A Brief Guide to Finite Element Analysis

While physical behaviour of simple structures can be described by means of analytical mathematical equations, more complex cases require the implementation of Finite Element Analysis. What is FEA? How does it work? Why and when might you need FEA code checking software? If you are eager to find out answers to these questions, stay with us. In this article, we’re explaining the fundamental things concerning FEA, and even more.

A Brief Guide to Finite Element Analysis

FEA: What it Means

In a nutshell, Finite Element Analysis, or FEA, is a numerical method for solving engineering problems. It is an imitation of physical behaviour by means of a mathematical technique known as FEM. FEA makes up the core of mechanical engineering and some other related disciplines. In addition, it is utilized in simulation software engineering.

FEA can be explained by the fact that a lot of physical phenomena that are happening around are easily translated into mathematical equations, for example, fluid dynamics or thermal analysis. In engineering, FEA applies mathematical models in order to figure out and estimate the impact of the possible real-world conditions on an object or its part. All in all, FEA allows you to test the impact of varying conditions such as fatigue, vibration, stress, creep, and heat on your design.

FEA: Why and When Use it

First and foremost, engineers utilize FEA to simulate physical behaviour, which means a considerable reduction of the need to produce multiple physical prototypes. Next, carried out with the help of the specialized software, it enables engineers to identify potential issues at the design stage, for instance, areas of tension. Not to mention, taking advantage of it means efficient optimization of components in the process of design.

It goes without saying that FEA has the highest value when performed in the very early beginning of the structure development process. However, engineers often utilize FEA multiple times in the process of development, which enables advanced assessments throughout the entire development phase.

FEA: Fields of Application

Today, Finite Element Analysis is widely implemented in literally every engineering discipline, including electronics, manufacturing, automotive, energy, aerospace, biomedical, and plastics industries.

FEA: How it Works

The simulations created with the help of FEA consist of multiple elements. Combined, these pieces make up the product under analysis, each of them being the object of complex mathematical calculations. Basically, this analysis is aimed at converting differential equations into linear ones.

Differential equations are extremely essential since they are formulated in the same language as the laws of physics. It requires a bit of being science-savvy to understand how a physical law is modified into a system of linear equations, however, here’s a general outline of this immensely complex process:

  • For starters, the physical problem is determined and laws are applied.
  • Secondly, the geometry of the structure is identified. The area taken up by it is referred to as the ‘domain’, while the area surrounding it — the ‘boundary’.
  • After that, temperatures, pressures and other external impacts affecting them both are figured out. They are referred to as ‘boundary conditions’.
  • Next, the tool identifies the so-called ‘initial conditions’ of the structure.
  • Now, the domain is divided into small elements, the entire set of which is referred to as the ‘mesh’. Although tinier elements mean more accurate results, a big quantity of elements requires more memory and processing time.
  • Next, using equations along with the boundary conditions, the software produces multiple linear equations.
  • Finally, these equations are processed by the machine and the received variables are transferred to files.

Major Types of FEA

Depending on their goal, there exists a variety of FEA subtypes. Let’s take a look at the major ones.

1. Vibration & Impact

This analysis is applied to estimate how a structure will react to vibration and impact, for instance, whether it will survive when it falls from a certain height.

2. Fatigue

It is a highly effective tool for estimating the effects of cyclic loading known as fatigue on components. It also enables approximate assessment of the product life and areas that are likely to crack.

3. Heat Transfer

This one is utilized to estimate the effect of heat on an object’s strength.

4. Contact

The object of this type of FEA is the impact of components contacting each other.

5. Buckling

FEA is also utilized to figure on the load at which a product might partially or entirely buckle.

6. Creep and relaxation

It is implemented to predict to what extent the object can eventually stretch.

The Bottom Line

In conclusion, with FEA, it is possible to road test any design before producing physical prototypes. The design can be re-tested multiple times, all virtually, saving engineers a lot of time and effort as well as reducing development costs.

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