MCAD Tech News #140

2 Mar, 2005 By: Jeffrey Rowe

Cadalyst MCAD Tech News

COSMOSWorks 2005 Designer

This versatile, introductory analysis tool provides room to grow

COSMOSWorks is a design analysis application that, once installed, is tightly integrated into SolidWorks. It performs finite element analysis (FEA) on SolidWorks' models that simulates their physical behavior in the real world.

Much like SolidWorks, COSMOSWorks is available in several configurations that contain bundles for specific types of analysis. For this short review, we'll be looking at COSMOSWorks 2005 Designer ($3,495), which can perform the following types of analysis, or studies: linear stress and displacement, thermal stress and contact analysis in assemblies with friction. You can use it to analyze parts (thin parts, sheet metal parts and surface shells) and assemblies. All this is quite a step up from COSMOS Xpress, the analysis application built into SolidWorks.

Simplified but Thorough Capabilities
COSMOSWorks 2005 Designer potentially appeals to a broad range of users. This version has simplified several analysis processes for newer users, but it also expands some analysis capabilities, which should make more experienced users happy. This version of COSMOSWorks Designer also exhibits tighter integration and a higher degree of interaction with SolidWorks, further improving ease of use.

COSMOSWorks is an add-in application for SolidWorks. Keep in mind that COSMOSWorks 2005 Designer requires SolidWorks 2005 to function. When installed, it has its own menu heading name at the top of the SolidWorks screen, as well as its own tab at the top of SolidWorks' FeatureManager design tree panel. You can also add a COSMOSWorks toolbar to the SolidWorks window. COSMOSWorks Designer also has its own online help system.

Analysis studies are organized in the graphical COSMOSWorks Manager tree. It looks, feels and behaves a lot like the FeatureManager tree in SolidWorks. A folder is created for each study, and study parameters reside in subfolders. You can also use menus to accomplish all this, but the tree is much more visual and intuitive, another good feature for new users. COSMOSWorks uses a Property Manager-style interface to display results, rather than requiring users to access results plot options through dialog boxes. This makes it easier to preview results and change settings.

Setting Up a Study
Regardless of the study type, all analyses with COSMOSWorks 2005 Designer are performed using the same basic steps:
  • Define the analysis type and options.

  • Define study parameters for their impact on a design.

  • Define material properties. (You can skip this step if material properties are already defined in SolidWorks.)

  • Specify restraints and loads.

  • Divide the model into small elements for analysis in a process called meshing.

  • Define "what-if" design scenarios.

  • Run an individual study or selected design scenarios.

  • View the results.

You can perform the "define" steps in any order, but all must be complete before running an analysis study.

Interpreting Results
As important as it is to set up and run an analysis, just as important is interpreting the results, and COSMOSWorks Designer offers several ways to visualize them. For example, you can study analysis results using 3D contour plots, use section plots to display results along various depths of a model — the sections also can be moved dynamically — and determine the safety factor of your model using the unique Design Check Wizard.

If you collaborate with others and want to share your analysis results, a couple of the more interesting ways to accomplish this in COSMOSWorks Designer are to export animations of results as AVI files or publish eDrawings files that contain analysis information.

COSMOSWorks 2005 Designer is a very capable introductory analysis tool that works well with SolidWorks. It's relatively easy to learn and use and should accommodate most users who find they need more capabilities than those offered by COSMOS Xpress. COSMOSWorks Designer also provides a gateway for the next steps up in the COSMOS line — COSMOSWorks Professional and COSMOSWorks Advanced Professional for analyses that include frequency, buckling, drop test, nonlinear and advanced dynamics. With any of the COSMOS products, however, you can extend capabilities with add-on applications, such as COSMOSFloWorks for CFD (computational fluid dynamics) and COSMOSMotion for motion simulation.

COSMOSWorks 2005 won't handle complex design problems, which are better left to high-end — and high-priced, difficult-to-learn — analysis products. But it will provide an affordable and understandable way to get FEA into your mechanical design workflow.