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Tips & Tricks: Fast and Easy Meshing!

We all know how frustrating it can be to get complex models to mesh. Here is a quick look at the SolidWorks "Curvature Based Mesh" tool. This tool significantly cuts down on the time spent meshing your complex models! The general idea is that the mesh will refine itself based on the curvature of the geometry. For example small holes will have much more refinement than a large flat plate.

Here we are going to mesh the solid model shown below. As you can see it has many areas which will need refinement for a successful mesh.

Complex model that needs to be meshed
Using the standard mesh tool the global mesh needed to be set to 10mm before it could even mesh. With a total meshing time of 50 minutes, this is obviously a poor result.
10mm global mesh result using standard mesh tool
Now for the "Curvature Based Mesh" tool. Using a global mesh size of 10mm for comparison, and leaving the rest of the settings as standard (min element size, min number of elements in a circle, element size growth ration respectively), the mesh completes in only 2 minutes! Not to mention areas around small details are automatically refined.

The mesh did have around 30% more elements though, possibly leading to longer FEA solve times. One of the main reasons for this dramatic speed increase is that the "Curvature Based Mesh" better utilises multiple core processing than the standard mesher (see the link at the end of the article for more information).

Options presented for "Curvature Based Mesh" tool
Practically you would never want such a small global mesh for this kind of solid model as your FEA solver times will be through the roof! A more appropriate method is to apply some mesh controls around detailed areas and then increase the global mesh to a more practical size.

Using the standard mesh tool, mesh controls are applied to all areas that would need refinement (some trial and error is likely needed here). Then with a 30mm global mesh size the standard mesh tool was able to complete the mesh in 55 seconds.

Now with the "Curvature Based Mesh" tool set to 30mm global mesh size, the mesh completes in 24 seconds with a similar amount of elements. Not only that, it worked the first time and there was no need to apply any mesh refinement controls!

"Curvature Based Mesh" tool with no refinement added
In summary, the "Curvature Based Mesh" tool significantly cut down the time and effort required to get this complex model to mesh. The only drawback to be wary of is that it may create more elements than the standard mesh tool – possibly leading to longer FEA solve times. We also noticed that the Curvature Based Mesh settings sometimes took priority over manually added mesh controls. So always be sure to check the mesh is suitable before you move on to solving your studies!
Article courtesy of Chris Tyree
Motovated Design & Analysis

See the links below for more information:

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