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    Tutorial: Electromagnetics Simulation on a Linear Pushing Solenoid

    This tutorial showcases how to use SimScale to run an electromagnetics simulation on a Linear Pushing Solenoid, where the objective is to achieve the linear pushing force of the solenoid.

    Linear Pushing Solenoid Opening Image
    Figure 1: Magnetic field of a Linear Pushing Solenoid


    This tutorial teaches how to:

    • Setup and run an electromagnetics simulation;
    • Create external flow region ;
    • Assign multiple materials, and other properties to the simulation;
    • Mesh with the automatic standard meshing algorithm.

    We are following the typical SimScale workflow:

    1. Prepare the CAD model for the simulation;
    2. Set up the simulation;
    3. Create the mesh;
    4. Run the simulation and analyze the results.

    1. Prepare the CAD Model and Select the Analysis Type

    To begin, click on the button below. It will copy the tutorial project containing the geometry into your Workbench.

    The following picture demonstrates what is visible after importing the tutorial project.

    Linear Pushing Solenoid Open Simulation
    Figure 2: Imported CAD Model of a linear pushing solenoid model

    The geometry consists of a linear actuating solenoid. It consists of multiple parts as can be observed in the scene tree.

    1.1 Geometry Preparation

    The geometry for this tutorial is not ready for electromagnetic simulations. It contains multiple solid parts. We need a single flow volume region for setting up the simulation.

    To create a flow volume click on the ‘Edit in CAD mode’ icon to enter the CAD mode.

    Linear Pushing Solenoid Open Edit in CAD Mode
    Figure 3: Open the Solenoid CAD in the CAD mode to create the external flow volume.

    In the CAD mode follow the steps below as shown in Figure 4 to create the external flow volume.

    1. Select the external flow volume tool
    2. Apply with the default Box dimensions.
    Linear Pushing Solenoid External Flow Region
    Figure 4: External flow volume operation to create the air domain around the Solenoid.

    Notice that there is a new volume entity called Flow region under the parts list at the very end (see Figure 5). Use the ‘Save as copy’ button to bring this new geometry back to the Workbench.

    Linear Pushing Solenoid Export Flow Region
    Figure 5: Save the new part as a copy to export this part back into the Workbench.

    The modified geometry (with the Flow region) will appear under Geometries as a copy of the original valve geometry.

    1.2 Create the Simulation

    Click on the new geometry ‘Copy of Magnetic Lifting Machine’, rename it to “Flow Region SOLENOID” and hit the ‘Create Simulation’ button, to start the simulation setup process.

    Linear Pushing Solenoid Create Simulation
    Figure 6: Rename the new part for better visibility.

    This will open the simulation type selection widget:

    Linear Pushing Solenoid Select Electromagnetics
    Figure 7: Select the ‘Electromagnetics’ solver to start a new electromagnetics simulation.

    Choose Electromagnetics as the analysis type and ‘Create Simulation’.

    At this point, the simulation tree will be visible in the left-hand side panel.

    2. Pre-Processing: Setting up the Simulation

    2.1 Define Materials

    This simulation will begin with air present in the flow region. Then we will assign copper, plastic, and metal to the solid bodies. Therefore, this simulation will use four materials. To start assigning, click on the ‘+ button’ next to Materials. In doing so, the SimScale fluid material library opens, as shown in the figure below:

    magnetic lifting machine electromagnetics tutorial simscale
    Figure 8: Library of available fluid materials in SimScale. Select Air as the material.

    Select Air and click ‘Apply’. This means air will be recognized by the flow region throughout the simulation. Keep the default values, and assign the entire Flow region to it (if not already by default).

    Linear Pushing Solenoid Air Material
    Figure 9: Assign the Flow region from the Geometry panel, or select it from the viewer.

    Repeat the same procedure for the material ‘Copper’ and assign it to the coils. Hide the Flow region such that the coils are visible Figure 10. Now assign the material to ‘coil_1_half’ and ‘coil_2_half’.

    Linear Pushing Solenoid Cooper Material
    Figure 10: Hide the flow region, by selecting the eye icon in the geometry tree.

    For the plastic core, a custom material needs to be created. To do this create a new material and select ‘Steel’. Change the name of the material to ‘Plastic’ and adjust the Electric conductivity to ‘0’ \(S/m)\. Lastly, assign the core to the newly created material.

    Linear Pushing Solenoid Plastic Material
    Figure 11: Non-magnetic non-conductive material definition for the plastic core.

    Lastly, repeat the process to create a new custom material for the metal of the case and the plunger. Again create a steel material and adjust the name to ‘Metal’. Let the behavior be Soft Magnetic. Adjust the Electric conductivity to ‘3.82e+7’ \(S/m)\. To accurately model the magnetic permeability, change the type to ‘Nonlinear Isotropic’, and assign the following B/H Curve. As a last step assign the case and the plunger to the metal material.

    Linear Pushing Solenoid Metal Material
    Figure 12: Custom material setting for a non-linear magnetic permeability.

    Please find the B/H curve for the metal material below. Figure 13 shows the assigned material table as well as the B/H curve.

    Linear Pushing Solenoid Plastic Material
    Figure 13: Material table window for the custom B/H Curve with curve display

    2.2 Assign the Coils

    Under Coils in the simulation tree, create a new closed coil. To specify the internal port of the coil it has been cut into two halves, thus both halves are assigned in a single coil setting. Assign the ‘Coil_1_half’ and ‘Coil_2_half’ to bodies. Please select an inner face and change the respective values as shown in Figure 14. Please set the values for Topology, Number of turns, Wire diameters, and (I) Current.

    Linear Pushing Solenoid create Coil
    Figure 14: Setting for the closed coil in SimScale electromagnetics simulation

    Tool Tip

    By right-clicking on the inside face of the two coils you can use the assign other option to select the hidden inside face of the coil without the need to hide one of the coil parts. More tips and tricks on the selection tools within SimScale can be found here.

    2.3 Assign the Boundary Conditions

    There is no need to assign boundary conditions for this simulation.

    2.4 Result Control

    Result control allows you to observe the convergence behavior globally as well as at specific locations in the model during the calculation process. Hence, it is an important indicator of the simulation quality and the reliability of the results. Remember to toggle on ‘Calculate Inductances’ under Result control.

    a. Forces and Torques

    For this simulation, set a ‘Forces and torques’ control on the plunger. Click on the ‘+’ icon under Result control> Forces and torques to open the settings panel. Select the ‘Pick center of the current selection’ tool to set the Torque Reference Point.

    Linear Pushing Solenoid Force Report Setup
    Figure 15: Force and Moment report for the plunger.

    2.5 Numerics and Simulation Control

    The Numerics and Simulation control for this simulation, are optimised with their default values and need not be altered.

    3. Mesh

    To create the mesh, we recommend using the Automatic mesh algorithm, which is a good choice in general as it is quite automated and delivers good results for most geometries.

    In this tutorial, a mesh fineness level of 8 will be used. If you wish to undertake a mesh refinement study, you can increase the fineness of the mesh by sliding the Fineness slider to higher refinement levels or using the region refinements.

    Linear Pushing Solenoid Mesh Fineness 8
    Figure 16: Automatic mesh settings with mesh fineness 8.

    In addition to the mesh fineness of level 8, the plunger, case, and core, will have a region refinement of ‘0.5’ \(mm\). To do this create a new region refinement and assign the parts as shown in Figure 17.

    Linear Pushing Solenoid Mesh Region Refinement
    Figure 17: Mesh Region refinement for the plunger, case, and core parts.

    Did you know?

    The automesher creates a body-fitted mesh which captures most regions of interest using physics based meshing.

    4. Start the Simulation

    Now you can start the simulation. Click on the ‘+’ icon next to Simulation Runs. This opens up a dialogue box where you can name your run and ‘Start’ the simulation.

    Start Simulation
    Figure 18: Start the simulation and optionally, change the name of the run.

    While the results are being calculated you can already have a look at the intermediate results in the post-processor by clicking on ‘Solution Fields’ or ‘Post-process results’. They are being updated in real time! Once finished access the online post-processor as indicated in Figure 19.

    Open Post Processing
    Figure 19: Open the SimScale post-processor to visually inspect the results.

    5. Post-Processing

    5.1 Solution Field

    Once inside the post-processor, you can first investigate the magnetic flux density. To do this toggle the cutting plane off and hide the Flow Region, Coil_1_half, Coil_2_half, as well as the core by clicking on the eye icon.

    Post-Processing Flux Density
    Figure 20: Magnetic flux density through the casing and the plunger.

    In order to visualize the magnetic field around the part, turn the visualization of the cutting plane back on. Here activate the vectors option and switch the vector field to the ‘Magnetic field’. Next, change the scale factor to ‘0.02’ and adjust the lower slider for clamping to 90 %. Lastly, turn the opacity of the cutting plane to ‘0’ so that only the vectors are left visible.

    More spaced-out lines signify lower densities. The direction of the lines illustrates the path a positive charge would take. The continuous nature of these lines indicates the uninterrupted flow of current.

    Post-Processing magnetic Field
    Figure 21: Magnetic field vectors of the solenoid

    5.2 Forces and Torques on the Load

    The Forces and torques results are of particular interest in the simulation. From the earlier-created result control item, the forces and moments acting on the plunger can be seen in the table in Figure 22. In this case, the axial force on the plunger is 0.136 \(N\).

    Post-Processing force report
    Figure 22: Force and moment report for the linear pushing solenoid

    Analyze your results further with the SimScale post-processor. Have a look at our post-processing guide to learn how to use the post-processor.


    If you have questions or suggestions, please reach out either via the forum or contact us directly.

    Last updated: May 16th, 2024