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Rocky allows digitized particle geometries, including concave shapes, to be used in DEM simulations

Have you ever thought about making a truly realistic DEM simulation of your unique particle shape?

Wouldn’t it be great if you could accurately replicate concave-shaped materials, like a potato chip or a hinge?

Now you can!

With the current version of Rocky DEM, concave and more shapes are not only possible but are easier than ever to replicate and use within your DEM simulations.

By importing a scanned particle geometry of any shape into the Rocky simulation software, you can generate a 3D model identical to the original material.

In this manner, you can reproduce any unique geometry, from convex to concave shapes, perforated to whole shapes, and anything in between. Rocky is the first Discrete Element Modeling (DEM) software that offers this function, and it is already available in the 3.8 release.

Real-World particle on the scanner (above left); 3d geometry model imported into rocky dem (above center); simulation using new particle shape (above right)

This new function provides users a method for creating a more accurate particle shape so that they can analyze and study the bulk behavior precisely in the simulation.

This new function captures additional geometric-dependent features such as particle interlocking, accurate settling and bed void fraction, and more accurate particle-to-particle interactions.

And recent updates to the contact algorithms enable Rocky to correctly interpret concave shapes — the first commercially available DEM software to successfully do so.

The user can either create a CAD model of the shape or use a scanner to obtain one if the Rocky library of shapes is insufficient. The geometry scanner process involves two steps.

First, it is necessary to generate the digitized image using your choice of scanner that can produce a .stl file, which is a format supported by the Rocky software.

Then, you can import the particle shape .stl file, regardless of size, into Rocky, which transforms it into a 3D polyhedral shape for Rocky simulations. The 3D model generated can then be used to analyze the granular flow behavior within your equipment, helping you to better predict flow velocity, particle breakage, and more.

Concave particle shape examples

It is important to note that this feature wouldn’t be feasible without Rocky’s advance solver technology.

The GPU processing capabilities included within Rocky drastically reduces the amount of time it takes to calculate the various faces, contacts, and movements that a unique particle shape can include, making it possible to produce a complex shape that can be simulated in a reasonable amount of time.

“The development of this feature in Rocky was driven by our strategy of producing increasingly realistic simulations that can be positioned as “state-of-the-art” in the world of DEM simulations” says Rahul Bharadwaj, Vice-President of Engineering and Business Development at Rocky DEM, Inc. “It is with Rocky’s advanced solvers that make complex features like the scanned particle import and concave particle replication feasible; this is just another example of our team’s commitment to continually improve upon the Rocky software base.”

Rocky DEM

Mining and manufacturing organizations all over the world are choosing Rocky DEM software to evaluate their bulk material handling systems because the software simulates granular flow quickly, accurately, and with more similarity to real-world conditions. With its ability to create realistic shapes (round and non-round particles) and simulate the behavior of granular flow just like real particles, including sticky and dust-like conditions, Rocky can replicate nearly any type of material handling environment imaginable. Rocky DEM software is used in many different material handling industries, including mining, metal, agriculture, and pharmaceuticals.


Rocky is a powerful, 3D discrete element modeling (DEM) program that quickly and accurately simulates particle behavior within a conveyor chute, mill, or other materials handling system. Rocky analyzes media flow patterns and energy absorption rates, particle breakage, and energy spectra analysis. The software optimizes life expectancy of conveyor belts and components, minimizes material spillage in a design, and reduces the need for dust control and suppression, among numerous other applications. This software is a revolutionary way to handle a problem through computer simulation.

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