Show element thickness

This script will show the thickness of shell elements using the element thickness variable. It automatically identifies the correct thickness variable for these readers: Ansys Results, LS-DYNA3D, LS-DYNA_Beta, MSC/Dytran, Nastran OP2 (beta.

Example images using ‘blade out’ example model. Image on left is original model. Image on right is after running the script.


The script works by creating one or two elevated surfaces for each selected surface part and hides the original parts.

Running the script will show a GUI with several options. Checking “Match part colors” will give the elevated surface parts the same color as their parent parts so the model looks the same other than the thickness.


Download the script: element_thickness_gui

Creating curved clips from splines

These are two related tools which create 2D curved “clips” from user-created splines. The tools do not create actual EnSight clip parts. Instead the final result is either an offset part (a type of elevated surface) or a second case with a single part and no variables. The “clip” geometry and mesh depend only on the splines, not on any parts.

Tool 1 – Curved clip from a single spline


This will create a clip which is the shape of a spine extruded in a single direction.


  1. Makes one or more splines
  2. Run the tool (if there is more than one spline the tool will ask you to select one)
  3. Set the extrusion distance and direction

The tool should run and a new part should be visible.

Options to set in the file before starting EnSight

grid_size – The clip mesh will be quad4 elements that are approximately square. The grid_size variable sets the desired length of one side of each element.
min_spline_points – In cases where the grid_size is too large relative to the length of the spline the number of elements could be very small. If the number of points along the spline is below the minimum specified here then the grid_size will be reduced to meet the minimum requirement.

Tool 2 – Curved clip from two splines


This will create a clip which is the shape of a spine extruded along the direction of a second spline.


  1. Make two or more splines
  2. Run the tool
  3. Select the two splines to use (the order of the splines matters) and other options in the window

The tool should run and a new part should be visible. If there are critical errors a window should pop up with an error message. If the direction of the extrusion is in the wrong direction, invert the second spline and run the tool again.

Options to set in the file before starting EnSight

There are two methods the tool can use for creating clips.
1. The default is to write a new case file, load it in as a second case, and use CaseMap to color it by a variable. This method is much faster and more robust but it does require loading a second case. For that reason a second method is included.
2. Create a point part with triangle mesh, then use the point part to create an offset part. There are two sub-methods for how to create the point part. See below.

temp_file_type – chooses which method above to use.
‘case’ is for writing a new case file.
‘point’ is for creating a point part by writing a point part file.
‘none’ will create a point part without using a file.
grid_size – The grid_size variable sets the desired distance between neighboring nodes.
max_rectangles – (for ‘case’ only) If the given grid_size and spline lengths would result in more than max_rectangles then the grid_size will be increased.
max_triangles – (for ‘point’ and ‘none’ only) The tool can become prohibitively slow if there are too many triangles. The number depends on your hardware and OS but 10k triangles should take a few seconds, 100k triangles a few minutes. The time increase is faster than linear (i.e. n^2) so be careful how high you go. If the given grid_size and spline lengths would result in more than max_triangles then the grid_size will be increased.


Creating point parts should be faster in 10.1.4a and later. Some text output is sent to the python tab. (updated 2015-4-23)

Smoke rendering for FDS

From the official site for FDS:

Fire Dynamics Simulator (FDS) is a large-eddy simulation (LES) code for low-speed flows, with an emphasis on smoke and heat transport from fires.

Smokeview (SMV) is a visualization program used to display the output of FDS and CFASTsimulations.

FDS+Evac is the evacuation simulation module for FDS.

These tools are open source and freely available.

FDS smoke 2

One use of FDS is simulation of visibility through smoke. The most realistic way to visualize smoke is volume rendering, which the default post processor Smokeview can do.

EnSight volume rendering color and transparency are customizable by the user, so they cannot be relied upon to accurately represent the visibility through smoke. The attached document and python script present a method which sets the volume rendering opacity in EnSight to accurately represent visibility. With minor modification the script also applies to any data that has a light extinction coefficient or optical density variable.

Analysis and python script.

A session file containing this dataset can be downloaded here.

Exporting variable values on a grid

This was made for a specific customer request. It exports variable values that lay on a specified grid of points over an X-Y plane. It saves these values for all time steps. Download:


The default settings work with the flow2d data and save to a .csv file.

This was also my first venture with PyQt. These lines of code pop up a confirm file overwrite window if the target save file already exists:

q = PyQt4.QtGui.QMessageBox()
q.setWindowTitle(“File already exists”)
q.setText(“The file “+filename+” already exists.\nDo you want to overwrite the existing file?”)
ret = q.exec_()

I didn’t make my own class to do it, but QMessageBox is already a class so I don’t see why my own class would be better for a simple case like this. The setWindowTitle method doesn’t seem to work for me though (the window has no title). Making it a function would have been cleaner but this was just a quick script.

Prepare cube tool for a skybox

Here is a very short script that prepares the cube tool to make a skybox. Just change the numbers in the first 2 lines and go. Then create the skybox manually.


Moving car animation

This script assists in creating an animation with frame mode. It makes the car appear to move and wheel spin at a rate that matches the car’s speed. It can do constant speed as well as constant acceleration and deceleration.

First create 3 frames (ground and background, front wheels, rear wheels) and assign them to the parts. Then adjust the settings at the beginning of the script. The car will stay stationary while the ground moves in the opposite direction to give the appearance of motion.


Transient animation update palette range

Problem statement: EnSight has an option for setting the variable palette range to what is visible in a given viewport or to selected parts. However there is no option to update to these ranges automatically when time changes.

Value proposition: These are two scripts for updating the palette range automatically. One script adds a time callback, but this is only called when changing solution time in the GUI. It is not called for transient flipbooks, keyframes, or when saving a solution time animation. So the other script uses EnVe to save a solution time animation. Neither script works with flipbook or keyframe.

Script 1: Time callback update palette range

This works by remembering the selected parts when the script is run and using their min/max range. If the variable used to color the first part (of the selected parts) is changed then the new variable will update instead of the old one. You can add multiple independent callbacks by running the script again (each run creates a new instance of the class). The user should not need to edit the script, just select parts and run. There is some output in the python tab.


Script 2: Transient update palette

A very basic script that creates a single transient movie. All the settings are near the beginning of the script. Only a few lines of code update the palette range, and these could easily be changed to perform different actions every time step. So this is also a template for saving any transient animation with changes each time step.


Calculate percent volume/area/length

For users who want to calculate the % or fraction of a part which has variable values within a certain range. This is fairly easy to do manually in EnSight but requires some knowledge and can give false answers if parent parts have mixed dimensions. This routine automates the steps:

  1. create an isovolume
  2. calculate the volume, area, or length of the isovolume and parent part(s)
  3. divide the isovolume by parent to get fraction (x100 for %)

In addition to automating, the script also checks for the existence of mixed element dimensions in the selected parts. If there is more than one dimensionality (1D, 2D, 3D) of elements then the script aborts. If only one type exists then the script chooses the correct calculator function for that dimension and names the constant variables accordingly.

The options are set by 3 variables at the beginning of the script. Just variable, isovolume by high/low/band, and the iso values. Multiple values can be specified to create multiple isos.

This is really just the bare beginnings and there is certainly a lot more that can be done. GUI, error reporting, creating annotations, more options, command language, extension class.

After you have run this script you will have a Vol_percent_1 variable which represents the isovolume fraction % of total.  Now select the isovolume part and double click on the Tools icon at the top, and go into the Analyze folder and run the Part Constant Query tool. Choose the Vol_percent_1 constant variable.  Now you have a nice plot from sweeping the max isovolume from min to max.



Download script:

Logo annotation helper

Problem statement: Most EnSight graphics and annotations will resize automatically with the graphics window or output image size, however, the logo annotation does not. Also, the location of the logo is fixed by the bottom-left corner, which means it won’t stay fixed in the upper-right corner when the resolution changes.

Value proposition: This tools makes it easy to set the logo size, aspect ratio, and location in ways useful for image and animation output.

The current state of this python is a script with a simple GUI. It is unfinished but in a usable state and lacking documentation. The GUI options are a bit long and confusing at first.

Download the script:

Quick save a plot as an image

This simple script provides a fast way to save a singular plot as an image, with no other objects from the graphics window visible.

It provides a few options that need to be edited in the file (notably the image save path) and a few other options that are specified in a pop-up window. I think usage is fairly straight forward. If this script is used often, one will probably want to remove the pop-up window and set the options to the desired defaults inside the script. The script should work regardless of whatever else is visible in the graphics window, and should restore the view to it’s original state after running. Multiple viewports are supported, but the script may fail if the maximum allowed 16 viewports exit.

The saved images will be named after the Plot name. In a duplicate filename exists the new name will be modified (existing images will not be overwritten).

Added a toggle in the GUI to allow toggling the background color automatically using EnSight.

Download the script (updated April 23, 2014)