How to use the Material Table to manage Contact Materials

In Vortex Studio, the Material table allows users to define properties of interactions between different Contact Materials assigned to different dynamic objects during simulation. This page is a short guide that explains the most common uses of the Material Table.

Accessing the Material Table Panel

First of all, to display or edit the currently active Material Table, you need to:

  1. Navigate to the top-right corner of the Vortex Editor and click on the Panels button.
  2. From there, select Material Table. This will open a panel in the bottom part of the screen that displays the current Material Table.
  3. In this panel, the Material Table can be edited. See Contact Material for precise details on how to create, edit and save Material Tables and their Contact Material properties.

Default Material Table

Vortex Studio supplies a default Material Table file which is automatically loaded when opening the Vortex Editor. It covers a number of common generic Contact Materials which can be useful for testing purposes. However, the default Material Table can easily be overridden by a custom one, if desired. To do this, simply:

  1. Navigate to the top-left corner of the Vortex Editor and click the Menu button. 
  2. Then, click on Options.
  3. In the window that appears, click on Setup
  4. At the top, you can browse and select a different vxmaterials file to be the new default Material Table.
  5. For this change to take effect, you need to close and restart the Vortex Editor application.

After changing the default Material Table, its Contact Materials will be available for selection in any Contact Material dropdown menu.

Changing the default Material Table only affects the Editor environment. For actual simulation content used for a simulator, the Material Table must be specified at the content level.

Working with a Material Table in a Scene

To specify a Material Table to use in simulation content, one must be specified in a Scene. In particular, by using the Material Table extension. Here is how to do this:

  1. Open the desired Scene document, or create a new one.
  2. From the toolbox, add the Material Table extension to the scene. It can be found in the Simulation category.
  3. The extension contains one parameter, the Material table file. Click on the Browse button to browse and select an existing vxmaterials file.
  4. When a file is selected, it will be loaded and the Material Table panel will open.

This will load the Material Table in the Vortex Editor. As long as the Editor is open, or until a different scene with a Material Table is loaded, the Contact Materials from this Material Table will be available instead of the Editor's default.

Working with a Material Table in a Mechanism or Assembly

Usually, since Contact Materials are dynamic properties, they are needed in dynamic-oriented content such as Mechanisms and Assemblies. To specify a Material Table to use when working on this type of content, we need to refer back to the two last approaches described earlier.

  • Editor only: Using the default Material Table defined in the Vortex Editor options.
  • Simulation content: Using a scene's Material Table. To use it in other documents such as mechanisms and assemblies, make sure to first load a Scene document containing the desired Material Table. This table will be loaded by the Editor, even if the scene document tab is closed.

Using Contact Materials from a Material Table in Vortex Studio

The Material Table defines different Contact Materials that can be assigned to different dynamic objects. Here are typical uses:

Collision Geometries

Each collision geometry of a part can be assigned a Contact Material. To assign it:

  1. Open the desired Assembly in the Editor.
  2. In the Explorer, navigate to the desired Part and click on a Collision Geometry.
  3. Under the Collision detection section, go to the Material parameter. Click on the small arrow to open a dropdown list with all of the Contact Materials from the current Material Table.

This is the main use of contact materials. Indeed, it is useful in a variety of cases: 

  • For dynamic or static props in a simulation environment.
  • For the ground properties of a Terrain collision geometry.
  • For accurate vehicle or equipment behavior regarding interaction with other objects.
  • etc.

Tire Model

When defining a vehicle using the Vehicle System, the tire properties of a wheel can be defined explicitly. To assign a Contact Material to a tire, the Tire Model of a Tire Type extension must be used. Here is how to do so:

  1. Open the desired Mechanism or Assembly document containing a tire.
  2. In the Explorer, navigate to a Tire Type extension which you want to customize.
  3. The Tire Type should have one or more Tire Models. If not, you can create your own with the contextual menu when right-clicking the Tire Type extension.
  4. Select a tire Model. In the properties browser, locate the list of Ground Materials. Here, you can add any Contact Material from the current Material Table by using the dropdown list of a list item.