Slip Slidin’ Away! Modifying Friction Coefficients During a Mechanical Simulation

There are situations in which it may be necessary to tweak friction coefficient in a nonlinear contact analysis during the simulation. Currently, the Ansys Workbench GUI does not support this capability directly; however, it is possible to vary the friction coefficient using a command object.

The Ansys documentation has several references of doing this as listed under the Help section; Mechanical APDL > Material Reference > Nonlinear Material Properties > Contact Friction as shown below.

This section on the documentation describes defining contact friction using TB,FRIC which is a material property used with current technology contact elements. It can be used to define coefficient of friction for both isotropic or orthotropic friction models. It further discusses varying friction coefficient in a multiple load step scenario, as well as implementing user defined friction  using TB,FRIC with TBOPT = USER.

The example presented here will show how to use commands object within Workbench to vary friction coefficient. The friction coefficient is defined via the TB,FRIC command. To define the friction that is function of temperature, time, normal pressure, sliding distance, etc. you can use the TBFIELD command in conjunction with the TB,FRIC. In this example presented, the friction is varied with time (to simulate it’s change through the load step).

Below is a graphic of the nonlinear contact between the Aluminum housing and steel ring gear.


The command object used to modify friction as a function of time is shown below.

This command object uses the information in the table below to modify friction :

Time                Friction Coefficient
0                      0
0.2                  0.1
0.4                  0.3
0.6                  0
0.8                  0.15
1                      0

As an example of the friction can vary, notice the friction coefficient is zero for time = 0.6 and time = 1.0.

During the run, the output controls under Analysis Settings was set to Yes for Nodal Forces, Contact Miscellaneous and General Miscellaneous.

A quick look at the contact results confirms our findings. The contour plot for contact friction stress shows zero results for time = 0.6 and 1 which m

Another sanity check is to check for reaction force through the frictional contact with the extraction method set to contact element option; this also reveals zero (nearly zero reaction force at these time points). The very small discrepancy noted on the reaction force is due to a few overlapping nodes on a boundary condition.

Transferring Deformed Geometry Between Ansys Applications

Often there is a need to export the deformed geometry from Ansys Mechanical. Possibly to a 3D printer to show to customers, or maybe a new CAD geometry file is needed that can be used for drawings or further design evaluation. Ansys Mechanical offers two options for users for doing this task.

Exporting STL (Standard Tessellation Language) files from the deformed results is one option. The STL file may be opened within Ansys Discovery and reverse engineered to create deformed solid geometry from the STL facets.

I have posted a YouTube video that demonstrates this technique. In the video, I have a rubber cushion that is compressed between two metal plates as shown. The rubber geometry gets deformed and the goal here is to export the deformed faceted geometry and create smooth solid geometry from that.

Ansys Mechanical can also export a deformed geometry in a proprietary PMDB (Part Manager Database) format which can be opened up within Ansys Discovery and modified further, or it can simply be opened up within Mechanical for further analysis.

I have also posted a YouTube video that shows how to work with this PMDB file format. In this video, we transfer the deformed geometry shown above from a previously solved FEA and then link its Solution cell to the Model cell of a new Static Structural block.


Tricks for Producing Averaged Results for Surfaces or Volumes in Ansys Mechanical

Occasionally it may be a requirement to report average values of stress or strain from an ANSYS Mechanical analysis. There are tricks to do this either for a group of nodes/elements on a face or elements within a specific volume.

Depending on the requirement, the goal may be to simply report either :

– “Average” stresses on a face (based on nodes)
– “Average” stresses on a face (based on elements)
– “Average” stresses on a volume (based on elements)

Technique 1 : Reporting weighted area average nodal stress

This can be done by implementing the macro in a command object as shown. The weighted area average nodal stress on the surface is reported under the details of the command (in the red circle below) with the parameter named “my_ave_stress1”.

The contents of the command object can be downloaded here.

Note: The surface chosen to do the averaging is defined as named selection ‘Face_01’ (used in the macro). In this technique the weighted averaging is done by calculating area apportioned to the nodes, and multiplied with the corresponding stress values for those nodes, and then summed up, and then we divide that sum by total area of nodes.

Technique 2 : Reporting weighted volume or area average element stress

DRD recommends doing element averaging that is weighted based on volume. This can be done with a command object (shown below) and you can download it here.


If the goal is to use the element area to do the averaging, then there is a technique for this as well. This method is written for 3d solid elements belonging to the ANSYS 18x series solid elements such as : 185 (dropped midside node bricks), 186 (20 node bricks), 187 (10 node tets).

In this technique, you define the surface using a named selection (Face_01). You will additionally create a remote point referenced to that named selection. This is a clever trick, since in a solid 3d mesh, it is not directly possible to know the area of the element face easily. By creating a remote point, we are creating contact/target elements which are then tagged to the solid elements overlaid on that surface, and the area of contacts gives us the area of the solid element faces which can then be used for the element averaging.

This can be done by implementing the command object as shown. The content of the command object can be downloaded here.

The weighted area average element stress on the surface is reported under the details of the command as shown with the parameter named “My_average_elemstress_face”.

Note: If you are running a SOLID 185, 186 or 187, you need to specify that in the command snippet as highlighted below.  In this technique, the weighted averaging is done by calculating area of the elements, multiplied with the corresponding stress values for those elements, summed up, and then we divide that sum by total area of elements.

DRD recommends you test these techniques on a simple part first before attempting on a larger model, and be sure to do the necessary sanity checks to ensure results are accurate.