Finite Element Analysis (FEA) is an indispensable tool for many industries in today’s technologically advanced world. Apart from manufacturing and research and development (R&D), it has become extremely important in the creation and testing of prototype designs. Many engineering firms have whole teams dedicated to only handling the processes of FEA. Let’s look at what’s finite element analysis, its procedure, application, types, and benefits.

What is Finite Element Analysis?

Finite Element Analysis or FEA uses simulation and numerical mathematic techniques of a physical phenomenon to help you design and visualize products and projects. The process is at the core of a variety of disciplines, such as mechanical engineering. 

It’s used to develop the software’s simulation, reduce the creation of physical prototypes, and run virtual experiments and simulations to optimize their designs. 

It requires understanding complex mathematical equations such as partial differential and variable equations to fully grasp and master the method. It’s a leading technique that quickly reduces the cost of production, waste and increases production efficiency for industries and businesses. 

Procedure 

The Finite Element Analysis uses algorithms that are integrated into simulation software like ANSYS. The computer-aided design (CAD) software makes working on complex analyses and designs easier for engineers and designers. 

The simulation generates a mesh or grid that contains several small elements that make up the overall design or shape. This creates a series of mathematical points that can be produced into a three-dimensional model for closer assessment and analysis. You can alter the intensity of the mesh based on the complexity of your design and project needs. 

This software allows you to run calculations to produce final results and structural objects. You can change the shapes, designs and determine exact temperatures thanks to the FEA method. The points on the mesh or grid allow you to increase design accuracy and complexity for better final products and results.

Types of Finite Element Analysis

Dynamic Finite Element Analysis

A dynamic finite element analysis is great for analyzing systems that have moving parts but are not being repeatedly used over a large period. This type of analysis will provide loads, strains, and stress distributions that do not directly align with the geometry of your problem. 

This makes the calculations relatively inexpensive since you only need to perform one calculation every time the part is used in your design. Dynamic finite element analyses are ideal for calculating stress concentrations or applied loads at joints where the geometry does not readily repeat itself.

Static Finite Element Analysis

A static finite element analysis is ideal for analyzing structural systems with no moving parts where the same geometry is not reused every time. This type of analysis will provide loads, strains, and stress distributions directly related to your design. 

The only drawback to this type of analysis is that the calculations will be computationally expensive. However, it’ll be much cheaper by using a pre-developed code or performing multiple analyses on the same geometry with different material properties.

Thermal Finite Element Analysis

This is performed to test the thermal conductivity and thermal fluid dynamics of the product/components. In thermal analysis, heat strain is applied to the product. In other words, either steady thermal energy is applied, or the strains are changed over time to determine the resistance of your product on varying levels of heat.

Hybrid Finite Element Analysis

A hybrid finite element analysis is ideal for analyzing systems undergoing simultaneous loads or motions over time. This type of analysis will provide loads, strains, and stress distributions directly related to your geometry and the applied loads. However, it will also calculate stress at locations where the geometry does not repeat itself. 

This gives you information about how stress concentrations may change based on different times and locations in the system. A drawback of this type of analysis is that if there is more than one material in your system, it may take longer to perform multiple analyses for each.

Linear Static Analysis

It’s an FEA simulation calculating forces in a structure versus time format, providing knowledge for the required input for a Dynamic Analysis. Ideal for static analysis, light material loading, and sensitivity studies. Linear Static Analysis will be done during the design process to determine whether or not your structure will support its intended use load(s). It’s also used to determine whether some parts may need additional supports to carry their loads, etc.

Linear Dynamic Analysis

This calculates the maximum forces in a structure versus time to determine whether the structure meets deflection, vibration, acceleration, and noise requirements—ideal for vibration analysis and dynamic structural design.

Multi-Body Dynamic Analysis  

This simulation tool calculates the overall 3D effect of multiple moving objects or systems interacting with others. For instance, ships in convoys, cranes connected by an overhead crane rail system, and mechanical equipment exposed to the vibrations of nearby mining equipment. It’s ideal for simulations where several objects are closely connected.

Applications of Finite Element Analysis

The finite element method, also known as an effective modeling method, does more than initially promised. Its applications are no longer limited to the aerospace and civil engineering industry. 

The industrial applications of the method are endless and are finally reaching their full potential. From mechanical engineering, electromagnetic field, biomathematics to business management, all industries are hopping on the finite element analysis train.

Benefits for Businesses 

Equation-based representation allows businesses to determine any potential problems with the design of their product. With the help of FEA, businesses can determine how their product will respond to different stimuli or react in different real-life situations. The method is widely used by structural engineers, industrial designers, physicists, chemists, and materials scientists.

It saves time and resources because it’s easier to analyze functional designs before creating the actual products. Construction companies, aerospace industries, and many other businesses rely on FEA to determine potential weaknesses or structural issues with their models. It also allows businesses to analyze their models for any safety concerns.

Whether you want to benefit from FEA, 3D printing, or any other engineering design services, you can reach out to Connekt. LLC. Their experienced team of mechanical design engineers can help you with your products. Their team has over 35 years of experience in engineering design services like Finite Element Analysis, rapid prototyping, plastic injection molding, and much more.

Contact them today to learn more about their mechanical engineering design services in the Bay Area.

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