ANSYS ACT Extension: FEMFAT inside ANSYS
The ACT Extension FEMFAT inside ANSYS was developed by DESIGNTEC for our customer Engineering Center Steyr GmbH & Co KG, the developer of FEMFAT – a software program for the fatigue analysis of statically and/or dynamically loaded components or complete systems. Modules of FEMFAT enable analysis of the fatigue life or endurance safety of components subjected to proportional loading, multiaxial loading in time or frequency domain or combination of thermal and mechanical loading.
FEMFAT has already its own interfaces for stress results processing from frequently used software tools for FE-Analysis, however the handling of data exchange is not automated and the user is obliged to use two independent software environments. Such way of usage brings inefficiency into the automated product development process, which typically incorporates parametric CAD model, FE-Analysis, fatigue assessment and optimization.
The aim of the project was such seamless integration of FEMFAT into simulation environment of ANSYS with that the fatigue assessment becomes a standard part of an automated simulation workflow.
Implementation and Used Technology
ANSYS simulation software offers ACT (Application Customization toolkit) a powerful package of tools that enable users to customize ANSYS products. ACT provides simple programming level access to the main components of ANSYS products via a IronPython or C# programming environment. An ACT extension can be complied from the source code and can be shared with other ANSYS users.
ACT was used for integration of FEMFAT in both ANSYS environments: ANSYS Workbench (integration into simulation workflows) and ANSYS Mechanical (integration into environment for structural analysis). In Workbench environment custom analysis systems can be defined based on the predefined templates provided by ACT. These templates can be easily customized and integrated into the process workflow. The workflow callbacks of customized analysis systems have to be programed to perform custom behaviour such as specialized data exchange, application synchronization or call of an external solver. The example of process workflow with FEMFAT systems is shown in Figure 3.
FEMFAT analysis system integrated into the process workflow in Workbench is automatically added to the tree outline in Mechanical environment. ACT objects were added into the tree outline to provide user with a graphical interface for setup of material data, time histories, surface treatment, analysis settings as well as displaying of results. As well as for analysis systems in workflow, so for the ACT objects in ANSYS Mechanical, callbacks to perform specific actions, as validation of user input, displaying of object specific data in model or evaluation of results, had to be programmed. The ANSYS Mechanical environment with the integrated FEMFAT is shown in Figure 4.
Developed ACT extension which entirely integrates FEMFAT into ANSYS significantly improves the effectiveness and comfortability of fatigue analysis simulation process. The extension provides ANSYS with new analysis systems following on from FEMFAT modules, which can be added to the automated simulation workflow. Fatigue results as damage or fatigue life can be therefore evaluated directly instead of traditional assessment based on stresses and these can be used as responses in subsequent parametric studies. Setup of fatigue analysis and post-processing of fatigue result can be done in ANSYS Mechanical environment without using the traditional FEMFAT GUI.