File Solid

Solid element with properties derived from external file

  • Library:
  • Simscape / Multibody / Body Elements

Description

The File Solid block models a solid element with geometry, inertia, color, and reference frame derived from an external file. The file must be of a part model, which is to say that it contains at least solid geometry data. Some formats may provide color and inertia data, though such properties can be specified manually if need be.

Among the supported formats are those native to CATIA (V4, V5, and V6), Creo, Inventor, Unigraphics NX, Solid Edge, SolidWorks, and Parasolid (all CAD applications common in industry and academia). These include CATPART, PRT, IPT, SLDPRT, and X_T (and its binary version, X_B). Other valid formats, not associated with a specific application but common in 3-D modeling, include SAT (often referred to as ACIS), JT, STL, and STEP.

(CAD drawing and assembly files, which do not contain the necessary data for a solid element, cannot be imported to the block.)

Inertia Calculations

For part model files with density data, the block gives the option to (automatically) set the mass, center of mass, and inertia tensor of the solid from calculation. This behavior is enabled by default (through the Type and Based On parameters under the Inertia node, which, in their original states, will read Calculate from Geometry and Density from File).

If the imported file does not contain density data, you must specify it (or, equivalently, mass) for the calculations to be made. Set the Based On parameter to Custom Density or Custom Mass to enter the missing data.

Alternatively, if you have the complete mass properties of the imported part—often provided, for CAD models, by the CAD application itself—you can enter them directly as block parameters. Set the inertia Type parameter to Custom in order to do this.

Note that the frame in which the moments and products of inertia are defined will vary among CAD applications. In this block, the origin of that frame is assumed to be at the center of mass (and its axes parallel to those of the reference frame). This frame is referred to here as the inertia resolution frame. (The center of mass, on the other hand, is defined in the reference frame.) For more information, see Specifying Custom Inertias.

Derived Values

If the mass properties are computed from geometry, you can view their values in the block dialog box. To do so, expand the Derived Values node under Inertia and click Update. (This feature, as it is specified to computed properties, requires that the inertia Type setting be Calculated from Geometry.) If a geometry or inertia block parameter changes, click the Update button once again to display the new mass properties. All values are in SI units of length (m) and mass (kg).

Solid Visualization

The block dialog box contains a collapsible visualization pane. This pane provides instant visual feedback on the solid you are modeling. Use it to find and fix any issues with the shape and color of the solid. You can examine the solid from different perspectives by selecting a standard view or by rotating, panning, and zooming the solid.

Select the Update Visualization button to view the latest changes to the solid geometry in the visualization pane. Select Apply or OK to commit your changes to the solid. Closing the block dialog box without first selecting Apply or OK causes the block to discard those changes.

Solid Visualization Pane

Right-click the visualization pane to access the visualization context-sensitive menu. This menu provides additional options so that you can change the background color, split the visualization pane into multiple tiles, and modify the view convention from the default +Z up (XY Top) setting.

Connection Frames

Like most components, the solid connects through frames, of which it has at least one. The default frame, which serves as its reference and is associated with port R, gets its origin and axes from the data in the imported file. (The origin is generally the zero coordinate of the CAD model or, if such technology is used, the 3-D scan, contained in the file.)

For those cases in which the reference frame is ill-placed for connection, or in which multiple connection frames are needed, the block comes with a frame creation tool. Treat this tool as an interactive alternative to the Rigid Transform block (the latter a numerical means to add and translate as well as rotate frames, though one that keeps the frames separate from the solid).

You can create (and edit) frames using geometry features as constraints—placing the frame origin on, and orienting the frame axes along, selected vertices, edges, and faces. You can also use the reference frame origin and its axes, as well as the center of mass and the principal inertia axes, to define the new frames. Each frame adds to the block a new frame port (its label derived from the name given in the frame creation pane).

To create or edit a frame, first expand the Frames node in the block dialog box. Click the button to create a frame or the button to edit a frame (if one, other than the reference frame, already exists). The frame definitions depend on a mix of geometry and inertia data, so you must have previously imported a part geometry file. If a block parameter changes, you must refresh the visualization pane (by clicking the button) in order to create or edit a frame.

Frame Definition

A custom frame is fully defined when its origin and axes are too. Of these, the axes require the most care. You must specify two axes, one primary and one secondary. The primary axis defines the plane (that normal to it) on which the other axes must lie. The secondary axis is merely the projection of a selected direction—axis or geometry feature—on that plane.

The remaining (and unspecified) axis is set by requiring that all three be perpendicular and ordered according to the right-hand rule. Naturally, the secondary axis must have a vector component perpendicular to the primary axis. If the two are parallel, the frame is invalid. If the frame is then saved, its orientation is set to that of the reference frame.

To use a geometry feature for the frame origin or axis definitions:

  1. In the frame creation pane, select the Based on Geometric Feature radio button.

  2. In the solid visualization pane, click a vertex, edge, or face. Zoom in, if necessary, to more precisely select a feature.

  3. Again in the frame creation pane, click the Use Selected Feature button.

MATLAB Variables

It is common in a model to parameterize blocks in terms of MATLAB variables. Instead of a scalar, vector, or string, for example, a block parameter will have in its field the name of a variable. The variable is defined elsewhere, often in a subsystem mask or in the model workspace, sometimes by reference to an external M file.

This approach suits complex models in which multiple blocks must share the same parameter value—a common density, say, or color, if defined as an RGB vector. When the MATLAB variable definition then changes, so do all block parameters that depend on it. Consider using MATLAB variables here if a parameter is likely to be shared by several blocks in a large model.

(For a simple example with solid blocks parameterized in terms of workspace variables, open the sm_compound_body model)

Ports

Frame

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Frame by which to connect the solid in a model. The frame node to which this port connects—generally another frame port or a frame junction—determines the position and orientation of the solid relative to other components. Add a Rigid Transform block between the port and the node if the frames they represent must be offset from one another.

Parameters

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Geometry

Name and extension of the part model file to import. If the file is not on the MATLAB path, the file location must be specified. The file location can be specified as an absolute path, starting from the root directory of the file system—e.g., 'C:/Users/JDoe/Documents/myShape.STEP'. It can also be specified as a relative path, starting from a folder on the MATLAB path—e.g., 'Documents/myShape.STEP'.

Source of the solid geometry units. Select From File to use the units specified in the imported file. Select Custom to specify your own units.

Length units in which to interpret the geometry defined in a geometry file. Changing the units changes the scale of the imported geometry.

Inertia

Inertia parameterization to use. Select Point Mass to model a concentrated mass with negligible rotational inertia. Select Custom to model a distributed mass with the specified moments and products of inertia. The default setting, Calculate from Geometry, enables the block to automatically calculate the rotational inertia properties from the solid geometry and either density or mass.

Parameter to use in inertia calculation. The block calculates the inertia tensor from the solid geometry and the parameter selected.

Use the default setting of Density from File to base the calculations on the density obtained from the imported file. (Note that only some formats can carry density data. Of those that do, only some will actually carry it. Often this data is specified in a CAD application before saving or exporting the part model file.)

Use Custom Density to specify a density other than that obtained from the imported file. Use Custom Mass to instead specify the total mass of the solid.

Mass per unit volume of material. The mass density can take on a positive or negative value. Specify a negative mass density to model the effects of a void or cavity in a solid body.

Total mass to attribute to the solid element. This parameter can be positive or negative. Use a negative value to capture the effect of a void or cavity in a compound body (one comprising multiple solids and inertias), being careful to ensure that the mass of the body is on the whole positive.

[x y z] coordinates of the center of mass relative to the block reference frame. The center of mass coincides with the center of gravity in uniform gravitational fields only.

Three-element vector with the [Ixx Iyy Izz] moments of inertia specified relative to a frame with origin at the center of mass and axes parallel to the block reference frame. The moments of inertia are the diagonal elements of the inertia tensor

(IxxIyyIzz),

where:

  • Ixx=V(y2+z2)dm

  • Iyy=V(x2+z2)dm

  • Izz=V(x2+y2)dm

Three-element vector with the [Iyz Izx Ixy] products of inertia specified relative to a frame with origin at the center of mass and axes parallel to the block reference frame. The products of inertia are the off-diagonal elements of the inertia tensor

(IxyIzxIxyIyzIzxIyz),

where:

  • Iyz=Vyzdm

  • Izx=Vzxdm

  • Ixy=Vxydm

Display of the calculated values of the solid mass properties—mass, center of mass, moments of inertia, and products of inertia. Click the Update button to calculate and display the mass properties of the solid. Click this button following any changes to the block parameters to ensure that the displayed values are still current.

The center of mass is resolved in the local reference frame of the solid. The moments and products of inertia are each resolved in the inertia frame of resolution—a frame whose axes are parallel to those of the reference frame but whose origin coincides with the solid center of mass.

Dependencies

The option to calculate and display the mass properties is active when the Inertia > Type block parameter is set to Calculate from Geometry.

Graphic

Choice of graphic to use in the visualization of the solid. The graphic is by default the geometry specified for the solid. Select Marker to show instead a simple graphic marker, such as a sphere or cube. Change this parameter to None to eliminate this solid altogether from the model visualization.

Shape of the marker by means of which to visualize the solid. The motion of the marker reflects the motion of the solid itself.

Width of the marker in pixels. This width does not scale with zoom level. Note that the apparent size of the marker depends partly on screen resolution, with higher resolutions packing more pixels per unit length, and therefore producing smaller icons.

Parameterization for specifying visual properties. Select Simple to specify color and opacity. Select Advanced to add specular highlights, ambient shadows, and self-illumination effects. Select From File if the imported file has color data and you want to use it in the model.

(Only some file formats allow color data. In those that do, that data is often optional. If your file does not specify color, the solid will take on a gray hue (the default solid color). Select another parameterization to customize color in such cases.)

RGB color vector with red (R), green (G), and blue (B) color amounts specified on a 0–1 scale. A color picker provides an alternative interactive means of specifying a color. If you change the Visual Properties setting to Advanced, the color specified in this parameter becomes the Diffuse Color vector.

Graphic opacity specified on a scale of 0–1. An opacity of 0 corresponds to a completely transparent graphic and an opacity of 1 to a completely opaque graphic.

True color under direct white light specified as an [R,G,B] or [R,G,B,A] vector on a 0–1 scale. An optional fourth element specifies the color opacity also on a scale of 0–1. Omitting the opacity element is equivalent to specifying a value of 1.

Color of specular highlights specified as an [R,G,B] or [R,G,B,A] vector on a 0–1 scale. The optional fourth element specifies the color opacity. Omitting the opacity element is equivalent to specifying a value of 1.

Color of shadow areas in diffuse ambient light, specified as an [R,G,B] or [R,G,B,A] vector on a 0–1 scale. The optional fourth element specifies the color opacity. Omitting the opacity element is equivalent to specifying a value of 1.

Surface color due to self illumination, specified as an [R,G,B] or [R,G,B,A] vector on a 0–1 scale. The optional fourth element specifies the color opacity. Omitting the opacity element is equivalent to specifying a value of 1.

Sharpness of specular light reflections, specified as a scalar number on a 0–128 scale. Increase the shininess value for smaller but sharper highlights. Decrease the value for larger but smoother highlights.

Frames

Clear the check box to hide the reference frame port in the Solid block. Hiding the reference frame port suppresses the frame visualization in Mechanics Explorer. You must expose the reference frame port if the block has no custom frames.

Select the Create button to define a new frame using the frame-creation interface. Each new frame appears on a row above the New Frame parameter. To edit an existing frame, select the Edit button . To delete an existing frame, select the Delete button .

Frame Creation Interface

Frame identifier specified as a MATLAB string. This string identifies the frame port in the block diagram and in the tree view pane of Mechanics Explorer. Keep the frame name short to ensure it fits in the block icon width.

Select the location of the frame origin. Options include:

  • At Reference Frame Origin — Make the new frame origin coincident with the reference frame origin. This is the default option.

  • At Center of Mass — Make the new frame origin coincident with the solid center of mass. The reference frame origin is located at the center of mass in symmetrical shapes such as spheres and bricks but not in certain extrusions or revolutions.

  • Based on Geometric Feature — Place the new frame origin at the center of the selected geometry feature. Valid geometry features include surfaces, lines, and points. You must select a geometry feature from the visualization pane and then select the Use Selected Feature button. The name of the selected geometry feature appears in the field below this option.

Select the axis of the new frame that you want to set as the primary axis. The primary axis constrains the possible orientations of the remaining two axes. Specify the orientation of the primary axis by selecting from the following options:

  • Along Reference Frame Axis — Align the primary axis with the selected axis of the reference frame.

  • Along Principal Inertia Axis — Align the primary axis with the selected principal inertia axis. The principal inertia axes are those about which the products of inertia are zero.

  • Based on Geometric Feature — Align the primary axis with the vector associated with the selected geometric feature. Valid geometric features include surfaces and lines.

Select the axis of the new frame that you want to set as the secondary axis. The secondary axis is the projection of the selected direction onto the normal plane of the primary axis. Select the direction to project from the following options:

  • Along Reference Frame Axis — Project the selected reference frame axis onto the normal plane of the primary axis. Align the secondary axis with the projection.

  • Along Principal Inertia Axis — Project the selected principal inertia axis onto the normal plane of the primary axis. Align the secondary axis with the projection. The principal inertia axes are those about which the products of inertia are zero.

  • Based on Geometric Feature — Project the vector associated with the selected geometry feature onto the normal plane of the primary axis. Align the secondary axis with the projection. Valid geometry features include surfaces and lines. You must select a geometry feature from the visualization pane and then select the Use Selected Feature button.

Extended Capabilities

C/C++ Code Generation
Generate C and C++ code using MATLAB® Coder™.

Introduced in R2018b