Mesh Pillowing

Mesh pillowing is a mesh refinement technique that inserts a layer or 'pillow' of elements around the boundary of an enclosed mesh. It can be used to improve mesh quality while preserving the outer boundary of the selected element set. Mesh Pillowing can be used to quickly perform a number of meshing tasks, such as inserting a uniform boundary layer a specified distance from an outer boundary, or inserting a ring of elements around a hole.

Figure 1: A single hex before (a) and after (b) a pillow operation. The far right (c) depicts a pillow operation with the front surface designated as a 'through' surface.

During a typical pillow operation, the user selects a set of elements, called a 'shrink set', to define what elements will be operated on. All elements on the outer boundary of the shrink set are then shrunk towards the center of the set. New elements are then created to fill the gap between the original boundary and the shrunk boundary. The newly created elements form the pillow around the selected shrink set. Figure 1a and 1b show an example of a pillow operation performed on a single hex. Geometry surfaces, or mesh element faces can be specified as through surfaces for the pillowing operation. This means that the pillow will extend through the selected surfaces, and no new elements will be created along them. Figure 1c shows the effect of pillowing a single hex with one surface selected as a through surface.

In some cases a shrink set may not be valid due to the geometry of a specific region.  As the exterior nodes of the shrink set move towards the middle they must be able to maintain appropriate geometric associations.  Nodes on vertices must move along curves, nodes on curves must move along surfaces.  If there are multiple curves or surfaces along which an exterior node might travel, then the ownership is ambiguous and the pillowing will fail.

Using the optional distance keyword with a specified value allows manual control of the distance that each boundary element is shrunk towards the center of the shrink set. If no distance value is specified, an appropriate value is calculated for each element. If a distance value is specified, all newly created nodes will have their position fixed by default. This allows the user to smooth the mesh without altering the node positions of the newly created hexes. If the optional unfix_nodes keyword is used, this default behavior is changed, and any smooth operations will alter the newly created node locations. By default, a smooth operation is automatically performed following any pillow operation unless the optional no_smooth keyword is used.

Similar analogous commands are available for creating a pillow around a set of two dimensional faces.


To use mesh pillowing

  1. On the Command Panel, click on Mesh.
  2. Click on Volume, Surface, Curve, Vertex, Hex or Quad.
  3. Click on the Refine action button.
  4. Select Pillowing from the drop-down menu.
  5. Enter the appropriate value for the selected ID. This can also be done using the Pick Widget function.
  6. Enter in any other appropriate settings.
  7. Click Apply.

Pillow Hex <ids> [ Through { [Surface <ids>][Face <ids>][Tri <ids>] } ] [ Distance <value> ] [ Unfix_nodes ] [ No_smooth ]

Pillow Face <ids> [ Through Curve <ids> ] [ Distance <value> ] [ Unfix_nodes ] [No_smooth]

Figure 2: Example model using pillow operations to create ordered nodes a specified distance around the boundary of a mesh.