Applies to: Volumes

Summary: Produces an extruded hexahedral mesh for 2.5D volumes.


Volume <range> Scheme Sweep [Source [Surface] <range>] [Target [Surface] <range>]
[Sweep_smooth {auto | smart_affine | linear | residual | winslow} ]
[Sweep_transform {LEAST_SQUARES | Translate}]
[Autosmooth_target {ON|off} ]

Volume <range> Scheme Sweep Vector <xval yval zval>

Volume <range> autosmooth_target [off|ON]

fixed_imprints [on|OFF]

smart smooth [ON|off] tolerance <val 0.0 to 1.0=0.2>

nlayers <val >=0=5>

Related Commands:

Set Multisweep [On|Off]

Multisweep Smoothing {ON|Off}

Multisweep Volume <range> Remove

Volume <range> Redistribute Nodes {ON|off}

[Set] Legacy Sweeper {On|Off}


The sweep algorithm can sweep general 2.5D geometries and can also do pure translation or rotations. A 2.5D geometry is characterized by source and target surfaces which are topologically similar. The hexahedral mesh is swept (extruded) between source and target along a single logical axis. Bounding the swept hexahedra between source and target surfaces, are the linking surfaces. Figures 1 and 2 show examples of source, target and linking surfaces.

Command Options: The user can specify the source and target surfaces. The user can also specify a geometric vector approximating the sweep direction, and let CUBIT determine the source and target surfaces. The user can specify just the source surfaces, and let cubit guess the target, or "scheme auto" can also be used.

Figure 1. Sweep Volume Meshing

Figure 2. Multiple Linking Surface Volume Meshing with Scheme Sweep

In general, the procedure for using the sweep scheme is to first mesh the source surfaces. Any surface meshing scheme may be employed. Figure 1 displays swept meshes involving mapped and paved source surfaces. Linking surfaces must have either mapping or submapping schemes applied. The sweep algorithm can also handle multiple surfaces linking the source surface and the target surfaces. An example of this is shown in Figure 2. Note that for the multiple- linking-surface meshing case, the interval requirement is that the total number of intervals along each multiple edge path from the source surface to the target surface must be the same for each path. Once the appropriate mesh is applied to the source surface and intervals assigned, the mesh command may be issued.

In many cases auto-scheme selection can simplify this process by recognizing sweepable geometries and automatically select source and target surfaces. If the source and target surfaces are not specified, CUBIT attempts to automatically select them. CUBIT also automatically sets curve and vertex types in an attempt to make the mesh of the linking surfaces lead from a source surface to a target surface. These automatic selections may occasionally fail, in which case the user must manually select the source/target surfaces, or some of the curve and vertex types. After making some of these changes, the user should again set the volume scheme to sweep and attempt to mesh.

Occasionally the user must also adjust intervals along curves, in addition to the usual surface interval matching requirements. For a given pair of source/target surfaces, there must be the same number of hexahedral layers between them regardless of the path taken. This constrains the number of edges along curves of linking surfaces. For example, in Figure 1 right, the number of intervals through the holes must be the same as along the outer shell.

Propagate_bias Option: The propagate_bias option attempts to preserve the source bias by propagating bias mesh schemes from the curves of the source surface to the curves of the target surface.

Sweep_transform Option: Swept meshes are created by projecting points between the source and target surfaces using affine transformations and then connecting them to form hexahedra. The method used to calculate the affine transformations is set using the sweep_transform option.

Least_squares: If the least_squares option is selected then affine transformations between the source and target are calculated using a least squares method.

translate: If the translate option is selected then a simple translate affine transformation is calculated based upon the centroid of the source and target.

Sweep_smooth Option: Note: This option is available only in Legacy mode. The command 'set legacy sweeper on|off controls the mode. Legacy mode is OFF by default.

To ensure adequate mesh quality, optional smoothing schemes are available to reposition the interior nodes. The sweep tool permits five types of smoothing that are set with the following command prior to meshing a volume whose mesh scheme is sweep:

Linear: If this option is selected, no layer smoothing is performed. The node positions are determined strictly by the affine transformation from the previous layer. Good quality swept meshes can be constructed using “linear” provided the volume geometry and meshed linking surfaces permit the volume mesh to be created by a translation, scaling, and/or rotation of the source mesh. Volumes for which this is nearly true may also produce acceptable quality with “linear”. As one would expect, this option generates swept meshes more quickly than the other sweep smooth options. This option is rarely needed since the next option produces better results with little time penalty.

Smart_affine: The “smart_affine” option does minimal smoothing of the interior nodes. Affine transformations are used to project the source and target surfaces to the middle surface of the volume. The position of the middle surface nodes is the average of the projected nodes from the source and target surfaces. The error in projecting from source and target is computed, and this error is linearly distributed back to the source and target.

Residual: The “residual” method is often used for meshing volumes that cannot be swept with the “smart linear” method. It tends to produce better quality meshes than the “smart linear” method while running faster than the Winslow-based smoother. The sweeping algorithm uses an affine transformation to calculate the interior nodes’ positions, but the mesh on the linking surface determines the positions of the nodes on the boundary of the layer. For the “residual” method, CUBIT calculates corrective adjustments for interior nodes using the “residuals” from boundary nodes. The “residual” is defined as the distance between the boundary node’s position (as determined by the surface mesh) and the boundary node’s ideal position (as determined by the affine transformation of the previous layer). Cubit computes the residual forward from the source and backward from the target to get best the possible node position.

Winslow: Smooth scheme “winslow” smooths each layer using a weighted, elliptic smoother. The weights are computed from the source mesh; they help maintain any biased spacing that occurs on the source mesh. For example, one might want to use the “winslow” option if the source was a biased mesh that was created using scheme circle. The biasing of the outer elements of the source mesh may be destroyed if one of the other smooth options is used. The interior nodes are initially place using the residual method.

AUTO: This is the default for the sweep_smooth option. “auto” causes the Sweeper to automatically choose between “smart_affine” and “residual.” Auto will choose “off” if the layer needs little or no smoothing or “residual” if it needs smoothing. Scheme “auto” does not guarantee that no negative Jacobians are produced. This option produces acceptable results in most cases. If it fails to produce a quality mesh, then choose one of the other sweep smooth options.

If none of these smooth schemes result in adequate mesh quality, one can consider trying one of the volume smoothing schemes such as condition number or mean ratio.

Autosmooth_target Option and Command

During sweeping, a quad mesh is placed on each source surface.  Then the collection of nodes & quads from all the source surfaces is projected onto the target surface.  The autosmooth_target command or sweep command options controls the placement of the nodes onto the target surface.

Volume <range> autosmooth_target [off|ON]

fixed_imprints [on|OFF]

smart smooth [ON|off] tolerance <val 0.0 to 1.0=0.2>

nlayers <val >=0=5>

Issuing the command “Volume <id> autosmooth_target off”, or using these options in the sweep command,  will project the source nodes onto the target without any subsequent smoothing to improve quality.  The result is that the relative placement of the nodes on the target will be as close to identical as possible to the relative placement of the node on the sources.  This should be used when sweeping models that are very thin, and smoothing of the target could result in significant skew introduced in the thin layers in the sweep.  Axisymmetric models might also want to turn OFF the autosmooth_target so that the nodes are identically placed on the symmetry plane surfaces.

Issuing the command “Volume <id> autosmooth_target on”, or using it as an option in the sweep command,  will call a surface smoother after the initial projection of the nodes onto the target in order to improve surface element quality.  This smoothing does not consider hex element quality, only quality of the target surface mesh.  This command will smooth all nodes on the target surface.  Adding the “fixed_imprint on” keyword onto the command will cause the target nodes which are projections of source nodes on source curves and vertices to remain fixed during smoothing.  Only target nodes, which are projections of source surface nodes will be smoothed.  The “smart smooth on” option provides further control to the user.  If “smart smooth” is turned on, target surface smoothing will only move nodes which are within “nlayers” of a target surface quad element that has a scaled Jacobian quality measure less than the specified “tolerance” value.


While the basic sweeping algorithm requires a single target surface, the sweeping algorithm can also handle multiple target surfaces. The multisweep algorithm works by recognizing possible mesh and topology conflicts between the source and target surfaces and works to resolve these conflicts through the use of the virtual geometry capabilities in CUBIT. Figure 4 shows some examples of volumes which have been meshed with the multisweep algorithm.

Figure 4. Examples of Multisweep meshes.

Linear: If this option is active and/or target surfaces are omitted from the scheme setting command, CUBIT will determine source and target surfaces (See Automatic Scheme Selection). Sweeping can be further automated using the "sweep groups" command.