The Advantage of 2D Simulation

2D Simulation can save you significant time compared to 3D Simulation. Here's what you need to know.

Yes, you read that correctly. No, I did not change companies to work a for 2D CAD Company.

Sometimes, though, if the proper conditions apply, a 2D Simulation analysis can save huge amounts of time and processing power. SOLIDWORKS Simulation has the ability to simplify certain cases from large, complex meshes to lightweight 2D meshes for static, thermal and nonlinear studies.

Take this clip, for example. For the nonlinear study, I just want to engage the clip and verify the stresses on the tabs will not cause failure.

With a simplified 3D mesh, we have over 140,000 elements. Not a huge problem, but when compared to the 2D simplified study (2778 elements), it had a huge impact on solve time.

Notice the mesh setting between the two are very similar. The mesh controls are also similar between the two models. Since the 3D model had fillets at most of the corners, I chose the “Standard Mesher” to control which fillets got a finer mesh. Note: Curvature-based mesh, scans your geometry and puts a finer mesh on all small features.

Let’s take a look at solve time:

2D analysis:

3D analysis:

Under a minute, compared to over an HOUR!

Solve time is one thing but, in the end, accuracy is most important. Let’s take a look at the max stresses. Since this is a time-dependent, nonlinear problem, I had to find the max stress over the entire simulation. SOLIDWORKS Simulation makes this easy!

In the Stress plot definition, click the “Plot bounds across all steps” button. This will give you the Max (or min) stresses regardless of when they occur.

We see that the stresses for my 2D analysis are almost identical to the 3D study.

2D = 115 MPa

3D = 119 MPa

That is only a difference of 3.4%!; well within acceptable range, considering I just saved myself over an hour! Of course, this is a simple design. However, imagine using this technique early in a design process. We can run 10 iterations and get the same feedback in the time it would take to run 1 iteration of a 3D analysis.

More information delivered earlier in the process. That’s what SOLIDWORKS Simulation is all about!

As always, thanks for reading, and Happy Simulating!