Making Connections, how Far Downtown Phoenix has Come, and a Podcast Appearance on Business in Arizona

Lots of new content to share out there from PADT on that is published by other people.

Two blog posts in the Phoenix Business Journal went out since the last update:

We meet fellow business people that become part of our network almost every day. At work, at dinner, and at events for our kids. Sometimes we even make connections while being driven to dinner. And those connections can pay off someday. In “Make connections wherever you can, even with your Lyft driver” I explore the impact of our more connected world.

I was at a business dinner, off on some tangent about the types of early-stage capital available in the state when I didn’t hear what my dinner companion said because the train behind him was too loud. Looking over his shoulder, past a crowd of pedestrians, I could see the Phoenix Art Museum was glowing yellow in the sunset behind the train. And then it hit me over the head – Phoenix has a real downtown now. I ponder this change in “Street side pizza, trains, and museums: downtown Phoenix, how far you have come.

We were lucky enough to be asked to participate in this great local podcast for Business in the Phoenix area. Here is the description: Eric Miller, Principal & Co-Owner at PADT, talks about product development and angel investing. PADT is a globally recognized provider of Numerical Simulation, Product Development, and 3D Printing products and services. Links can be found here:

iTunes: https://apple.co/2DE32lv
Google Play: http://bit.ly/2IBrRSF
Stitcher: stitcher.com/s?fid=176919&refid=stpr

Connection Groups and Your Sanity in ANSYS Mechanical

You kids don’t know how good you have it with automatic contact creation in Mechanical.  Back in my day, I’d have to use the contact wizard in MAPDL or show off my mastery of the ESURF command to define contacts between parts.  Sure, there were some macros somewhere on the interwebs that would go through and loop for surfaces within a particular offset, but for the sake of this stereotypical “old-tyme” rant, I didn’t use them (I actually didn’t, I was just TOO good at using ESURF to need anyone else’s help).

Image result for old tyme

Hey, it gets me from point A to B

In Mechanical contact is automatically generated based on a set of rules contained in the ‘Connection Group’ object:

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It might look a little over-whelming, but really the only thing you’ll need to play around with is the ‘Tolerance Type’.  This can either ‘Slider’ or ‘Value’ (or use sheet thickness if you’re working with shells).  What this controls is the face offset value for which Mechanical will automatically build contact.  So in the picture shown above faces that are 5.9939E-3in apart will automatically have contact created.  You can play around with the slider value to change what the tolerance

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As you can see, the smaller the tolerance slider the larger the ‘acceptable’ gap becomes.  If you change the Tolerance Type to be ‘Value’ then you can just directly type in a number.

Typically the default values do a pretty good job automatically defining contact.  However, what happens if you have a large assembly with a lot of thin parts?  Then what you run into is non-sensical contact between parts that don’t actually touch (full disclosure, I actually had to modify the contact settings to have the auto-generated contact do something like this…but I have seen this in other assemblies with very thin/slender parts stacked on top of each other):

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In the image above, we see that contact has been defined between the bolt head and a plate when there is clearly a washer present.  So we can fix this by going in and specifying a value of 0, meaning that only surfaces that are touching will have contact defined.  But now let’s say that some parts of your assembly aren’t touching (maybe it’s bad CAD, maybe it’s a welded assembly, maybe you suppressed parts that weren’t important).

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The brute force way to handle this would be to set the auto-detection value to be 0 and then go back and manually define the missing contacts using the options shown in the image above.  Or, what we could do is modify the auto-contact to be broken up into groups and apply appropriate rules as necessary.  The other benefit to this is if you’re working in large assemblies, you can retain your sanity by having contact generated region by region.   In the words of the original FE-guru, Honest Abe, it’s easier to manage things when they’re logically broken up into chunks.

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Said No One Ever

Sorry…that was bad.  I figured in the new alt-fact world with falsely-attributed quotes to historical leaders, I might as well make something up for the oft-overlooked FE-crowd.

So, how do you go about implementing this?  Easy, first just delete the default connection group (right-mouse-click on it and select delete).  Next, just select a group of bodies and click the ‘Connection Group’ button:

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In the image series above, I selected all the bolts and washers, clicked the connection group, and now I have created a connection group that will only automatically generate contact between the bolts and washers.  I don’t have to worry about contact being generated between the bolt and plate.  Rinse, lather, and repeat the process until you’ve created all the groups you want:

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ALL the Connection Groups!

Now that you have all these connection groups, you can fine-tune the auto-detection rules to meet the ‘needs’ of those individual body groups.  Just zooming in on one of the groups:

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By default, when I generate contact for this group I’ll get two contact pairs:

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While this may work, let’s say I don’t want a single contact pair for the two dome-like structures, but 2.  That way I can just change the behavior on the outer ‘ring’ to be frictionless and force the top to be bonded:

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I modified the auto-detection tolerance to be a user-defined distance (note that when you type in a number and move your mouse over into the graphics window you will see a bulls-eye that indicates the search radius you just defined).  Next, I told the auto-detection not to group any auto-detected contacts together.  The result is I now get 3 contact pairs defined:

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Now I can just modify the auto-generated contacts to have the middle-picture shown in the series above to be frictionless.  I could certainly just manually define the contact regions, but if you have an assembly of dozens/hundreds of parts it’s significantly easier to have Mechanical build up all the contact regions and then you just have to modify individual contact pairs to have the type/behavior/etc you want (bonded, frictionless, symmetric, asymmetric, custom pinball radius, etc).  This is also useful if you have bodies that need to be connected via face-to-edge or edge-to-edge contact (then you can set the appropriate priority as to which, if any of those types should be preserved over others).

So the plus side to doing all of this is that after any kind of geometry update you shouldn’t have much, if any, contact ‘repair’ to do.  All the bodies/rules have already been fine tuned to automatically build what you want/need.  You also know where to look to modify contacts (although using the ‘go to’ functionality makes that pretty easy as well).  That way you can define all these connection groups, leave everything as bonded and do a preliminary solve to ensure things look ‘okay’.  Then go back and start introducing some more reality into the simulation by allowing certain regions to move relative to each other.

The downside to doing your contacts this way is you risk missing an interface because you’re now defining the load path.  To deal with that you can just insert a dummy-modal environment into your project, solve, and check that you don’t have any 0-Hz modes.

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:

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

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To this:

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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.