Midplane meshing

Algor has released a new midplane meshing feature that automatically heals gaps inherent in midplane extraction. The midplane meshing feature converts thin, solid parts, such as car body panels, into plate/shell elements using the midpoint of the surface elements. This significantly reduces the number of elements in the model and allows engineers to take advantage of the faster processing speeds associated with plate/shell elements.

‘The release of the midplane meshing feature adds a new dimension in flexibility for engineers modelling thin-walled objects with a combination of solid and plate/shell elements,’ said Michael L. Bussler, president of Algor. ‘What sets this feature apart from the competition is that it automatically heals the gaps that inevitably occur during midplane extraction to ensure an accurate finite element analysis (FEA). Other programs often require the user to heal the gaps manually.’

Gaps often occur during midplane extraction in the areas of the model where intersecting surfaces are moved from their original location to another location. Loads will not transmit throughout the part when these gaps exist between the elements in a mesh. However, the development of Algor’s midplane meshing feature brings further robust modelling capabilities to the industry within Algor’s InCAD family of products by automatically filling in these gaps. Now engineers have more flexibility when choosing elements since midplanemeshing more fully accounts for the many modelling situations engineers encounter.

Prior to this industry development, few choices existed for engineers desiring to reduce the number of elements in thin-walled models. Engineers could mesh thin parts using solid elements, which resulted in an unnecessarily large number of elements for analysis. They could also select surfaces manually within some CAD solid modellers for midplane extraction and fill in the gaps themselves. Either way, it was a time-consuming process and could be prone to error.

To take advantage of this new Algor software feature, an engineer need only specify a thickness. Any plate-like regions of the model or assembly thinner than that thickness are automatically converted to plate/shell elements. The software assigns the generated plate/shell elements the appropriate thickness and automatically places them at the midplane of the solid regions they replace.

Algor customers with current technical support and maintenance agreements can request a complete software update, including the new midplane meshing capabilities through Algor’s web sites (www.algor.com and www.feaincad.com) or an Algor account representative. The midplane meshing feature will ship in May with Algor’s Integrator modelling level package and the InCAD family of products. All of Algor’s software product line is available for the Windows 95, 98, NT, and 2000 operating systems.