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Finite friction blocks


Finite friction blocks

Hello All,

I am trying to develop a feel for the behaviour of Creo3.0's finite friction.

So starting with a simple model


Text book concludes no sliding.

Reality tells us that the pressure distribution is not like the text book Amongst other things,the load pulling the green block acts a distance above the surface and not in the surface. It's this estimate of reality we want.

We know that the blocks are elastic (even though they are steel) and therefore one should expect a high (theoretically enormous) stress around the perimeter of the green block ... and maybe in part where problems begin.

The values chosen should ensure no sliding.

I used brick elements (tets give poor pressure plots and bricks provide a more 'stable' solution)

The problem is very 'sensitive' to the initial time step.

It will not solve using the default 0-1 ramp function with much oscillation of the residual norm, contact area reducing to zero followed by bisection after bisection then failing. The load factor is reduced to

Load Factor:  0.000195313

*** A fatal error has occurred. ***

There are 3 directions to explore

1. Load step refinement

2. Mesh refinement

3. This is a load rather than displacement controlled problem


With 10% timesteps, bisection still occurs but I get a solution and the results don't look right. Unrealistic displacement of the green block and a tangential force measure magnitude of 0.00757N where the applied load is 0.1N. The load factor is reduced by the software:

** Warning:

  Excessive motion detected at contact regions.

  Cutting load step size.

Load Factor: 0.025 (presumably of my 10% step)

The interface force is 7.48e-2 whereas the normal force applied is 2000N (presumed: the interface force measure is normal to the surface)

All the movement occurs in the first time step.

All this suggests poor mesh/loadstep selection.

With 1% loadsteps there is some similar behaviour, just many more graph points (not all shown) and a lot more time (14658.75 secs vs 2246.68 secs)

There is a much smaller movement, with nearly all of it happening in the first loadstep with a very small increase in displacement each step after the first time step.

but now the tangential force measure doesn't stack up. The block is being pulled with 0.1N. The integral of tangential friction force across the contacting face cannot exceed the applied load.

      Interface1_any_slippage:           2.456282e-01

      Interface1_area:                         2.000001e+03

      Interface1_average_slippage:  -8.653680e-02

      Interface1_complete_slippage: -2.126610e-01

      Interface1_force:                       3.672802e+00

      Interface1_max_tang_traction:  4.273336e-01

      Interface1_tang_force:              4.515394e-01

the applied load pulling the block was 0.1N, the tang force is 0.45N

The resultant pressure load applied was 2000N, interface force is 3.67N

I should (and forgot) to create a ground constraint measure. Grrr.

So this is a mesh refinement thing? Should we have a finer mesh at the loaded edge? Should rounds be applied?


Try tets? smaller bricks? Mesh is everything in Non-linear.


A lot of problems have to be turned 'upside down'. Rather than applying the load an enforced displacement constraint is used such that a run-away condition is cannot be encountered; the model is always fully constrained. The reaction at the constraint is the load that would have otherwise been applied. This is how the examples posted on the learning connector (and others) work.

The problem with this is that the potential movements are so small. The green steel block is 50mmx40mmx10mm and if it's entire length 50mm length was involved in the stretching, it would have a stiffness of 10x40x200,000/50=1.6e6 N/mm. When the full load of 0.1N is applied then the extension would be 6.35e-8mm. The actual extension will be less than this as is seems reasonable that slip would only occur local to the loaded face initially with the rest of the contact interface effectively isolated and not moving. Surely therefore the enforced displacement constraint must have steps in the order of 10e-9mm or lower. I then have to question the mesh resolution again even though I know there are polynomials underneath.

So the fuzzy question is,  There will have been much testing on simple models such as this. Can we have some guideline re mesh, loadsteps and where it is not appropriate to apply finite friction, benchmark models?

Could my meanderings above be unpicked for a better understanding? and apologies in advance for any glaring mistakes, it has been a long (interesting) week.

En passant, what is the practical difference between asking for full results at user defined steps on the output tab and having a load that is factored by a function?

Thanks for getting this far



Accepted Solutions

Re: Finite friction blocks

Hi all,

just last Tuesday I did a presentation about the new finite friction contact model in Creo 3.0 at the SAXSIM (SAXon SImulation Meeting,, Technical University of Chemnitz, Germany. It is attached for your information. You should obtain a lot of information regarding contact modeling in Simulate. After reading it, you’ll not be very surprised that all attempts to use Creo 3 finite friction contact are not very successful.

However, also Creo 2 users who just use the friction free and infinite friction contact models should obtain helpful information about code functionalities.

Fortunately, the new Creo Simulate responsible from PTC, Jose Coronado, participated to that meeting, too, since he did the opening presentation about the Creo Simulate 4.0 news. So, PTC has got the info.

Best, Roland


P.S.: I posted a lot of simulation-specific presentations under my new blog "Rolos Simulate Sources":

I’ll update that from time to time with new material. Hope it's useful for you all.



View solution in original post


Re: Finite friction blocks

It seems you are doing research on Creo/Simulate behaviour.... I doubt anyone has looked into this more closely than you have.

A few remarks:

* You have fully constrained the sides of the bottom plate. This may be why you do not get a nice even pressure distribution, because the sides of the bottom plate are now infinitely stiff

* Your top plate appears to be hanging over the edge, which would mean large displacements... not sure that is right?

* All movement in first step: that kind of makes sense because you will have micro-movements due to elastic deformations. Once that is settled, I can imagine there is no more relative movement b/c the tangential force cannot overcome friction. (I could even imagine that Creo first calculates elastic deformations and then contact in the next phase of the calculation, but that is pure speculation from my side).

Re: Finite friction blocks

Hi Patrick,

Thanks for the notes.

I would not expect an even pressure distribution, both contacting surfaces are unconstrained and elastic. Ignoring friction for a moment, the contact pressure distribution will cause the green block to 'dome' with a lower pressure in the centre and the edges will dig in (I visualise it as a Gibb's effect). Cylindrical rolling elements in bearings have this problem and rather than rectangular cross section they can be given a curved profile (logarithmic) such that the pressure distribution remains linear-ish and peaks at the edges reduced/removed.

The top plate is hanging because is has moved 9mm in the first time step. This is not right. Movement has to begin at the loaded surface and 'propagate along' the structure (try dragging a carpet). In both models everything was in step 1.

The most bothersome thing at the moment is that the interface force and tan force measures are simply wrong (or a badly set up model coupled with poor interpretation).


Re: Finite friction blocks

Hi Charles,

I encountered the same problem. You did not mention you're datecode, but I tested it in M040 and it exists in that version. One of our customers came with the question. I opened a support case at PTC for this issue referring to this post because of you're precise explanation (thanks!).


Re: Finite friction blocks


I tried it in M010 and M030. (and Ansys).

Let me know what the outcome is.


Re: Finite friction blocks

I'm curious... why do you want to do this in Creo if you can do it in Ansys?

Re: Finite friction blocks


Sometimes we agree with the client that deliverables are provided in a particular version such that the client can review using their own licenses.

Also, the ability to offer either s/w provides flexibility.

I want to be sure we can use Creo3's finite friction effectively and with confidence before making the statement 'we can do that in Creo'.

At the moment I know to say that we would only do it in Ansys and work on the Creo functionality in spare time.


Re: Finite friction blocks

Hi Charles

Excellent job.

I've encountered similar problems with  "forklifting a pallet". friction, no friction, different meshes, timesteps, smooth load application, the works. But no convergence. To put it more bluntly, no succesful timestep at all, so no idea where it wants to move.

I also received this nasty remark of excessive motion, also a message that "full sliding has occurred at one of the contact surfaces" (which should be absolutely impossible given my constraints) I rebuilt the model in Creo 2 and the analysis runs without problems.

Something is not right in Creo 3.0


I would like to urge PTC to pay attention please. I can not use Creo 3.0 for normal business, which is a shame 10 months after the release was first presented.

Re: Finite friction blocks


I've now seen 3 different models containing contact failing in Creo 3.0, which ran after rebuilding in Creo 2.0

It's simply not economically clever to move to Creo 3.0 I've not seen an advantage of the new contact algorithm yet, quite the contrary.

I will not start customer projects in Creo 3.0 until I'm sure it can be done effectively.

Re: Finite friction blocks


I've tried finite and zero friction. no difference, no convergence in either case, for all 3 models.

My 3 Examples contained flat planes under normal load, concentric cilinders, 1 supporting another and a model with a tube in a hole. friction or no friction, contact did not converge in creo 3.0, but did converge (no friction) in creo 2. I've not tried infinite friction.


Re: Finite friction blocks

Hi All,

PTC has acknowledged that the tangential forces are NOT correct; SPR 4571852 with HIGH PRIORITY, for those who can view it.

I'm not sure about the rest of the results;

-You're 'average slippage' measure is (very) negative, so telling you there is NO SLIPPAGE (seems correct)

-The displacement you show is only in the outline of the block, not in the centre, so is this slippage or just deformation of the block as a result of the forces?

Furthermore, it is clear that to get (probably) correct displacement results with finate friction (in the current release) you MUST have about 11 time-steps and a very fine mesh. With standard analyses settings the study will report large displacement but in my experience it does not report that convergence is not obtained. However, the fact that it jumps in a SPA from poly 3 to 9 does indicate it.

Re: Finite friction blocks

Dear Charles,

New work around provided by PTC R&D;

In the current release of Creo 3 (m040) in order to get correct results for Interface_force with finite friction you need to set the following settings;

- Contact should be surface-surface (not component-component)

- Use study type Quick Check (SPA is currently not correct)

- Ensure you have at least 10-11 time steps

I've tested it and my Interface_force is now correct! Try it, I would say...

I'm still in discussion with R&D about the tang_traction and the max_tang_force results...

Re: Finite friction blocks

I have a reaction from PTC about the tang_traction and the max_tang_force;


“The measure  Interface1_max_tang_tractioncan be used to get the required tangential force as: tang_force = Interface1_max_tang_traction*  Interface1_area 0.02749214*900 = 24.7429. This is one
of the workaround to get there – work in QC (Quick check) Analysis as discussed.  This is approximate solution
because we are calculating this from MAX traction and not from average traction.  The other workaround is to use
enforced displacement loading instead of force as I demonstrated in my earlier mail.”


"The measure Interface1_tang_force was incorrectly reported by engine in Creo 3.0 and R&D is
working on this.  There are other SPRs on this same line about this tangential force measure and R&D have plans to fix them by December 2015 end.  R&D will provided a fix in the next Creo 3.0 M080 Datecode versions for all SPRs those falls on this line.  Hope that is not too late. Sorry for delay
and I appreciate patience."

I would say, applause for PTC for listening and committing yourself to a fix-date!

Re: Finite friction blocks

Hi all,

just last Tuesday I did a presentation about the new finite friction contact model in Creo 3.0 at the SAXSIM (SAXon SImulation Meeting,, Technical University of Chemnitz, Germany. It is attached for your information. You should obtain a lot of information regarding contact modeling in Simulate. After reading it, you’ll not be very surprised that all attempts to use Creo 3 finite friction contact are not very successful.

However, also Creo 2 users who just use the friction free and infinite friction contact models should obtain helpful information about code functionalities.

Fortunately, the new Creo Simulate responsible from PTC, Jose Coronado, participated to that meeting, too, since he did the opening presentation about the Creo Simulate 4.0 news. So, PTC has got the info.

Best, Roland


P.S.: I posted a lot of simulation-specific presentations under my new blog "Rolos Simulate Sources":

I’ll update that from time to time with new material. Hope it's useful for you all.



View solution in original post

Re: Finite friction blocks


A big thanks to that. You have answered the initial question.

I repeated the '2 blocks' study in Ansys

Re: Creo Simulate vs ANSYS Workbench contact analysis w. friction.

But didn't follow it up as I thought the effort/reward ratio would be hopeless. Besides, Mark Fischer is watching?

I have felt for a long time that new functionality should be tested, without prejudice, by companies facing real engineering applications first.

Re: Missing the maximum, global sens and optimiser

The errors, limitations, frustrations, work around attempts and relative importance of usability you report echoes our experience 100%.

But I have to be pragmatic and get the correct engineering answers; I have restarted work in Ansys. I do not have the time to report all the fundamental issues I find.

I hope the response from PTC is tangible.



Re: Finite friction blocks

Hi Roland

Thank you very much for your worthwhile paper. Happy that someone puts effort into understanding how Simulate works and show what doesn't work.

In the mean time I'm seriously beginning to loose faith in PTC regarding their support for the simulation software.

We spend too much time finding workarounds for things that should work but don't.

Maybe it's time to start looking for a serious alternative.

Kind regards to all


Re: Finite friction blocks

It would be interesting to hear what the technical committee of Creo/Simulate thinks about this (or more in general: about product quality and timely announcement and fixing of bugs). Does anyone know whether the Simulate TC is reading along on this forum?

Re: Finite friction blocks

Patrick - Yes, I monitor the analysis group and have been a long-time TC member. This topic is of interest to me and I am trying to spend as much time as I can to dig further and follow-up on the data/presentation Roland shared with us (great info by the way - thanks Roland!). Honestly, I use ANSYS for all contact problems I have simply because of its significantly longer history and more robust solver. It also allows users to modify many input factors and considers most any other non-linear behavior to be solved along with it. I do encourage, and expect, that all our engineering staff use Simulate for as much of their work as possible - mostly for individual part analysis as ANSYS is a more challenging software to use properly. I remember being part of a group that unanimously asked for finite friction back around 2001. Now that we have it, it will take some time to sort out the "opportunities for improvement". TC meetings are coming-up in June, with the annual conference, and we'll see what progress has been made to any issues found by that time.



Re: Finite friction blocks

Thank you for your reply Christopher. Your answer made me think a bit more about this.

Like you, I don't do contact analyses in Creo/Simulate; in that case Abaqus is my tool of choice. Part of the problem here may be that the Simulate users grow over the years, and so does the complexity of their analyses. So they run into really advanced problems at times. Especially in new features that are quite advanced, you can expect to run into some bugs.

However, this should not be an excuse to let the software quality slide. Not everyone has the option to use different software, so all the features in Creo should work properly. This is hugely important for Creo/Simulate, because the majority its users are not experienced CAE users, and so they are likely not to notice when something is wrong.

If something does not work as it should, an prompt warning should go out to all users, and a fix should be expected within a reasonable amount of time. (What is 'reasonable' depends on the severeness of the issue and the complexity of the fix). This is where PTC is seriously underperforming. See for instance the issue on the non-symmetric results on symmetrically loaded conic parts in this topic.

I suspect the majority of Simulate users could care less about results being off in an analysis with finite friction contacts. But I hope you agree that PTC should make more work of announcing problems and releasing fixes for them, and I hope the TC will help point this out to them.

Hearing Erik announce that he is losing faith and is considering looking for alternative software is quite shocking. He is the national Mechanica guru and has given enthusiastic presentations on the software for decades. He does things with the software that other people did not think were possible. For him to lose faith in the software is really incredibly bad.

Re: Finite friction blocks


My hat is off to those that understand the theoretical mechanics at a level I struggle to remember and then they code it as well. I can't do that. What frustrated me was the rapidity with which I went right back to a very basic models to find the issues arising meant it unusable.

Letting a forum Guru or two stress the functionality on real world problems as part of the QA (as early on in the s/w design as feasible) is far more likely to knock the corners off before release into the wild, provide initial expertise to first level support and potentially some knowledge base info.

I am aware ,,, the cost/legal/licensing/logistical/time/organisation/pressure to release/shareholders/competition/corporate secrecy ,,,

Simulate's cad integration is second to none, usability incredible, its bang for buck is amazing and then to get finite friction as well ... !

But my view is firmly 'robust' not 'release headlines'. If that means wait then I would rather do that.



Re: Finite friction blocks


Hi Christopher, Charles, and Eric,


If I read your answers correctly and evaluate what other Simulate users told me, PTC really seems to have severe quality problems with Simulate, so it is not only my personal experience as more advanced user.


Charles, Eric, I fully understand your frustration and being annoyed about spending time to file issues or look for workarounds – this is what makes me upset, too, since the time the SJ engine group was laid off. I would be pretty interested in what issues you have observed to obtain a better snapshot where PTC stands currently with this code. I have opened >100 cases after I left PTC mid of 2012. I attach an actual EXCEL file that just lists all my personal cases and SPRs. Please don’t be surprised that starting with July 2015, Christian Thon appears as case creator and not me. The reason is that since this time I am not allowed any more to directly open cases online at PTC, I have to do this over our reseller Econocap in Germany.


You can see that the time between opening a case, SPR creation and closing it has increased significantly after the engine group was laid off in October 2013; before, it was pretty fast and absolutely acceptable. It is still very frustrating for me to file issues and spent my time if I have to wait so long for resolutions. I understand comments here in the community that users simply use another code instead of struggling with PTC, but if we do not report issues nothing will happen and PTC becomes the impression users simply do not use these functionalities or – similar worse - all runs fine. For what do we pay our maintenance fees?

B.t.w., we had a phone conference with PTC/Marc Fisher and his successor Jose Coronado early this year where PTC now committed to fix approx. 10-12 issues per 6 month. The open SPRs are tracked in a separate EXCEL where they have been prioritized. However, that still means that we have to wait more than two years until all open SPRs are fixed – if I do not find new issues (what I already did). B.t.w.: Several things were addressed as so called “enhancements”, which means they will be fixed in Creo 5.0 earliest…


Christopher, if you are TC member and join a TC meeting in June, I’m glad if you could collect user feedback like my case list attached, may be some other users reading this have experienced similar trouble and can upload their issues here or sent it directly to you as well. You may also contact me outside the community, my coordinates are also available at the last slides of my Altran presentations (you may also look at I think it is very important to confront high PTC management with the actual, inacceptable situation. I would guess R&D fights against 200-300 issues or even more, but I don’t know.


I also attach the PTC presentation about the Creo 4 enhancements that was provided on the SAXSIM DVD given to the participants two weeks ago. You see that not even one improvement is planned for the engine. Just have a look on the image on slide 8 to see what’s up.


I hope PTC reacts adequately with ramping up sufficient R&D resources again.





Re: Finite friction blocks


After finding out that I cannot file SPR's directly (It has to go through my reseller, which is very friendly and helpful, but I have no further influence). And after observing that no attention is payed to these SPR's whatsoever I stopped bothering. I try to find workarounds and share these with fellow users.

The  enhancements for 4.0 are indeed not very exciting, last year October it looked better than this, so they've decided to do less.

You are right about maintenance, I will stop it, I am sure PTC won't notice that either.


Re: Finite friction blocks

Christopher, is there any chance of the Simulate TC sharing some information about the meeting that was held in june?

Re: Finite friction blocks

An example that unfortunately confirms the 'time span to solve SPR'  experience of Ronald Jakel;

Fixed datecode for solving the incorrect 'interface_tang_force' has moved from Creo 3 m080 to Creo 3 m110

Re: Finite friction blocks

Test in M110:



Re: Finite friction blocks

Hi all,

Creo Simulate 2.0 M080 is excellent (perfect).

(end of Evolution)



Re: Finite friction blocks

PTC's answer to this discussion presented at SAXIM 2017, 28 march

FYI 'next buildcode' at that time could be m130 which was released in April of this year.