Altair SimSolid, a revolution in design simulation

Everyone that tries Altair SimSolid for the first time invariably does it using the same methods learned from years of doing classical FEA.  They isolate a small group of parts, simplify the geometry, guess at some boundary loads/constraints and run the analysis. While that works fine, it does not expose Altair SimSolid’s most important benefit – being a large assembly simulation driven design tool.

Altair SimSolid’s unique ability to analyze CAD geometry directly without alteration means that structural performance simulation can be used in an entirely new way – and on a much larger scale. For the first time, rapid analysis of large assemblies with complete part detail is truly practical.  This provides exciting new possibilities in the product design process.

Market fit – Altair SimSolid versus traditional FEA

The systems development V-model is commonly used to summarize the product development process. Conceptual study and preliminary design is on the left, implementation in the middle and system verification & validation on the right.


Altair SimSolid best fits the conceptual & preliminary design phases where the design is rapidly evolving. Here our simulation-driven design methodology has its greatest impact. Altair SimSolid only takes minutes to setup and run. It can be used to quickly evaluate and optimize complex load paths on large assemblies, not just individual parts. Logical areas for weight reduction can be examined on a broad basis. Speed equals productivity and Altair SimSolid is fast enough to keep pace with the design process, even for assemblies with hundreds of parts. Working in this way, Altair SimSolid becomes an integral design tool that makes simulation-driven design possible.

The workflow of traditional FEA makes it much too complex to be used in this way. Simulation done only on simple parts provide too narrow of a view and larger assemblies are not practical due to the time required to both model and solve. Geometry cleanup and meshing is better done after the design envelope has been fixed. Therefore the best fit for FEA is in the verification and validation phases to the right side of the V-model.

Studies have shown that the overwhelming portion of total product life-cycle cost is determined by decisions made early in the product development process. It is estimated that engineering on the left side of the V-model consumes only about 4% of the program cost, but determines about 80% of the product life-cycle cost. The implications are tremendous and Altair SimSolid simulation can have a significant impact on the design and life-cycle cost.


Altair SimSolid as a design tool

To evaluate Altair SimSolid properly, you need to consider how it can fit into your design process. Here are a few points to consider.

  • Use the CAD geometry as is – Don’t waste time doing excessive part simplification. Altair SimSolid is capable of analyzing all geometric detail including fillets, rounds, holes, imprints and other small features. Even surface construction complexity such as odd face transitions and small splinter surfaces are OK to leave in unaltered.
  • Analyze all structural components at once – It is acceptable to leave in small parts such as bolts, nuts and washers. Even bolts with threads are OK. Altair SimSolid unique adaptive process will work efficiently on models with hundreds of parts. Altair SimSolid is tolerant of imprecise geometry. Its assembly connections are industry best at handling ragged contact surfaces.
  • Don’t merge assemblies – Altair SimSolid is created to be a large assembly solver. Merging parts, while common in traditional FEA, is not required. The additional time to do this is modeling time wasted and actually slows down the analysis process.

Altair SimSolid has been performance tuned to analyze complex parts and large assemblies not practical with traditional FEA and do it efficiently on a desktop class computer.  The result is that for the first time, simulation-driven design is really practical – analysis can now be used early and often to evaluate every design change.

Customer example

Serapid are makers of rigid chain technology and the world’s leader in the mechanical transfer of heavy loads.

Serapid’s incumbent method of using FEA consisted of an extraction and analysis of a few representative parts to try to understand their effect on the overall structural performance. Even with this simple representation, the model creation was non-trivial. Time constraints meant analysis was only used to validate the final design which had limited effect on driving design improvement.


With Altair SimSolid, Serapid was able to set up and analyze their entire (870+ part) assembly in minutes. Load paths were easier to determine and the effect of design changes could be more rapidly understood. Many design iterations were analyzed and the result was a more optimal lightweight, cost efficient, structure.

Try Altair SimSolid for yourself

Want to find out more? Check out our white papers: Two are available. The first gives a general overview of what Altair SimSolid is, where it can be used and how it is unique. The second is a deeper dive into the technical details behind Altair SimSolid. Warning, equations are included.

Try Altair SimSolid for yourself. A free trial is available here. As you do, think about the new ways that performance simulation can be used. Use it during your preliminary design process. Simulate a large assembly and see the speed, flexibility and insight that Altair SimSolid provides. Go beyond what you currently do with traditional FEA. We think you agree that Altair SimSolid is an exciting new way to do performance simulation.

Ken Welch
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Ken Welch

About Ken Welch

Ken was the cofounder and CEO at SIMSOLID corporation. He has over 30 years experience in the CAE industry in a variety of technical, sales and executive roles at companies including PDA Engineering, Rasna, Moldflow and MSC Software. Ken holds a B.S. and M.S. in civil engineering from the University of California, Davis.