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Remote Displacement: Test Real World Situations with Simulations

By Cyprien Rusu 06 December 2021

Why to use Remote Displacements in Testing:

The classical displacement boundary condition assigns a specific value of displacement to a face or volume in one of the 3 directions X, Y, and Z.

Remote Displacements allow for a more granular control of the displacement applied, by controlling the position and direction of the displacement as if it was coming from one unique remote location.

You can activate this new feature by turning on the “Remote” slider in the displacement boundary condition menu. After that, just choose the X, Y, and Z location of the remote point as below, then move directly to simulation!

Displacement SetupThe parameters of the remote load boundary condition are:

  • Displacement: The displacement can be constrained of unconstrained (click on the blue locks) and a value in meter can be entered in each of the 3 directions X, Y and Z.
  • Remote: This option need to be activated for the remaining fields to appear.
  • Location: This is the location of the external point where the displacement is applied given in the global coordinate system.
  • Applied to: The surfaces or parts selected where the displacement will apply can be added or removed in this section.


How does the Remote Displacement work?

Behind the scenes, a node is created at the chosen location, and rigid link elements are created between this center node and all the nodes of the selected face like so:

The displacement of all the nodes of the selected face will thus be constrained by the displacements applied at the center node.

Now, ready to see Remote Displacements used in actual design?

Steering Wheel Example:

There are many situations that will cause stress to a steering wheel.

Whether texting and driving, drinking your morning coffee, or blasting music, they are often not used as intended. This means designers must test wider varieties of force applications, because a wrong position or inclination of the car driver might cause stress in a direction that was not intended by the manufacturer.

We can think about the center of gravity of the passenger as an indication of the orientation of the load that will be applied on the steering wheel.

If we imagine that the passenger will move up and down, the position of the load and its application point will change, making it all the more important to be able to test various configuration of loadings to the steering wheel.

Note that when we are talking about simulation of course, this is all virtual testing!

That’s why the software must have a way to deal with displacements applied to the model in all sorts of very uncommon ways.

This is where Remote Displacements and loads are useful.

If we place ourselves in the shoes of a steering wheel designer, we must think about the best way to describe our loading. Features like Remote Displacement make the representation of real world situations in a simulation more accurate and actionable.


Step 1 – Material Definition

Let’s first define the materials in OnScale Solve. We’ve chosen structural steel and acrylic plastic for this test!

Step 2- Applying the Remote Displacement Boundary Conditions

We need to think first about the position of a drivers’ hands. Where will they be applied on the wheel in the real world?

For that, a way to think about it is to go back to Onshape and draw the faces where we expect the hands to be as parts that will be used in OnScale to mark the position of the loads.

Now that OnScale Solve supports geometry update (CAD SYNC), we can easily update the model and get the first geometry ready for simulation and parametrization.That’s where the remote load comes in handy as we want to simulate 2 different positions of our driver, though these could be parameterized for any scenario for full safety testing.

Position 1: (0.14, 0, -0.1)Position 2: (0.05, 0, -0.15)

Step 3: Let’s Mesh the Model

Let’s make sure that the mesh is good around the position of the hands by choosing the “Very Fine” setting and performing a visual inspection. Thanks to OnScale Solve’s sophisticated automated mesher, we can immediately move forward!

Step 4: Simulate the Remote Displacements

Let’s now simulate our cases on the Cloud with OnScale Solve with the new Launcher.After estimating, wait until the end and repeat for the second position of the remote load.

Step 5: View Simulation Results

Position 1Position 2
Max Displacement: 0.2 mmMax Displacement: 0.34 mm
Max Von Mises Stress: 140 MpaMax Von Mises Stress: 230 MPa


We can see from here that the maximum displacements and stresses are much higher in the position 2. Making this design configuration riskier and prone to generate some problems for our steering wheel user.

Step 6: Iterate, and Take to Market

Now our designer needs iterate and re-work their design until it fits industry standards.

For that they can use version tracking in OnScale Solve, knowing the lineage of designs will be fully accessible as design changes are tested and compared.

That’s all for today’s article!

You can now try all of that on your own incredible design and make it world class with OnScale Solve. And if you don’t know where to start your simulation journey, we’ve got you covered.

Cyprien Rusu
Cyprien Rusu

Cyprien Rusu is our Director of Engineering for Asia at OnScale. He has a extensive background in FEM, Technical Marketing, Sales and Support. Cyprien recieved his MS in Civil Engineering from Tsinghua University. At OnScale he is a trusted advisor for our client base in Asia, while creating and providing OnScale training.

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