffness is now less than it would be if all the contact regions were set to bonded.

This can occur even if the non-bonded contact is in a region of the model that is in no way connected to the bonded region of interest. Simply the presence of any non-bonded contact region results in the contact stiffness factor for all contact pairs to have a default value of 1.0 rather than the 10.0 value you might expect.

Here is an example, consisting of a simple static structural model. In this model, we have an inner column with a disk on top. There are also two blocks supporting a ring. The inner column and disk are completely separate from the blocks and ring, sharing no load path or other interaction. Initially all contact pairs are set to bonded for the contact type. All default settings are used for contact.
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Loading consists of a uniform temperature differential as well as a bearing load on the disk at the top. Both blocks as well as the column have their bases constrained in all degrees of freedom.
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After solving, this is the calculated maximum principal stress distribution in the ring. The max value is 41,382.
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Next, to demonstrate the behavior described above, we changed the contact type for the connection between the column and the disk from bonded to rough, all else remaining the same.
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After solving, we check the stresses in the ring again. The max stress in the ring has dropped from 41,283 to 15,277 as you can see in the figure below. Again, the only change that was made was in a part of the model that was in no way connected to the ring for which we are checking stresses. The change in stress is due solely to a change in contact type setting in a different part of the model. The reason the stress has decreased is that the stiffness of the bonded connection is less by a factor of 10, so the bonded region is a softer connection than it was in the original run.

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So, what do we as analysts need to do in light of this information? A good practice would be to manually specify the contact stiffness factor for all contact pairs. This behavior only crops up when the default values for contact stiffness factor are utilized. We can define these stiffness factors easily in ANSYS Mechanical in the details view for each contact region. Further, we need to always remember that ANSYS as well as other analytical tools are just that – tools. It’s up to us to ensure that the results of interest we are getting are not sensitive to factors we can adjust, such as mesh density, contact stiffness, weak spring stiffness, stabilization factors, etc.

Using Probes to Obtain Contact Forces in ANSYS Mechanical

Recently we have had a few questions on obtaining contact results in ANSYS Mechanical. A lot of contact results can be accessed using the Contact Tool, but to obtain contact forces we use Probes. Since not everyone is familiar with how it’s done, we’ll explain the basics here.

Below is a screen shot of a Mechanical model involving two parts. One part has a load that causes it to be deflected into the other part.

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We are interested in obtaining the total force that is being transmitted across the contact elements as the analysis progresses. Fortunately this is easy to do using Probes in Mechanical.

The first thing we do is click on the Solution branch in the tree so we can see the Probes button in the context toolbar. We then click on the Probe drop down button and select Force Reaction, as shown here:

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Next, we click on the resulting Force Reaction result item under the Solution branch to continue with the configuration. We first change the Location Method from Boundary Condition to Contact Region:

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We then specify the desired contact region for the force calculation from the Contact Region dropdown:

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Note that the coordinate system for force calculation can either be Cartesian or Cylindrical. You can setup a coordinate system wherever you need it, selectable via the Orientation dropdown.

There is also an Extraction dropdown with various options for using the contact elements themselves, the elements underlying the contact elements, or the elements underlying the target elements (target elements themselves have no reaction forces or other results calculated). Care must be taken when using underlying elements to make sure we’re not also calculating forces from other contact regions that are part of the same elements, or from applied loads or constraints. In most cases you will want to use either Contact (Underlying Element) or Target (Underlying Element). If contact is non-symmetric, only one of these will have non zero values.

In this case, the setting Contact (Contact Element) was a choice that gave us appropriate results, based on our contact behavior method of Asymmetric:

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Here are the details including the contact force results:

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This is a close up of the force vs. ‘time’ graphs and table (this was a static structural analysis with a varying pressure load):

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***** SUMMATION OF TOTAL FORCES AND MOMENTS IN THE GLOBAL COORDINATE SYSTEM *****

FX = -0.4640219E-04
FY = -251.1265
FZ = -0.1995618E-06
MX = 62.78195
MY = -0.1096794E-04
MZ = -688.9742
SUMMATION POINT= 0.0000 0.0000 0.0000

We hope this information is useful to you in being able to quickly and easily obtain your contact forces.

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 (manoj@padtinc.com) if you are wondering how to translate this example into your own needs.

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Integrating ANSYS Fluent and Mechanical with Flownex

Component boundaries generated in Flownex are useful in CFD simulation (inlet velocities, pressures, temperatures, mass flow). Generation of fluid and surface temperature distribution results from Flownex can also be useful in many FEA simulations. For this reason the latest release of Flownex SE was enhance to include several levels of integration with ANSYS.  

ANF Import

By simply clicking on an Import ANF icon on the Flownex Ribbon bar users can select the file that they want to import. The user will be requested to select whether the file must be imported as 3D Geometry which conserves the coordinates system or as an isometric drawing.

The user can also select the type of component which should be imported in the Flownex library. Since the import only supports lines and line related items this will typically be a pipe component.

Following a similar procedure, a DXF importer allows users to import files from AutoCAD.

This rapid model construction gives Flownex users the ability to create and simulate networks quicker. With faster model construction, users can easily get to results and spend less time constructing models.

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ANSYS Flow Solver Coupling and Generic Interface

The Flownex library was extended to include components for co-simulation with ANSYS Fluent and ANSYS Mechanical.
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These include a flow solver coupling checks, combined convergence and exchanges data on each iteration, and a generic coupling that can be used for cases when convergence between the two software programs is not necessary.

The general procedure for both the Fluent and Mechanical co-simulation is the same:

  1. By identifying specified named selections, Flownex will replace values in a Fluent journal file or ds.dat file in the case of Mechanical.
  2. From Flownex, Fluent/Mechanical will then be run in batch mode
  3. The ANSYS results are then written into text files that are used inputs into Flownex.
  4. When applicable, specified convergence criteria will be checked and the procedure repeated if necessary.

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Learn More

To learn more about Flownex or how Flownex and ANSYS Mechanical contact PADT at 480.813.4884 or roy.haynie@padtinc.com.  You can also learn more about Flownex at www.flownex.com.

Some Tips on Configuring RSM as a User

rsm1If you’re not familiar with it, RSM is the ANSYS Remote Solve Manager.  In short, it allows you to submit solutions from various ANSYS tools so they can be solved remotely, such as on a compute cluster, remote number cruncher, or perhaps just another computer that isn’t being used very much.  Note that there is no additional licensing or installation is required (other than perhaps ANSYS HPC licensing to take advantage of multiple cores).  RSM is installed automatically when ANSYS is installed; it just needs to be configured to be activated.

According to PC Revive, in version 14.5 and 15.0, there is a nicely documented Setup Wizard that helps with the setup and configuration of RSM on compute servers.  This setup wizard as well as the rest of the RSM documentation in the ANSYS Help does a great job of explaining RSM and what must be done to setup and configure it.  This Focus entry assumes that your crack IT staff has installed RSM on your compute machine(s) and has decided where the Compute Server will be (can be on your local machine or on your ‘number cruncher’ or on a different machine).  So, our focus here is on what needs to be done as a user to send your solutions off to the remote solver using RSM.

As an example, we have RSM 15.0 configured with the Compute Server on a remote computer named cs3a. The first time running RSM, using Start > All Programs > ANSYS 15.0 > Remote Solve Manager > RSM 15.0, we get the window shown here:

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Notice that it only shows our local machine (My Computer) and nothing about the actual remote computer on which we want to solve.

Therefore, we need to add the information on our cluster node which contains the compute server.

To do this, click on Tools > Options.  This is the resulting window.  Notice the Add button at lower left is grayed out:

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What it’s waiting for us to do is type in the name of our desired remote computer, like this:

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Now that a new name has been typed in the Name field, the Add button is active.  After clicking Add, we get this:

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After clicking OK, we will now see that the new remote computer has been added in the RSM window:

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The next step is to set your login password for accessing this computer.  Right click on the new hostname in the RSM window in the tree at left, and select Set Password.

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Then enter your network login and password information in the resulting window:

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If your accounts are fully setup, at this point you can run a test by right clicking on the localhost item in the tree under the remote computer name and selecting Test Server:

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If the test is successful, you will see that the test job completed with a green checkmark on the folder icon in the upper right portion of the RSM window:

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If your login is not configured properly, you will likely get an error like this one shown below.  Notice that the upper right portion now states that the job has failed and there is a red X rather than a green checkmark on the folder icon.  By clicking on the job in the upper right panel, we can see the job log in the lower right panel.  In this case, it says that the login failed due to an incorrect password.

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The fix for the password problem is to ensure that the correct login is being accessed by RSM on the remote computer.  This is done from the RSM window by right clicking on the remote computer name and selecting Accounts.

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If your account and/or password are different on the remote computer than they are on your local machine, you will need to establish an alternate account so that RSM knows to use the correct login on the remote computer.  Right click on your account in the Accounts pane, and select Add Alternate Account:

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Enter your username and password for the remote computer in the resulting window.  Next, we need to associate that login with localhost on the remote computer.  This is down by checking the localhost box in the Compute Servers pane, like this:

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Another problem we have seen is that the user doesn’t have permission for ANSYS to write to the default solve directory on the remote computer.  In that case, the test job log will have an error like this:

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This fix in this case is to establish a solve directory manually, first by creating one on the remote computer, if needed, and second by specifying that RSM use that directory rather than the default.  The second step is accomplished in the RSM window via right clicking on the localhost item for the remote computer, then selecting Properties.  On the General tab, you should be able to change the Working Directory Location to User Specified, then enter the desired directory location as shown in the image below.  If that option is greyed out, either your password for the remote machine has not been entered correctly, or you are not part of the admin group on the remote computer.  In the case of the latter, either your RSM administrator has to do it for you, or you have to be granted the admin access.

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At this point, if the test server runs have completed successfully you should be ready to try a real solution using RSM.  We’ll use Mechanical to show how it’s done.  In the Mechanical editor, click on Tools > Solve Process Settings.  Here we will need to specify the remote computer and queue we’ll be using for the solution.  Click on the Add Remote button:

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In the resulting Rename Solve Process Settings button, type in a name for your remote solve option that makes sense to you.  We called ours RemoteSolve1.  This new option will now show up on the left side of the Solve Process Settings window:

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The next step is to type in the name of the Solve Manager over on the right side.  In our case, the Solve Manager is on computer cs3a.  Any queues that are available to RSM for this Solve Manager will show in the Queue field, after a brief period of time to make the connection.  In our case, the only queue is a local queue on cs3a.

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We are now ready to solve our Mechanical model remotely, using RSM.  Instead of clicking the Solve button in Mechanical, we will click on the drop down arrow to the right of the solve button.  From the dropdown, we select the remote solve option we created, RemoteSolve1:

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Assuming the solution completes with no errors, this job will show up in the RSM window with a status of Finished when it is done.

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The final step in this case is to download the results from the remote computer back to the client machine.  In the Mechanical editor, this is done by right clicking on the Solution branch and selecting Get Results as shown below.  Also note that you can monitor a nonlinear solution via Solution Information.  You’ll just need to right click during solution to have a snapshot of the nonlinear diagnostics brought back from the remote computer.

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We hope this helps with the setup and utilization of RSM from a user perspective.  There are other options and applications for RSM that we didn’t discuss, but hopefully this is useful for those needing to get ‘over the hump’ in using RSM.

Getting to know ANSYS – Rigid Body Dynamics (RBD)

This video is an introduction to ANSYS RBD – an add on module to ANSYS Mechanical for analyzing rigid mechanisms.