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Onshape toosl for model prep for CAE analysis?

Hello All,
My first post. I do analysis work for hire. I do a lot of FEA, CFD, & MBD. I have a CAD tool (SWX) that I use in conjunction with CAE pre processors to enable the construction of geometry for CAE models. I am wondering where Onshape is in its development of its tool set, in having tools that would be as good or better than my current CAD tool. I am going to provide a list and I am wondering if Onshape has functions that do what I need and I am hoping people can tell me if these can be done effectively or not. My main metric is effort hours to answer so I am always looking to get the labor number down in what I do. Things I need to do in a CAD system include, in no particular order:
1 - reparameterize fillets off imported dumb solid models for selective suppression
2- reparameterize small holes off imported dumb solids  for selective suppression
3- reparameterize small chamfers off imported dumb solids  for selective suppression
4- build a mid surface representation from an imported solid - this would include offset surface (and use say a mid point of an edge for the location would be really handy), copy surface (no offset), trim, untrim, extend, delete and patch, N-sided patch, lofts, sweeps, and other similar surface tools.
5- select bodies by volume or other specifiable criteria for mass grouping or suppression in assemblies.
6-interrogate a model/assemble for small gaps between bodies, interference's, etc.
7- export tight surface models - I tired this using the IGES export to get into ABAQUS/CAE - worked pretty well but not perfect. Any tools to tweak this? it would be nice if a non-manifold surface geometry could be confirmed "tight" on export - I know this tough and its also depends on the importing software on how it shows up. Solids tend to import with little effort complex surfaces sets are a completely different kettle of fish.
8 -re-mate or move components in assemblies of imported dumb solids to get the arrangement/contact/gap I want.
9 take a sheet metal CAD part -typically in the right before you weld it state - and turn it into the "as welded" state as that is what is needed in CAE). Easily fill in rips, connect edges - that sort of thing.
10- import any and all file types but primarily solids and surfaces and sometimes sketch entities - both 2D and 3D.
11- measure and label key dimensions for later use/display.
12 - annotations - making a picture of say surface geometry and being able to easily see shell thicknesses as just an annotation or maybe by color them by a thickness attribute assignment (still want surfaces).
13- export formats for CAE programs - the usual suspects work here - step, asic, parasolid, igs, etc.

Best Answer


  • konstantin_shiriazdanovkonstantin_shiriazdanov Member Posts: 1,221 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited December 2017
    there is a SIMSOLID CAE and they declare that their product doesn't requare all that model preparation work because it doesn't use meshes. i think @KenWelch could give you some more information
  • Bill_McEachernBill_McEachern Member Posts: 3
    @konstntin....I have chatted with Ken but his product does not support all the analysis procedures I require and most of my customers have never heard of it  - it would matter to some of them that have very high value products and feel better with some reputational confidence. On the other hand it does look pretty interesting from an effort hour to answer perspective. 

    @philip_thomas ...thanks for the response. I will make an attempt to figure out some of those things and see how Onshape performs for me. You response in no #4 I don't understand but am hopeful your automation comment applies and I am hoping you would not mind elaborating a bit further - I am not expecting an autogeneration of a mid surface from some arbitrary solid -  that would seem a bit miraculous to hope for given that some decisions on how one goes about formulating the approximating surface representation are best decided by an analyst. I was asking if the surfacing tools are there that would enable one to extract one in a more or less manual operation with some expectation of a robust outcome (that is to say you put in the work and you will get a surface that can be "tight" or made tight without massive amounts of grief in the target system (yes that does leave an avenue on the outcome beyond Onshape's control but a good effort would probably suffice). Obviously surfaces are supported as I have imported one already as a test. I did not see the surfacing tools nor did I explore the tool set. The purpose of my post was to get some confidence that if I put in the effort to explore those what sort of level of satisfaction/success would I get if I did. The best way to answer this might be in comparison to say SolidWorks and its surfacing tools that can be used for the same thing. On this I am not referring to the SolidWorks mid surface tool which in my view is essentially useless. Since the provenance of both codes is similar in some respects that might be easy for you to answer. I find the SolidWorks tools set can get the job done but I would say the interface is sub optimal in terms of productivity, some of the routines are far from robust and the resulting surface can not even be exported and then re imported without significant numbers of errors reported by the import diagnostic tool- this applies to any format you chose other than native. As might be obvious I am some what  motivated to find a better tool but time is precious.
  • Bill_McEachernBill_McEachern Member Posts: 3
    So I took a look at the surfacing tools: I could not find the following functions it could certainly be lack of familiarity:
    -extend surface
    -trim surface
    -untrim surface
    Do they exist? If so a hint maybe?
  • KenWelchKenWelch Member, Developers Posts: 22 PRO

    Before you comment on my product, it is probably best that you provide full disclosure on what/who you represent: "Redstone Six Consulting Ltd. advises and assists our clients with the effective and productive adoption of simulation technologies and simulation related services. We help our clients devise tailored solutions to solve their engineering challenges in effective and creative ways. We are an authorized reseller of Dassault Systemes Simulia brand of analysis products."


    SVP & Co-founder SimSolid  |  Altair Engineering Inc.
    twitter: @ken_welch  |  web: www.altair.com/simsolid
  • philip_thomasphilip_thomas Member, Moderator, Onshape Employees, Developers Posts: 1,381
    @Bill_McEachern - There are either directly, or analogs for, capabilities for extend/trim/untrim surfaces.

    If you are looking for the 'surfacing toolbar' or the 'CAE prep' toolbar - you won't find them.
    These capabilities are pervasive throughout Onshape and include custom features (eg extend/radiate surface).

    To get the most out of Onshape (and specifically for this task), you will need training and experience.

    If you are looking for a Professional solution, please reach out to us and we can work with you to get the training you would need.

    If you are pressed for time, now might not be the best time to evaluate Onshape - it's incredibly powerful, but you will simply not 'see' the tools or workflows that you are looking for (especially for a specialized application).

    We are happy to engage with you when you have more time.
    Philip Thomas - Onshape
  • MBartlett21MBartlett21 Member, OS Professional, Developers Posts: 2,031 EDU
    edited December 2018

    You should be able to use opEdgeChange or opExtendSheetBody for trimming or extending your surface
    mb - draughtsman - also FS author: View FeatureScripts
    IR for AS/NZS 1100
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