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    Tutorial: Linear Static Analysis of a Crane

    This article provides a step-by-step tutorial for a linear static analysis of a crane.

    von Mises stress distribution of a crane simulated with simscale
    Figure 1: Post-processing contours on a crane structure.

    This tutorial teaches how to:

    • Set up and run a linear static analysis of a crane.
    • Assign boundary conditions, material, and other properties to the simulation.
    • Mesh with the SimScale 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

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

    After that, the empty project will be imported into your Workbench. The following picture demonstrates what should be visible after importing the tutorial project.

    view of workbench with crane model inside the workbench
    Figure 2: Overview of the Workbench after importing the crane tutorial base project.

    1.1 Create the Simulation

    Firstly, you can create a new simulation by clicking the ‘Create Simulation’ button in the geometry dialog box.

    geometry dialog box showing how to create a new simulation run in simscale
    Figure 3: Geometry dialog box.

    At this point, the simulation type widget will pop up:

    simscale simulation library showing selection for statlic simulation
    Figure 4: SimScale supports a wide range of physics. This tutorial consists of a ‘Static’ analysis.

    We will select the ‘Static’ analysis type for this simulation.

    After selecting the analysis type, the simulation tree will appear. This shows you the settings that we will need to define before starting a new simulation.

    simulation tree of a linear static simulation in simscale
    Figure 5: New simulation tree

    Now, you are ready to set up the linear static analysis of the crane model.

    2. Simulation Settings

    Before running the simulation, we will need to define the following important settings:

    • Direction of gravity
    • Material of the crane
    • Boundary conditions

    2.1 Direction of Gravity

    The magnitude and direction of gravity highly affect the result of the simulation, because the crane’s weight is a noticeable load already. You can define the magnitude and direction of gravity by clicking on ‘Model’ in the simulation tree.

    the gravity magnitude settings in simscale platform
    Figure 6: Gravity settings are defined based on the orientation cube.

    In this case, the Gravity magnitude is 9.81 \(m/s^2\) and the Gravity direction is in the negative y-direction.

    2.2 Define a Material

    You will also need to define the material of your crane. You can choose a material by clicking on ‘Materials’ in the simulation tree. The solid materials library opens, as in the image below:

    material library of simscale and steel is selected for static linear simulation
    Figure 7: SimScale’s solid materials library

    For this simulation, please select ‘Steel’ and confirm by pressing ‘Apply’.

    material assigned to geometry
    Figure 8: Steel material assigned to the crane model

    Since this geometry contains a single volume, the crane is automatically assigned to the material. You can proceed by clicking on the check icon to save. It is worth noting that you can define a custom material by changing the material properties, and it’s also possible to give a new name to your material.

    2.3 Assign the Boundary Conditions

    Boundary conditions play a key role in simulations – They define the physical conditions that you want to analyze in your design. In this simulation, we will apply fixed support and force boundary conditions. The image below provides an overview of the physics:

    boundary conditions that are used for linear static simulation on a crane
    Figure 9: Boundary conditions overview for this simulation

    The next steps will show you how to assign each boundary condition.

    a. Fixed Support

    Firstly, you can define a new boundary condition by clicking on the ‘+ button’ next to Boundary conditions. A list shows up with multiple options – choose ‘Fixed support’ for the first boundary condition.

    steps to select fixed support boundary condition for linear static simulation
    Figure 10: Boundary condition list for a linear static simulation

    After that, a dialog box of the fixed support boundary condition will show up. Here, you will only need to assign the fixed support faces.

    fixed support boundary condition placed at  three faces of the foundation of the crane for linear static simulation
    Figure 11: Fixed support boundary condition.

    b. Force

    Follow the same steps, this time create a ‘Force’ boundary condition.

    -100 kn force boundary condiiton applied at the top of a crane model for a linear static simulation
    Figure 12: Force boundary condition, taking into account the orientation cube.

    We will define our force to be -1e5 N in the y-direction, observing the orientation cube.


    No changes were made for the Numerics and Result control settings for this tutorial as default settings will be sufficient.

    3. Mesh

    To create the mesh, we will use the standard algorithm, which is automated and delivers good results for most geometries.

    No changes in the default settings are needed. For linear static simulations, SimScale creates 2nd order meshes by default, which increases the accuracy of the analysis.

    mesh settings crane tutorial
    Figure 13: Mesh dialog box

    Why 2nd Order Elements?

    Here is an article on why 2nd-order elements are recommended and which finite element type you should use: Which type of finite element should I use?

    Furthermore, the order of a mesh can be defined under the element technology tab.

    The resulting mesh looks like this:

    mesh of a crane using the standard meshing algorithm in simscale
    Figure 14: Mesh of the crane model

    Related Meshing Knowledge Base Articles

    Here are additional knowledge base articles that you can read regarding meshing:

    4. Start the Simulation

    You can start a simulation run by clicking on the ‘+ button’ next to Simulation runs.

    simulation tree of simscale with steps on how to start a new simulation run
    Figure 15: Steps to start a new simulation run.

    At this point, you will be shown a dialog box containing an estimate of the computing resource that will be spent to run your simulation. You can proceed by pressing ‘Start’.

    5. Post-Processing

    After the simulation run has finished computing, you can access the results by one of two methods:

    access online post-processor linear static analysis crane
    Figure 16: The two ways to access the online post-processor in SimScale
    1. Click on ‘Solution fields’ under the simulation run, or
    2. Click on the ‘Post-process results’ button in the run dialog.

    When you have been directed to the post-processor, you can start analyzing your results. For this tutorial, we will show the von Mises stress and the deformation of the crane.

    5.1 Von Mises Stress

    To analyze the von Mises stress on the crane structure, make sure that ‘von Mises Stress’ is defined under Parts Color:

    stress results linear static analysis crane
    Figure 17: Von Mises stress distribution in the crane due to the applied loads

    It can be seen that the highest stress levels occur close to the free end of the crane, where the force boundary condition is applied. There is also a high-stress region next to the top fixed support face.

    5.2 Displacement

    Since deformation is also important in stress analysis, we can visualize both the von Mises stress and displacement at the same time. The displacement settings can be changed under the Displacement filter:

    create displacement plot linear static analysis crane
    Figure 18: Steps to create the displacement plot, used to visualize the deformed shape of the crane

    Since the displacements of the crane are very small, it’s possible to scale them up to obtain a better visualization. In the image above, the displacements have a Scaling factor of ’50’.

    Now, to see the actual displacement values, we can also adjust the Parts Color to ‘Displacement Magnitude’:

    deformation scale factor linear static analysis crane
    Figure 19: Location of the Scaling factor parameter in the Filters panel

    As expected, the free end of the crane undergoes the largest deformations, based on the initial position. The total maximum displacement due to the weight of the structure and the applied force is roughly 4 millimeters in this scenario.

    Congratulations! You finished the tutorial!


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

    Last updated: September 18th, 2023

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