First Looks: COSMOSWorks 2003 Professional

1 Jul, 2003 By: Jeffrey Rowe

3D models add details to design.

COSMOSWorks 2003 Professional
Finite-element analysis
pros: Well integrated with SolidWorks; relatively easy to use.
cons: None significant, although learning curve will challenge some users.
price: $6,995

Structural Research & Analysis Corp.

Over the past few years, much discussion about FEA (finite element analysis) software applications has focused on two issues:
   • making FEA a more integral part of the product development cycle and
   • getting FEA into the hands of more designers and engineers, not just analysis specialists.

To a large extent, these issues are being addressed and resolved through ease of use.

Most FEA products do have a hefty learning curve, and certain types of analyses will always be best left to specialists. On the other hand, a new breed of FEA and optimization product is emerging, and COSMOSWorks 2003 is among the best.

If you've used COSMOSXpress (packaged with SolidWorks 2003), you have a good idea of what FEA can bring to the design process. You also have an advantage when it comes to learning COSMOSXpress' big brother, COSMOSWorks 2003, because all of the concepts you learned with COSMOSXpress are the same in COSMOSWorks, just more detailed and comprehensive.

COSMOSWorks 2003 Professional
COSMOSWorks 2003 automatically highlights minimum and maximum values on the Results plot, helping you identify critical areas of a model.
Although you can use COSMOSWorksM to run several types of analyses, including displacement contact, hydrostatic pressure, thermal stress, and shape optimization, I concentrated on static analyses of static parts and assemblies for this review.

After you install COSMOSWorks, it becomes part of the SolidWorks user interface, with its own menu and commands as well as its own Manager tab at the bottom of the SolidWorks Feature Manager tree.

The Feature Manager is now used instead of dialog boxes for specifying such things as restraints, loads, and mesh control. You can also preview and modify a load or restraint before applying it.

Running a static analysis on a solid component or shell involves the following basic steps:

Create a study. In static analyses, you set up a study to calculate displacements, reaction forces, stress, strain, and factors of safety by defining the study name, analysis type (in this case, static), and mesh type.

Assign a material. Use the material library that comes with COSMOSWorks to model components or shells. You also can create your own material library using the COSMOSWorks Material Browser utility. COSMOSWorks Manager tree displays the material you assign.

Apply restraints such as loads and displacements at vertices, edges, and faces.

Set mesh preferences and mesh the part. You can program COSMOSWorks to automatically try a different element size and tolerance if the initial meshing fails to solve. In previous versions, an error message displayed and the application stopped.

Run the study. COSMOSWorks performs the calculations that you specified parameters for in the previous three steps.

Review the results. Options include looking at plots or reports. Pick the one that best suits your needs and provides you with the most useful information.

This is just a simple example of how to set up COSMOSWorks and what it can do. You can specify and tweak parameters for your studies to the nth degree to obtain precise analysis information on a whole object or area of an object.

Until this release of COSMOSWorks, you could only enter numbers in numerical fields when defining material properties, restraints, loads, etc. Now you can link a numeric field to a parameter that is defined by name, type, unit, a value, or expression. Parameters are associative and define input for other fields.

COSMOSWorks 2003 has a new tetrahedral element-meshing technique called AccuStress, a meshing control tool specifically designed as a basis for accurate stress results in areas where a part or assembly might fail. It automatically detects areas that might need more accurate stress computation. Once you obtain accurate stress results, you can optimize parts and assemblies when you return to the design process. If the meshing of a part or assembly fails, a message displays, and you can use a failure diagnostics tool to locate and resolve meshing problems. These meshing tools can be real time savers.

A nice side feature of the tight integration between COSMOSWorks and SolidWorks is that you can save analysis result plots as eDrawings for animating and viewing. Then you can e-mail the eDrawings to anyone to view, zoom, and rotate them.

I've barely scratched the surface of what COSMOSWorks 2003 Professional can do. Suffice it to say that this is a very comprehensive yet relatively easy-to-use FEA package.

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Lynn Allen

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