Duh! Three ANSYS Mechanical Features I Should Know But Didn’t

Selection Information, Manage Views, and Changing Settings on Multiple Load Steps

There is no way to hide the embarrassing reality. I am supposed to be an expert. I am introduced to people as such. People all over the world read stuff I write about how to use ANSYS products more effectively.  But last week and this week, humility has struck a devastating blow on my ego.  I found three very useful things in ANSYS Mechanical that I either didn’t know, or forgot about. I even mentioned one of them (Manage Views) in an update presentation as “cool and very important feature” then promptly forgot it was there.

As payment for my sins, I will share a brief description of each with all of you, in the hopes that I will: 1) make you feel better about yourself because you already knew this stuff, or 2) give you the knowledge you need to avoid the embarrassment, and lost productivity, that my ignorance has brought me. 

Selection Information

I mention this one first because it was pointed out to me by no less than the ANSYS Mechanical product manager at ANSYS, Inc. Yikes.  I believe he actually did a face palm when I asked him “What is Selection Information? There is an Icon with an i on the toolbar? Really?”

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There it is, right next to the Worksheet icon, an icon I use all the time.  What it does is give you information about geometry, CAD and nodes, in your model.  There are three ways to get it, not just the icon on the toolbar:

  1. Click the Icon
  2. In the menu go to View>Windows>Selection Information
  3. Double-click on the Selection details at the bottom of the ANSYS Mechanical Window

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However you use it, you will get a new window, embedded with the existing windows, that shows you information about the geometry entity of entities that you select. Normal selection options apply. You can pick vertices, edges, surfaces, or bodies. I like to drag it out as it’s own window so I can see it all.  (Notice how I talk like I do this all the time… yea, whatever.  I just figured out that it is a lot better if I drag it out and look at it by itself.) 

My sample model is just a cylinder, so If I pick the end and the cylinder I get:

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See how it lists the two faces, and a summary. There is some internal info in there as well like ID’s that ANSYS mechanical uses to do stuff. The toolbar across the top lets you select a coordinate system to do the calculations in, set options (the green checkbox) or  control if you want individual info, summary info, or both. 

The options are useful because by default, everything is on. Turning some stuff off can reduce the clutter.

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For nodes, I can get location, node number, and body information:

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When you are in the window there are some useful things you can do with the list. The first is sort by clicking on the column headers.  What node is at your max X position in your cylindrical coordinate system?  Just set the Coordinate System and click on X(in) twice to sort from max o min:

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If you select any of the cells, you can right mouse click and get a context menu that lets you reselect the entities being listed, export to a text or Excel file, Refresh, or copy to the clipboard:

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Give it a shot next time your in a model and want to know some stuff.

Manage Views

One of the more useful capabilities in ANSYS Mechanical APDL is the ability to define views in a macro and call them back up again, getting the same standard views every time. Well you have been able to do that in Workbench when the introduced the “Scary Eye” icon at I think 14.5 (maybe 14):

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Although it looks like a secret Masonic symbol, the icon actually represents a handy tool for saving views not only in your model but to files.  It is also available in View->Windows->Manage Views.

Not only that, it lets you save the view commands to an external file that you can use with other models or even go in and edit to create a very specific view.

When you start it up, it brings up its own little window as well, that has eye themed icons to control your view saving/recall experience.

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  • “Spooky Eye Box with a Plus Sign” creates a view from the current view you are seeing
  • “X” deletes the currently selected view or views
  • “Guy with 80’s hair looking at a box” applies the currently selected view. Double-clicking on the view does the same thing.
  • “A-bar-B” is used to rename the selected view
  • “Spooky Eye Box with Green Blob” redefines the currently selected view with whatever the current view settings are in the graphics window. Think of it as an overwrite.
  • “Disk with arrow out” reads in a saved view file from disk.
  • “Disk with arrow in” saves the currently selected view to disk.

So, get your model positioned the way you want it using the mouse to control the view, then click the first icon to save it.  The program puts the window into “rename” mode so you can give it a descriptive name here. Just keep doing that till you have all your views defined.

If at some point you want to change view, no need to delete and recreate it. Simply Click on the view you want to redefine and then click on “Spooky Eye Box with Green Blob.”

Note: You can only select more than one view and delete it.  None of the other commands work for more than one view. But the save views command saves all the views, regardless of how many you have selected.

Here are some views I created:

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Now it gets cool.  Click on a view and then click on the “Save” (last) icon.  It will save the views as an XML file.  Pop that into your handy-dandy XML editor and you can check out the view definitions:

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This is where I get excited. Now you can go into this file and create your own view, or modify a view to be very specific.  I didn’t have enough time to figure out what all the options did, but if you get a view that is close to what you want, you should be able to modify it from there.

The last thing to talk about is what happens if you right mouse click on a view?  You get:

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Yes, copy as MAPDL!  Not only is this useful for us old guys that just like to look at MAPDL, it lets you use the same view for any plots you may make with a code snippet as you used for the plots in ANSYS Mechanical.  So your views are consistent for all your plots!

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Modifying Multiple Load Steps

This was one of those “there has to be a way to do this” moments. We were talking about different ways to speed up the solution of a transient thermal model and I suggested that instead of using automatic time step controls they put in some values. But for the life of me I couldn’t figure out how to change a bunch of load step settings at the same time, so I was changing them one at a time. For every step, change the step number, then change the value:

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Yawn!  This started off a “well in ANSYS classic, I could write a script that would… blah… blah… blah…”

There has got to be a better way.  There is.  In the Graph window the load steps are shown on the X-axis. Simply multi-select the steps you want to change there:

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In the example above I CTRL-Clicked steps 3, 5, and 7. Now my Analysis Settings details view looks like:

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See how Current Step Number and Step End Time are “Multi Step”.  Any change I make to settings will now be applied to the selected steps.  A huge time savings.  And a big “Duh, I should have known that!”