Introduction to Finite Element Analysis

What is the Finite-Element-Analysis (FEA) or the Finite-Element-Method (FEM) and what is it needed for? With the help of FEA virtual components can be calculated on a computer and deflections and stresses can be simulated under the influence of forces. The component geometry can be imported directly from a CAD-program. For the analysis it is irrelevant to which field (e.g. automotive engineering, medical technology, …) the components belong. The calculation results can be used for estimating the mechanical strength. The advantages of the method are obvious: These so called virtual prototypes help to save development-time and costs before the actual manufacturing starts, since possible constructional flaws can be detected and avoided.

The basis of the FE-simulation is engineering mechanics, which has already been mastered by the ancient Greeks. However, it was the invention of the computer that made it possible to handle very comprehensive and complex calculations and solve the resulting large systems of equations with several thousand unknowns.

From the simple mechanical deflection to the interaction of solids and liquids exposed to all kinds of physical influences like pressure, temperature and magnetic fields, everything can be simulated! Therefore, the FEM is one of the most versatile tools available today.

Every simulation is a simplification of reality. Regardless of how much money and time you invest, a serious test cannot be replaced by anything else, but a good simulation can improve the results.

In the following articles you will find an overview of the five parts of the FEA:

  1. Import
  2. Preprocessing
  3. Solver
  4. Postprocessing
  5. Export

Extract from the book “Finite Element Analysis for Engineers”

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