Mesh Refinements Near Discontinuities
Last Updated: May 10 2013, By:LB
Error plots show how well the complexity of a mesh matches the complexity of the model. Once the mesh matches the complexity of the model, the reported error is low. As a guideline, Pressure Vessel Engineering uses 5% error as an acceptance criterion.
This report examines the accuracy of stress results near an area of discontinuity as the mesh is refined. The 5% error criteria estimates the errors in the mesh except in areas of very low stress located near high stress areas. These areas are not usually of interest in a pressure vessel study.
In this study, stresses are measured at 5 fixed locations in a simple shape as the mesh size is changed. The stress errors predicted by the error function are compared with ultimate stress predicted from mesh refinement. SolidWorks Simulation Designer 2008 SP5.0 FEA software is used for this report using 2nd order shell elements.
The SolidWorks Simulation Error function will not work for all locations on a model. For this model, the error results for Point 2 – a low stress area adjacent to a high stress area – were found to be not useable (the reported stress was too low vs. the real stress). Areas of low stress like this would not normally be of interest in a pressure vessel study.
As a guideline, at Pressure Vessel Engineering we use caution when viewing results at a node when there are elements within 1 node that have errors over 5%.
Point 5 – the sharp corner – never achieved an acceptable error level of 5% or less. The theoretical stress at a sharp corner is infinite. As the mesh size was reduced, the stress followed a curve towards infinity. The error function correctly showed that the results for that node were never usable.
In spite of the presence of Point 5 on the model – which theoretically reaches infinity – the stress values at the other locations settled along a smooth trendline towards an ultimate finite value. For these remaining locations, the error function predicted error results of 2/3 the actual final error. (Other reports have shown true errors of less than the predicted error.)
With these limitations in mind, the error function is a useful predictor of the accuracy of the calculated results without the need to run multiple mesh size runs. The error function checks the results for entire models vs. mesh refinement which only validates the actual points under study.