Why SOLIDWORKS Simulation is Best for CFD and FEA Simulation Needs

dateOctober 22, 2021

Are you looking to speed up your decision-making process concerning product design and functionality? Do you need simulation products that guarantee you power and accuracy? Do you want to cut down on development time while also achieving safety and high performance? Well, you may have just found the solution.

SOLIDWORKS simulation is user-friendly structural analysis software that allows you to ask and answer some of the toughest engineering questions regarding the performance and safety of your products.

SOLIDWORKS simulation allows you to determine product durability, optimize the design, determine natural frequencies, product mechanical resistance, and more. It also lets you examine heat transfer as well as buckling instabilities.

solidworks simulation, finite element model, fea simulation software, simulation software tools

The SOLIDWORKS product development and design cycle/process usually follow one route. This is because the design has to be continuously modified from the stage of conception to manufacturing until it meets the criteria for which it was created.

These criteria will include—but are not limited to—safety, performance, cost, shape, and usability/convenience. The development cycle involves:

  • Building the model in SOLIDWORKS
  • Prototyping or design simulation
  • Testing the prototype
  • Evaluating results

The cycle/process usually rotates around the testing and adjustment phase until the product matches the exact criteria.

The great thing about the SOLIDWORKS software is that it lets you carry out the tests and evaluations right on the software, taking away the costs and time it takes to alternate between filed tests and modifications.

This article will show you just how useful SOLIDWORKS simulation is for computational fluid dynamics (CFD) and finite element analysis (FEA). Let's get right into it.

What is Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) simulation

computational fluid dynamics simulation

CFD is an acronym for computational fluid dynamics and it refers to the analysis of fluid flow using a number-based solution.

CFD is a physics-related tool that allows the product designer or engineer to examine and inspect complex problems with regards to the flow and interaction between fluid-solid, fluid-fluid, or fluid-gas. All this are done without carrying out real-life tests.

CFD simulations and analysis are most frequently used in engineering industries like hydrodynamics, civil engineering, aerospace, and aerodynamics. This is because field properties like velocities and pressure and quantities like lift and drag are sought.

To understand computational fluid dynamics simulation is to first know what fluid mechanics means. Fluid mechanics is a branch of physics that studies the flow and force within a fluid.

The role of computational fluid dynamics in all of this is to create algebraic equations from these laws that help engineers to easily, numerically, and efficiently solve the equations.

How does computational fluid dynamics (CFD) simulation work?

computational fluid dynamics simulation, finite elements method

CFD simulation helps engineers to develop solutions to safety and functionality problems relating to engines and other multiplex systems, helping to create a safer environment for day-to-day life. This software goes through three different stages before solutions are reached and they are:

A. Pre-processing

This stage is the first and most important as it gives you a clear idea of the situation. It will help you accurately determine the framework of the simulations.

For this stage to be carried out properly, engineers have to divide the process into sub-segments. They have to prep the geometry, mesh it, determine the properties, and set the boundary conditions and layer.

Engineers have to first analyze the problem they're faced with. Depending on their finding, they must utilize tools like SOLIDWORKS Simulation Software to develop a three-dimensional geometry.

Note that a CFD simulation software, like any other application or software, will only function up to the knowledge of the user. Engineers must ensure that the model is free from overlapping faces, gaps, and free faces/edges/vertices.

computational fluid dynamics simulation

B. Processing

The main process is a set of rules and guidelines that must be obeyed to avoid error messages as the project moves forward. Every step in the process is dependent on the previous one and determines the next.

C. Postprocessing

The postprocessing stage refers to everything that happens after the simulation. You have to study the results. Using every method possible, including contour plots, streamlines, vector plots, and data curves.

This stage involves processes such as systematic data analysis, calculation of the derived quantities, debugging, verification and validation of the CFD model, visualization, calculation of parameters.

Although computational fluid dynamics (CFD) does not completely eradicate the need for real-world testing, it has been widely applied in the modeling of fluid flows. It is one of the most crucial CAD software for modeling and designing several machines, components, and tools. It is a great tool for solving engineering problems.

What is Finite Element Analysis (FEA) simulation?

finite element analysis simulation, finite element method, fea simulation

To fully identify, quantify, and understand physical phenomena like thermal support, fluid flows & behavior, biology cells and how they grow, as well as wave propagation, there is a need to use mathematics. This is because the processes mentioned above require partial differential equations (PDEs).

A computer can only solve these problems/equations using numerical methods and that's where a finite element analysis software comes in.

Finite element analysis refers to the use of finite element methods (FEM) in the simulation of physical phenomena. It is essentially a numerical technique that uses approximate solutions to construct mathematical models.

Some types of FEM include the generalized finite element method and mixed finite element method.

Engineers use a finite element analysis software to cut down the large number of real-world experiments and physical prototypes. This helps them to optimize components at the design stage to create safer, better products faster. All these while saving some money. FEA is one crucial principle used for developing simulation software.

How does Finite Element Analysis (FEA) simulation work?

To make designing and engineering easier, FEA algorithms have to be added to simulation software like SOLIDWORKS, Autodesk Inventor Nastran, and others.

FEA uses calculations, simulations, and models to understand and foretell the possible behavior of an object or machine under different physical conditions. A finite element analysis software helps engineers to test for vulnerability in their designs without performing physical tests.

The programs make it easier for designers and architects to run a complex structural analysis using numerical methods. They're often integrated into CAD software (computer-aided design software).

The finite element analysis simulation (FEA simulation) process starts with the generation of a mesh that contains a wide range of elements that make up the entire shape.

This method writes out the 3D object in the form of numbers and a series of mathematical points. You can then alter the solidity and thickness of the mesh by how complex or simple the required simulation is.

Different types of FEA tests include:

  • Thermal engineering analysis (heat transfer)
  • Engineering seismic calculations
  • Modal analysis
  • Structural static analysis

It is important to note that the main reason for FEA is to provide a matchless user experience for users of the product.

Common problems encountered in design simulation

While running structural analysis for your design, problems are bound to arise, no matter what CAD or simulation platform you use. Below are a few of the most common problems you'll face while running product development with design simulation.

product simulation, complex structural engineering problems

1. Lack of precision

Simulations are supposed to give the designer the right clues to proper product development, helping them to properly structure the features of the system. If the designer cannot trust the clues given by the analysis software, then there'll be inaccuracies in the result.

2. Complicated software

Many simulation tools and software are difficult to use. Users will avoid tools that are too complicated to understand or navigate. It is advised that engineers look for tools that help them easily navigate, examine, and design objects, and CFD/FEA are not left out.

3. Slow performance

With a reduced or slow rate of results, simulations will take longer to settle and the process becomes more time-consuming than expected.

4. Deficient integration into CAD systems

Simulations are easier done when they're carried out on design tools like CAD. Without a platform or tool like CAD, the process becomes more cumbersome and difficult to accomplish.

5. The need to acquire special knowledge

A simulation tool should help the engineer to break down mathematical expressions using number-based methods. Most of these expressions are made complex due to material properties and geometries.

If it requires the designer to study every simulation tool out there to become effective, then the project will become even more complex and solutions harder to get.

Having understood what FEA and CFD are, you would like to take a look at why SOLIDWORKS simulation is the best for your design needs.

Why use SOLIDWORKS simulation for your design needs?

In the simplest terms, SOLIDWORKS is a 3D modeling software application that allows designers to create a visual representation of the final product without having it at hand.

It is known as one of the best software for finite element analysis (FEA) and computational fluid dynamics (CFD) simulation. The product is widely used by product engineers, drafters, artists, and many others in the engineering industry. A few reasons why designers choose SOLIDWORKS simulation is because the software offers:

  • An easy-to-use and user-friendly interface
  • 3D modeling
  • Design rendering
  • Automatically generated 2D drawings

The purpose of the software is to give clients a clear view of what the result of the design will be, with factors including efficiency, effectiveness, power, flow, and safety. SOLIDWORKS simulation functions perfectly on almost every operating system, making it useful to everyone.

Types of SOLIDWORKS Simulation Software

It is worth noting that there's always a free simulation tool in every SOLIDWORKS CAD seat which offers basic FEA capabilities.

But for a more robust simulation of a 3D model, here are three major types or packages of the SOLIDWORKS simulation software with different features and functions.

1. SOLIDWORKS Simulation Standard

solidworks simulation standard

The Simulation Standard package gives you an intuitive virtual testing platform to carry out linear static analysis, time-based motion, and high-cycle fatigue. With these features, engineers can foretell the design life expectancy, safety, and power.

The software will also come with a few other features and tools that make it easy to communicate results to the entire team. You would like the other features that come with the package. They include:

  • Real-world virtual testing
  • Linear static analysis
  • Trend tracker
  • Time-based kinetic motion
  • Powerful meshing tools
  • Fatigue analysis

The bottom line is that the SOLIDWORKS Simulation Standard helps engineers to determine the structural model of their machines/products to ensure that it serves the predetermined purpose to users.

2.SOLIDWORKS Simulation Professional

solidworks simulation professional

Unlike the Standard package that offers you a basic testing ground, the Simulation Professional lets you determine natural frequencies, product durability, and product mechanical resistance. It also allows you to analyze complex systems, loading scenarios, test buckling instabilities, and thermal transfer.

Simulation Professional lets you:

  • Examine thermal loads
  • Simulate frequency
  • Analyze drop test
  • Study structural optimization
  • Perform topology studies
  • Assembly motion analysis

The Professional package is a more advanced system for simulation. This SOLIDWORKS Simulation software package grants you the efficiency and power it takes to create products that do great in any industry. Simulation Professional also carries out linear multi-physics simulations.

3. SOLIDWORKS Simulation Premium

solidworks simulation premium

SOLIDWORKS Simulation Premium offers more advanced simulation solutions than the Standard and Professional. It has everything you need for any industry. SOLIDWORKS Simulation Premium is a form of 3D design solution that complements the professional.

The software provides tools that help engineers to analyze the dynamic and non-linear response, complex material models, and dynamic loading. Other features of this package include:

  • Plastic material This helps to create a more lightweight material for faster vehicles.
  • Deformation of plastic
  • Nonlinear analysis
  • Contact analysis
  • Offload simulations
  • Dynamic analysis


Finite Element Analysis (FEA) and Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) are crucial in the product development process. To efficiently validate your designs, you’ll need a powerful tool that has a friendly interface which gives you seamless navigation between your 3D CAD model and simulation interface and that's what SOLIDWORKS Simulation offers.

SOLIDWORKS Simulation lets you examine the functionality of your products on virtual and real-world platforms before manufacture. With SEACAD's SOLIDWORKS Simulation, you're given every package that ensures a seamless transition from idea to completion.

SOLIDWORKS Simulation allows you to analyze fluids, heat transfer, product thermal design, and so much more. With SOLIDWORKS simulation, no advanced training is required to create your objects and machines.

To learn more about SOLIDWORKS Simulation or to get a quote from one of the top SOLIDWORKS Simulation resellers in Singapore, visit SEACAD and you will get all your engineering and design needs met.