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Discrete Element Method
in Ansys LS-DYNA

Course Overview

At normal scales, a granular flow is made up of millions of small particles (grains of sand, for instance) each of which is subject to the laws of solid mechanics. Modeling such an assembly using traditional FEM is intractable. These systems can be made tractable, however, with some simplifying assumptions:

  • The particles are three-dimensional rigid bodies. This saves us from calculating individual deformations.
  • The particles have simple shapes (usually spheres). This simplifies contact.
  • Each discrete element is a pseudo particle corresponding to large numbers of particles. This reduces the number of discrete elements.
  • Bonding between particles is modeled using elastic beams attached to particle centers.

Taken together these assumptions are called the "Discrete Element Method". LS-DYNA implements and couples’ discrete elements to solid mechanics elements. The DEM has been used to model manufacturing processes involving hoppers, explosions in mines, fractures in brittle materials, as well as for cars driving through sand. This class covers LS-DYNA's implementation of the DEM. This class covers how to set up, run, and post-process simulations using this method. This class will also provide the theoretical background for this method including a discussion of the advantages and disadvantages of this method.


Teaching Method

Lectures and Illustrations with Examples.

Learning Outcome

Following completion of this course, you will be able to:

  • Understand the basic theory of the Discrete Element Method.
  • Familiar with keywords associate with DEM and the detailed usage.
  • Learn how to use the LS-PrePost to set up the DEM model and visualize the simulation results.
  • Learn the possible applications with DEM and the DEM coupling with other methods.
  • Apply the bond model for simulating non-spherical injection and structure deformation.

 Available Dates

Currently, no training dates available

Learning Options

Training materials for this course are available with an Ansys Learning Hub Subscription. If there is no active public schedule available, private training can be arranged. Please contact us.


This is a 1-day classroom course covering both lectures and workshops. For virtual training, this course is covered over 2 x 2-hour sessions lectures only.

Virtual Classroom Session 1

  • Module 01: Introduction. Motivation and Background
  • Module 0: Theory Description
  • Module 03: Examples and Applications
  • Module 04: Main Keywords
  • Module 05: Generating DEM Particles in LS-PrePost
  • Module 06: Post-Processing DEM Models

Virtual Classroom Session 2

  • Module 06: Post-Processing DEM Models
  • Module 07: General Comments
  • Module 08: Interaction Between DEM Particles and Structure
  • Module 09: Sphere Bond Models
  • Module 10: Coupling with ALE & ICFD
    • Introduction to the Discrete Element Method
    • Example of application of DEM
    • Theoretical background of the DEM
    • Introduction to the DES in LS-DYNA
    • Main Keywords.
    • DES parameters
    • Generating DEM Particles in LS-PrePost
    • Post-Processing DEM Models using LS-PrePost
    • Application of DES
    • Interaction between DEM Particles and Structure
    • General Comments
    • Strengths
    • Weaknesses
    • Coupling to Particle Blast Method
    • Bond Models for the simulation of continua
    • Adaptive analysis of solid elements with DEM
    • References