This article presents a numerical study on the settling of uniform spheres in liquids by means of the discrete element method. The effects of particle and liquid properties, such as particle size, Hamaker constant, liquid density, and viscosity, on the formation of packed beds or cakes were studied in terms of packing fraction, radial distribution function (RDF), and coordination number (CN). The results showed that the packing fraction of a cake increases with increasing particle size but decreases with increasing the Hamaker constant, liquid density, and viscosity. RDF and CN also change correspondingly: packings with lower packing fraction generally have RDFs with fewer peaks and smaller mean CNs. A good correlation between packing fraction and other structural properties was identified. The analysis of the particle-particle and liquid-particle interactions showed that the packing properties are mainly affected by the ratio of the interparticle cohesion to the effective gravity of particles. The previously proposed equation linking packing fraction with the interparticle forces has been extended to incorporate the impact-induced pressure force in a settling process. Based on the modified equation, the effects of key variables on the relationship between packing fraction and particle size were re-examined for general application. © 2011 American Institute of Chemical Engineers AIChE J, 2012.