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SolidWorks Tips - How to Minimize Costly Materials in a High-Stress Environment

Minimizing use of expensive materials can greatly reduce overall cost of a design. Easier said than done! With components intended for use in a high-stress environment, designs must walk a razor's edge between functionality and reduced cost.

How do you find locations to remove the material? Can you guarantee the changes will not affect performance?

Traditional alternatives to minimizing design costs

Traditionally, engineers had three options for reducing the use of costly materials in designs intended for high-stress environments.

First, they could over-engineer components, and hope the finished component would function well in spite of the inefficient design.

Second, they could go with gut instinct and experience. Not an exact science by any means, but less expensive in the short term than an endless series of prototypes.

Third, develop expensive physical prototypes to field-test components. Go into mourning when prototypes fail and you're back where you started.

Reduce materials safely with design validation tools

Engineers with SolidWorks Simulation software have yet another option. Using design validation tools, they can visualize stress experienced by each component, and test variations without building physical prototypes.

SolidWorks motion and simulation tools help evaluate efficiency and strength of the design from within the CAD environment.

Motion tools and simulation tools allow you to see components in action or view stress forces acting on the design as a whole. Pressure intensity appears visually as color variations, which the user can customize.

You can get a more exact idea of whether the stress is too high by comparing stress in the model to the material yield of the components. The software can also help engineers see where material can be removed in places that have minimal stress.

Several tools are available to help engineers see places in the design that need material added or removed, based on safety factors and other variables.

Using SolidWorks Simulation software, you can minimize costly materials in a design without sacrificing quality and functionality of the finished components.

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