Revisit your childhood with SOLIDWORKS Flow Simulation

In Simulation by ateworks

Competing who’s paper plane flies the farthest and highest is part of everyone’s childhood memory. But how do we validate our our paper plane design is achieving optimal performance? How to fly high and far enough? With a little bit of help using SOLIDWORKS Flow Simulation, you definitely can fly higher and farther.

Below is a paper plane example that we created in SOLIDWORKS.


Using this simple illustration, we are going to investigate the aerodynamic fluids effect on the flying plane when the paper plane flies.

A little tweak to the model we remain half the model with an elevated angle of 16o.


Quick Knowledge:
How does a paper plane works?


As the paper plane launch from our hand, the swing moment of our hand will produce the Thrust for the plane to move forwards. The wind motion that opposes the motion of plane will create a Drag to stop the plane.

Due to the airfoil shape of the paper plane, as the motion of wind across the body of paper plane, it will create a pressure different in the top and bottom region that create a Lift on the paper plane. The mass of the plane will create a Weight impose by the gravity pulling the paper plane downward.

We will then simulate a scenario during the flight of a paper plane, assuming that the paper plane fly forward with a velocity of 5m/s. We will run 3 different similar studies to check the performance of our paper plane.


Now, let’s look at the results of analysis for our first configuration.

Configuration 1


Pressure plots on the wings

Pressure plots on the wings

We are interested in the pressure difference between the top and bottom region that create the LIFT force that keep the plane stay gliding in the air. The difference in value of pressure will determine the Lift of the paper plane and a wide and uniform distribution will ensure a good gliding of the plane.

Configuration 02
Add wing flap flipping downward on both wings.

Configuration 2

Pressure plots on wings


Configuration 03
Add wing flaps flipping upward on both wings.


Pressure plots on wings


Comparing 3 different configurations

Configuration 01 Configuration 02 Configuration 03
paper-plane-configuration-01 paper-plane-configuration-02 paper-plane-configuration-03

Configuration 01 have a decent distribution in the pressure region on the wing, we should be expecting the paper plane to fly in a straight course for a while. This configuration will serve as a bench mark to the upcoming configuration

Configuration 02 seems to have higher pressure in the middle of the wings as well as a more concentrated pressure region. We should be expecting the plane to fly higher compare to configuration 01 as the lift force is higher in this case. However, due to the low pressure region at the tail of the paper plane, it might results in higher drag force as the orientation of the paper plane changes along the flight, hence, the paper plane might not fly as far.

Configuration 03 has a high pressure region on the top face of the wings tail. This will probably cause the plane to make a sharo-turn in the air and topple and fail slight moment after the launch.

With all these information on hand and different case study carried out, we can definitely come out with the best paper plane that flies furthest and highest.

So, next time you want to build a paper plane. Make sure you get it validate in SOLIDWORKS Flow before building it.


For More Information
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