It’s Time to Collaborate! SOLIDWORKS Motion Study

   By Sarah Taylor on June 8, 2023

In our “It’s time to Collaborate” webinar series, our team of TriMech Application Engineers have been working together to design, assemble, and analyze a traditional mechanical alarm clock. In this episode, I connected to the 3DEXPERIENCE Platform to access our design data, opened the file in SOLIDWORKS, then went through two simple examples through a SOLIDWORKS Motion study.

Connecting to the 3DEXPERIENCE Platform

Our team has been using the 3DEXPERIENCE Platform as our centralized data management and collaboration system for this Clock Project. As a SOLIDWORKS user, connecting to the platform is easy. To start working on the Clock Assembly, all I need to do is drag the file out of the browser-based file storage, and drop it in my desktop SOLIDWORKS window. Once the file loads, the 3DEXPERIENCE task pane reports file information like revision, lock status, and owner.

Types of Motion Studies

In SOLIDWORKS, there are three “levels” of Motion Studies: Animation, Basic Motion, and Motion Analysis. Here is a brief overview of each one:

  • Animation:
    • Add motors to drive motion of components
    • Prescribe positions of components using key points
    • Does not account for mass or gravity
  • Basic Motion:
    • Approximate effects of motors, springs, contact between components, and gravity
    • Accounts for mass properties
  • Motion Analysis (Requires SOLIDWORKS Premium)
    • Accurately simulate the effects of forces, springs, dampers, friction using computationally strong kinematic solvers
    • Plot Simulation results

For more information about the differences between these study types, please review the SOLIDWORKS Help page: Introduction to Motion Studies 

Animation Example – Clock Hands Rotating

To show the clock hands rotating, I created a simple Animation. My goal was to show the Hours, Minutes, and Seconds hands moving at the correct ratio. The Second hand makes one rotation every minute, so that hand will need a speed of exactly 1 RPM. The Minute hand takes 60 minutes to complete a revolution (0.0167RPM), and the Hour hand completes 1 revolution every 12 hours (0.00139 RPM). For the sake of our animation, I scaled this up 10x so that their speeds were 10 RPM, 0.167 RPM, and 0.0139 RPM respectively.

SOLIDWORKS Motion study Defining the Rotary Motor parameters for the “Seconds” hand

Defining the Rotary Motor parameters for the “Seconds” hand

Before putting the hands in motion, I aligned them to the upright, 00:00 position. I then decided to create a motor for each hand, using their circular holes in the center as the “Motor Location”, and their speeds defined above as the “Constant Speed” input. I was careful to make sure the motor direction was pointing clockwise!

Motion Analysis Example – Motor and Hammer Interaction

To show some of the capabilities available in a Motion Analysis study, I decided to show how the Motor Spinner causes the Hammer on the top of the clock to move. The mechanism works as follows: 1) The Hammer is connected to a Plastic Mount, which sits on top of the Motor Spinner, 2) When the motor is turned on, the Spinner causes the Plastic mount to lift and lower, causing the Hammer to swing back and forth.

motor and hammer interaction

To set up this study, I first moved the Plastic Mount into a position hovering just above the Motor Spinner so that the two bodies were not interfering. Then I defined the motor, which I selected the cylindrical face of the hole on the Motor Spinner as the direction, and set the speed as 100 RPM. I also defined Solid Body contact between the Motor Spinner and the Plastic Mount (I just left the Material and Friction options as the default values). Lastly, I added Gravity to this study, making sure it was defined in the negative Y direction.

isolate feature

Specifying Solid Body Contact between the Hammer and Motor Spinner

In the animation below, we can see how the spinner rotating causes the hammer to move back and forth:

We can take this study to the next level by analyzing the contact forces between the Spinner and the Plastic Mount. In the animation below, the motor is increasing in speed from 50 RPM to 150 RPM. I have created a Result plot which shows the Contact Force on the face of the Plastic Mount that touches the Motor Spinner. The Result Plot shows spikes in the Reaction Force each time the spinner is on the “up-swing”. The magnitude of these spikes also increases as the speed of the motor increases over the duration of the 6 second study. The sudden drop in Force near the end of the animation could suggest that the Plastic Mount actually loses contact with the Spinner momentarily.

The powerful Animation and Motion Analysis tools in SOLIDWORKS can bring your models to life and provide a virtual way to test complex mechanisms in your assemblies. And by connecting to the 3DEXPERIENCE Platform, sharing CAD Data across your design team is simpler than ever. Be sure to check out the full on-demand Webinar here: Part 4 – It’s Time to Collaborate: SOLIDWORKS Motion Study.

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Sarah Taylor

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