Introduction: ME 470 Solidworks Flow Simulation

The idea of this project was to get a basic understanding of how Solidworks Flow Simulation works. Overall, flow simulation can become pretty advanced, but with some understanding of how to setup the model, making the simulation becomes fairly straightforward. Hopefully this page will help you gain a better understanding of simulation.

Step 1: Creating the Model

At first, I had sort of a general idea of what I wanted to do with the flow simulation, but that transformed as the project developed. My first step was to create the model for the water tank in Solidworks. This will require some familiarity with basic Solidworks operations.

Water Tank:

The tank consists of a large cylinder with a wall thickness of 0.5 inches. The tank is 50 inches in height and 30 inches in diameter. I then created a hole in the bottom of the tank using the "hole wizard." The hole diameter was 5/8 inch, which seemed to be a reasonable outlet size for a pipe. Chamfer the hole.

Outlet pipe:
Create a sketch with concentric circles around the hole in the bottom of the tank. The only requirement is that the inner diameter of the pipe equals the hole diameter, 5/8 inch in this case. I chose to have an outer diameter of 0.625 + 0.300 inches. Extrude the pipe 5 inches in the vertical direction.

Step 2: Flow Simulation Wizard

Make sure that you have Flow Simulation Add-in activated under the "Solidworks Add-ins" ribbon.

On the Flow Simulation tab you will see in the upper left-hand corner the "wizard" option. Choose this option to begin a new flow project. You will be guided through several steps in this wizard which will create the basic framework for your flow project. (More of this is included in the video.)

You will first be asked to choose a coordinate scheme for the project; in this example, I used the foot-pound-seconds scheme. You will then be asked to choose what type of flow your project will be using, "Internal" or "External." Since we are checking for internal pressure of the tank, this is an internal flow problem. Under this same window you will be asked to check several boxes to include in the computation.

You will then be asked to choose the type of liquid involved as well as the material of the tank itself. Here, I used water and plain carbon steel. There are several other items to

Step 3: Creating Boundary Conditions

Before you can run the project, you have to set boundary conditions on each inlet and outlet In this case, the outlet is the 5 in. pipe, and the inlet is the top opening of the tank. Therefore, the boundary conditions are the outlet pressure at the pipe and the inlet mass flow into the tank. Depending on how Solidworks' views your problem, you may have to insert a inlet mass flow boundary condition at the top of the tank.

Step 4: Goals: What You Want to Know

Understanding how the flow solver works is important. There are two basic input parameters that we need to give the system: boundary conditions and goals. Creating boundary conditions basically tells the solver what you already know about the system (in our case water tank.) We add goals to the project to specify what we want to know about the flow. They also serve the purpose of speeding up the solving process. Giving the solver the boundary conditions and goals allow for a well-posed flow analysis.

Step 5: Viewing the Results

Once you have run the solver, you can view the results using the "cut plot" tool. You create a slice of data that corresponds to some plane you give it ( in our case, I used the front plane.) This allows you to view certain types of results on the given "cut" that you make. You have the options of doing a basic mesh cut or a contour plot along the plane. I used the contour plot to view the velocity distribution inside the tank and pipe.