Thermal Analysis using SolidWorks Simulation by Arvind Krishnan

Thermal analysis is available in multiple packages of SolidWorks Simulation. Each package has a different level of capability and this post helps distinguish between them.

Linear Static – Thermal Stress: When a part is heated or cooled, it will expand or contract respectively creating stresses. This also happens when a full thermal analysis calculates the different temperatures across the model. Once the temperature distribution is obtained by either Flow Simulation or Thermal Analysis (Simulation Professional), this information can be relayed back to a linear static study from which the stresses can be calculated.

·         Finds stress due to temperature

·         Imports temperature

Simulation Professional – Thermal Analysis: When there is a heat source at one region and a fluid at another region cooling the part, we can find the temperature distribution (temperatures at different regions of the part) by doing a thermal analysis. The cooling of a part is represented by a number called the convection coefficient. This number needs to be provided.

·         Finds Thermal Distribution

·         Convection Coefficient needed

·         Conduction and Radiation

Convection CoefficientSimulation Professional

Thermal Analysis in Flow Simulation: This study is more detailed and gives the user more options as compared to Simulation Professional. It also does not need convection coefficient to be defined.

  • Finds temperature distribution
  • Convection Coefficient NOT needed
  • Expanded capabilities
  • Conduction, Convection and Radiation


Flow Simulation

Convection Coefficient: If you have a fluid like air or water cooling a part, the amount of heat extracted depends on a number of factors like type of fluid and the speed it is travelling at. All these factors can be approximated by a number called the convection coefficient. It is calculated by the Flow simulation software. In contrast, it needs to be entered by the user in Simulation Professional.

For example, a person walking outside feels cooler when there is a wind blowing. This is because the increased velocity increases the convection coefficient and it extracts more heat from your body.

  • Approximates Value of amount of heat extracted.


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