Analysis tipsTips-Tricks

Tips & Tricks: AutoDesk ForceEffect

Ever had to scribble down a rough sketch of some problem geometry, run some quick calculations in order to get an idea of loads and reactions, and then iterate this again & again to get a good solution?

Some of the tools we use like SolidWorks Motion and MathCAD are a step too far sometimes, so let us introduce you to a great problem solving tool called AutoDesk ForceEffect. In this Tip & Trick we highlight some of the benefits and capabilities of the software, and compare a quick example to theoretical hand calculations and SolidWorks Motion results.

Benefits & Capability
AutoDesk ForceEffect is a FREE engineering app for simulating design concepts in the field or in the office. Unlike the traditional approach of using paper, pencil, and a calculator to develop equations for design options, Autodesk ForceEffect does all the simulation and engineering calculations for you right in your browser, enabling you to quickly and easily simulate design options during the concept phase to determine the viability of a design.

It's easy to create free body diagrams with additional benefits such as:

  • Able to take an image of the real world geometry and sketch over it with scaled members.
  • Ability to apply point loads, UDL's moments or unknown forces that you would like the software to resolve.
  • Selection of restraints, pin, roller pin etc
  • You can add self-weight to members
  • Generation of shear force and bending moment diagrams
  • Flexible so that iterations of variation of geometry/loads can be conducted to speed up the design process.

In addition to being able to create standard free body diagrams, ForceEffect has a kinematic function that allows you to add linear and rotary actuators to create simple machines like the scissor lift below. You can sequence actuators, adjust their speed and see the variation of force through a member as the machine completes its operation - pretty cool!


Scissor Lift Example

Reactions can be displayed on screen but the program goes further by generating a report that generates shear force and bending moment diagrams for each member.


Shear Force and Bending Moment Report

How does it compare?
In this example, a quick FBD was drawn in ForceEffect to give an indication of the ram force required to lift a specific load, before an analysis was performed in Solidworks Motion with real geometry and sections.


Free Body Diagram

The horizontal reaction at M from the vertical applied load was found to be 49kN, due to symmetry this value needs to be doubled, 98kN.

SolidWorks Motion created an output a value of 96kN, see plot below. This gives us confidence in ForceEffect to give us quick results so we can speed up the design process or get an idea of loads/reactions and it can be done anywhere as long as your smart phone is with you!


SolidWorks Motion Result

While this is a simple example it illustrates the usefulness of the tool - if you have more complicated problems please call us! We have the tools and techniques to solve your complex engineering problems.

Stuart Milne
Design Engineer at Motovated
+64 3 382 5282