What happens when you overstrain your design? Does it bend, break or shatter? And how can you test for overstrain and avoid it?
When it comes to designing sustainable products, durability is crucial. It’s good to have control over your product design and it’s even nicer to have control over what happens if it breaks.
In the event of overstraining, you can ensure that the valuable components of your construction remain intact while the cheaper components take the damage. The result? You can replace the spare parts at a low cost – a win-win for the end user, your product and you.
If your product doesn’t work in the real world, it’s a failure.
➔ Tackle complex engineering challenges with SOLIDWORKS Simulation
Product knowledgement gives better control
We can show and create a better understanding on how much overstrain our product can endure by virtually testing our SOLIDWORKS geometry.
When I talk about having control over a design, the keyword is product knowledgement. The sooner you can get knowledge about materials, strengths, weaknesses and so on in your design, the sooner you can get control of your product and the expectations surrounding it.
With SOLIDWORKS Simulation you can test your construction for strain and overstrain, and get answers to questions like where is the product failing, where are the weakest areas, and what is the consequence of overstrain?
35% of engineers don’t test their designs
Mattias Robertsson, Senior Territory Technical Manager from SOLIDWORKS, held a webinar on simulation. He launched a quick poll asking how the attending engineers controlled the “Factor of Safety” in their designs. He specifically asked how they account for overstrain.
A safety factor (FoS) expresses how much stronger a system is than it needs to be for an intended load. Many systems are intentionally built much stronger than needed for normal usage to allow for emergency situations, unexpected loads, misuse or degradation. (Source: Wikipedia)
Many attendees used at least one testing method, but 35% didn’t test “Factor of Safety” in their designs at all.
When an unsustainable design goes all the way to the prototype stage or even into production, it can be very costly.
I don’t know if you are as surprised by this as me, but best-case scenario is that they are experienced when it comes to their product designs and that they therefore (hopefully) are sustainable.
Is there more to it than sustainability?
What if you could save your company loads of money by reducing the amount of material and still make a product that is sustainable?
There are two ways to work with strain:
- Resist the strain – you strengthen the weak spots, in order for all components or areas of the design to handle the strain.
- Built in weaknesses – you decide which components or areas within components need to brake when overstrained.
Let’s look at a couple of examples from the real world.
Resist the strain
To ensure that a seesaw on a playground never brakes, KOMPAN often designs it in such a manner that it can resist the strain from loads of children jumping around on it. In fact, in some cases it will even endure the strain of a bunch of playful adults – just in case.
This means, that calculations concerning the seesaw’s durability is made with a very high “Factor of Safety”, for the seesaw to always resist the strain.
KOMPAN is a Danish company specialized in playground solutions.
They use high quality materials to fulfil the highest quality standards and have a complete control over durability and safety.
Every year, 150 million people across the world play or train on one of KOMPAN’s playgrounds or training sites. Therefore, it is critical for KOMPAN to adhere to the absolute highest safety requirements for playgrounds.
“We never compromise with safety, and our choice of materials is of the highest quality when creating extremely durable and long-lasting solutions for all kinds of weather”. – KOPMAN
The mantra of KOMPAN’s design department is all about “Factor of Safety” and calculating strains in order to ensure highly durable and safe solutions.
Built in weaknesses
The principle behind this method is that instead of spending loads of money exchanging expensive components, you build in a weakness elsewhere in the construction in order to save money.
A good example of this is the propeller on an outboard motor. Here the design has a built-in pin that breaks before anything else breaks within the construction.
The pin is a good solution, because if it wasn’t built to break, it would mean that the entire boat would turn over in case the propeller hit something in the water – a much bigger worry and costly incident.
The same principle is also used when building aircraft engines. The engine is secured in four different places that all breaks and lets the engine go before the wing is torn off. This means that the aircraft can fly on safely, even after losing one engine. So, don’t worry if one engine fails while you’re flying; the design has accounted for it.
A toolbox that provides answers
SOLIDWORKS Simulation allows you to test a variety of aspects of your design before creating the first prototype. Aspects such as:
- Low stress areas
- Factor of Safety
- Lifetime (fatigue)
- Natural frequency
In other words, the toolbox in SOLIDWORKS Simulation gives you a much better and deeper insight of your design – and insights lead to better decisions!
Beyond the useful toolbox you also get control of important factors early in the design process. Factors such as:
- Dimensions and size
- Meeting requirement specifications
- Ideas and concepts
- Design decisions
- Design improvements
- Quality improvements
- Cost improvements