Altair Inspire Cast (formerly Click2Cast) software is a fast, easy, accurate and affordable casting simulation environment focused on creating high quality components with increased profitability through a highly intuitive user experience. The easy interface allows for both product designers as well as foundry engineers to execute and simulate casting scenarios. Inspire cast utilizes a simple meshing approach where parts are meshed and then run to obtain results. In this blog I am going to demonstrate some great tools to aid the meshing process in Inspire Cast.
One of the great things about Inspire Cast is how easy the meshing and setup process is for a scenario. After inputting the boundary conditions, the user just needs to click on the play button in the lower right corner of the “analyze run” icon and it will bring up the run analysis properties. At this point you will have two options for mesh criteria; you can either specify an average thickness or the element size. The general rule of thumb is to have at least two elements through thickness to have good accuracy for your system, and thus the sizing you choose should reflect this for either the average thickness or element size option.
Once you hit run, the system will bring up a status window which will show where the progress of the simulation. The analysis will start with the mesh process and then will jump to filling/solidification once meshing has successfully completed. The advantage of this process, is that meshing is done completely in the background and the user does not have to go through iterations of adjusting or locally refining the mesh.
However, if you do want to view the mesh you can load the Inspire Cast mesh file directly into Altair Simlab. Altair Simlab is a multi-physics simulation environment that can be utilized to solve a variety of physics applications including structural analysis, thermal analysis, and fluid dynamics. Simlab has extensive meshing capabilities, and thus is a great tool for us to look at our casting mesh, to determine if we have an accurate mesh. To open a mesh file in Simlab from Inspire Cast, the user can right click on the run status folder within Inspire Cast and then click on the Open Run Folder option.
Once you open this directory, you will see an option for a mesh file, and it will have the SimLab icon shown. If you double click on the mesh file, it will open the Inspire Cast mesh automatically into SimLab. Note for this to automatically open in SimLab, you must have Altair SimLab installed on your machine.
The casting mesh file will be read automatically into SimLab and as soon as the file loads into SimLab, you will see the mesh of the mold, the filling system, the cast part, and any other features you created in your Inspire Cast scenario. The great thing about SimLab, is that it has the same ribbon, controls and interface as Inspire Cast (i.e cross sectioning and geometry commands are identical in SimLab as they are in Inspire Cast). The first thing I do when I import a model into Simlab, is to create a cross section view to see how my mesh quality is across the mold, cast part, and filling systems. As you can see in the image below, through all bodies, I have at least two elements across thickness.
That said, the two-element threshold should not be the only criteria we utilize to determine if our mesh is an accurate mesh for an Inspire Cast simulation. For additional mesh accuracy, we can click on the Quality icon in SimLab (under the verify tab) and then do a quality check on all of our elements to determine an individual element’s aspect ratios, stretch, and other key information about an element’s quality. In our case we specify that we want to see the aspect ratio in our system. In meshing applications, the aspect ratio is a good value to check as it indicates where we could have heavily distorted elements (the higher the aspect ratio the more distorted the element). Most simulation analysts strive to have aspect ratios less than 10 to have a good baseline mesh for a system, and thus we will check to see if the majority of our elements have an aspect ratio less than 10.
Upon clicking the Quality Icon, it brings up a large box where we can specify various element quality quantities. Like I said previously, we are going to look at the aspect ratio plot, and we want to identify everywhere in the model where the aspect ratio is greater than 10. In our case, SimLab already tells us that our max aspect ratio is 7.054, thus if we select 10 then no elements would appear on the aspect ratio plot. Therefore, I key in an aspect ratio setting of 5 and hit display.
The mesh plot updates on the screen to show the aspect ratio plot and identifies all elements in yellow which are greater than 5. We can see on our plot that the inner diameters have these higher aspect ratio values. Through having the ability to view these results, the user can then go back to Inspire Cast, and make a better decision on how to adjust the element quality for an accurate casting simulation.
If you have any further questions about Altair Inspire Cast, please reach out to us to see how you can streamline your future casting processes.
Application Engineer, Simulation Specialist
Computer Aided Technology, Inc.