Efficient Engineering Data, Part 2: Setting Default Materials and Assignments aka No, You’re Not Stuck with Structural Steel for the Rest of Your Life

Longer ago than I care to admit, I wrote an article about creating and using your own material libraries in Workbench. This is the long awaited follow-up, which concerns setting the default Engineering Data materials and default material assignments in Mechanical and other analysis editors.

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Part of the reason it’s taken me this long is that I moved to New Mexico to help staff PADT’s new office there, and to shadow Walter White. It has been a hectic, exhausting endeavor but I’m here and I’m finally settled in. If you’re in New Mexico and are interested in ANSYS, engineering services, product development, or rapid prototyping (e.g. 3D printing), please feel free to contact me.

In order to make the best use of the procedures here, you will probably want to know how to create your own material libraries. Part 1 describes how to do this. This will also work with the material libraries that come with the ANSYS installation, though.

Pick Favorites

The first step is to get into Engineering Data and expose the material libraries by clicking on the book stack button ( image ). Then, drag the materials of your choice from the appropriate library(ies) to the Favorites Data Source. These can include materials you want to have available in Mechanical by default as well as materials that you would like to consolidate into a single location for quick access. At this point, the default material availability and assignments have not been altered. These will be handled in the next couple of steps.

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Drag and Drop Materials to Favorites

Set Default Material Availability

To specify which materials will be immediately available for assignment in future analyses, go to the Favorites Data Source and check all applicable materials in column D. Though not assigned to the immediate set of engineering data, these will be on the default list of available materials in subsequent analyses, i.e. when you create a new analysis in the same project schematic or when you exit and reopen Workbench.

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Check to Add to Default List of Available Materials

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Materials Immediately Available Inside Mechanical

Set Default Material Assignment

Now our most commonly used materials are immediately available in our analysis editor. But Structural Steel still lingers. In many, if not most, cases, we would prefer our default assignment to be something else.

The fix is easy. Once again, go to the Favorites Data Source, right click the material you wish to have as your default material, and select Default Solid Material (and if you’re doing Emag or CFD, you can set your default fluid or field material with the right-click menu too). Your default solid material will now replace Structural Steel in subsequent analyses.

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Example: Aluminum 6061-T651 Set as Default Material Assignment

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Becomes Default Material Assignment in Analysis

Note that you can stop at any step in this process. If you want to consolidate favorite materials, but don’t want to have them immediately in your analysis editor, you can do that. If you want a default list of materials to select from without specifying a default material assignment, you can do that too. More than likely, though, you’ll want to do all three.

Efficient Engineering Data, Part 1: Creating and Importing Material Properties in Workbench

Note: This is part 1 of a two-part series in Engineering Data customization and default settings. This article essentially serves as a foundation for my next one, which will cover how to set up default material choices and assignments in Workbench.

As you’ve probably noticed, the Workbench installation comes with an extensive set of material libraries. If you haven’t noticed, then open a Workbench session, go into Engineering Data, and click that button on the upper right that looks like a stack of books: image

Click on one of the libraries, say, General Materials, and take a look at the selection of materials.

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So you see things like Stainless Steel, Aluminum Alloy, Titanium Alloy, etc. but which alloys exactly? 301 1/2-hard steel? 17-4PH? 6061-T6 aluminum? Or cast C355? Titanium 6-4? Or 6-2-4-2? Obviously you’re going to have your own material properties in mind, and you’ll probably use them frequently enough to where you’d like to have them readily accessible. Maybe store them in a library, or something.

As it turns out, you’re not confined to the libraries ANSYS provides with the Workbench installation. You can create your own libraries too. To start this off, first click in the first blank line in the top Engineering Data Sources section, where it says, “Click here to add a new library” (seems pretty straight-forward, doesn’t it?) and type a unique name for the library. I’ll call mine “Jeff’s Materials” because I’m incredibly original that way. Then hit Enter.

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You’ll be prompted for a location and xml file name for the library. Specify these and click Save. All of your material names and properties will be stored in this file.

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Notice that the new library is checked. That means it is unlocked and able to be edited.

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At that point you can add material names, insert properties from the left side Toolbox, etc.

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Type in some material names

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Then define their properties

Once you’re finished adding and editing materials, uncheck the column B box of the library to lock it up. Click Yes to accept changes. If you want to add or edit materials to your library at a later date, simply unlock it by checking the column B check box again.

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Now, let’s say you want to share your awesome material library with your co-workers, or maybe you’ve installed a new version of ANSYS and you want to include it, or maybe your library was deleted by gnomes during the night. How do you bring it back into Workbench? Simple. First make sure the xml file is available (you’ll want to email it to your co-workers and have them save it to their disks if you’re sharing it with them). Toggle the libraries on by clicking on the stack of books button. Then simply click the little ellipsis button on the “Click here to add a new library” line.

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Browse to the appropriate xml file and open it.

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And now you have your library back.

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I was too lazy to define all the materials for this article, hence the question marks

This is all well and good, but wouldn’t it be nice if we could change the materials that are immediately available in Engineering Data upon opening Workbench, and set the default material assignment to something besides Structural Steel? As it turns out, you can do both of these, and I’ll show you how in the next installment of Efficient Engineering Data.