It’s said that “You can please some of the people all of the time, or all of the people some of the time, but you can’t use software with factory default settings.” Or something like that… Anyway here are the SOLIDWORKS Simulation settings and options that you might want to change to improve your Simulation experience. Or maybe not. That’s why they’re called Options.
Giving the programmers some credit, there are opposing forces at work: generally it’s a trade-off between performance and appearance. Nicer-looking stuff requires more computing resources. Two other ideals are at odds: new users versus experienced users, and analysts versus engineers. Other user and environment differences abound. So it’s not surprising that some settings and options aren’t ideal out-of-the-box.
Assuming you know what you’re doing (because you came to a training class for example), the following suggestions will make your Simulation easier to use, more reliable, and/or nicer to work with and share with others.
For all of these tips, you’ll need to launch SOLIDWORKS, turn on your Simulation Add-In, and open a Part file! Then you can change this stuff.
1. Replace the Study Advisor icon on the Simulation toolbar with the New Study icon instead.
Let’s start with the change that inspired this blog post. The first default icon on the Simulation tab of the CommandManager will launch the Study Advisor. That opens the task Pane on the right and gives you some pre-packaged advice about what type of Study to start. (And there are other Simulation Advisors which try to guide you about Fixtures, Loads, and so on. See tip #2.)
“Advice is something everybody likes to give, and nobody likes to take.” -Anonymous
To change the Study Advisor icon to a normal New Study icon:
- Right click on the Simulation tab of the CommandManager and choose Customize CommandManager…
- In the dialog that appears, go to the Commands page, and select the Simulation
- Grab the first icon in the bunch, that looks like a rainbow lollipop, and drag it onto the CommandManager toolbar where you want New Study to live.
- Remove the existing Study Advisor flyout icon by dragging it off the toolbar and into space (you’ll see a red X next to your cursor).
Before: Now there’s another step you’ll need in order to see the changes when you’re working with an Assembly:
- Right click on Simulation tab of the Command Manager and choose Copy Tab to Assemblies.
Now it’s easier to start a new Study!
2. Repurpose all the Simulation “Advisor” icons.
You might notice all the other flyout icons are similarly named Fixtures Advisor, Connections Advisor, Results Advisor, etc… If you click one of those big flyout icons, you’ll get an advice column popping up in the Task Pane to the right. Let’s turn that off so those icons simply expand the list of icons beneath them
- From the Simulation pull-down menu at the top of the screen, go to… Simulation > Options > System Options > General
- Run Simulation Advisor from CommandManager = OFF
After: Now you don’t have to click precisely on the little black down-arrow!
3. Prevent Appearances from changing when you apply a material to the Study.
When I first encountered this, I thought it was a bug. Nope. It’s a feature. Applying a Material within a Study changes the appearance of the part(s) to match the material, overriding their previous color/texture. Here’s how to turn this off, so your parts continue looking the same as they did.
- Simulation > Options > System > General
- Hide excluded bodies and show study material appearances = OFF
This will also improve performance when switching between Studies!
4. Change the shell mesh color from orange to blue.
OK, so this one might just be my personal preference… Shell meshes in Simulation have two sides, cleverly called the Top and the Bottom. Sometimes you might even care which side is which (they should align, and you can obtain stress results and define thickness offsets per side). The default color for the bottom side is orange; the top is gray. I always forgot this fact, until I changed orange to blue.
- Simulation > Options > System > General
- Mesh colors > Shell bottom face color
- .. choose a nice bright blue. OK
It looks nicer, and both “bottom” and “blue” begin with “B”! I guess you could also use brown, but black is bad, and boy is brown boring.
Come Back for More About “Default Options”
There is another set of settings found under Simulation > Options > Default Options. Most of those settings only affect Studies that you make in the future. They are options that will be inherited by the next New Study. Once a Study is created, most of these Default Options will then be found within the Study itself — Study Properties, or within the individual settings of a given plot or load or what-have-you. Some cannot be changed once the Study is created. I’ll cover some tips about the Default Options in a future blog post!