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Why Do Finite Element Analysis?











This book describes the capabilities of finite element analysis (FEA). The aim is to help the reader to decide whether analysis, and particularly FEA, is worthwhile in his/her business. It is assumed that the reader has little knowledge of the FE technique, but has an overview of the analysis for which it might be used.

The FE method has been used with great success to solve many types of problems including:

  • Stress analysis
  • Dynamic analysis
  • Heat transfer

Various applications will be described in this booklet, but the level of detail for each will reflect its relative usage. The argument for and against the use of FEA will be based mainly upon stress analysis, since this is by far the most common application.

During the 1970’s FEA was introduced to manufacturing industry mainly by computer bureau, whose prime interest was in selling computer time. In their enthusiasm to introduce a new technique, its limitations were sometimes glossed over. Some first time users were left with little more than a big bill at the end of their analysis, leading to a distrust of the method. Since then there have been major advances in the technique, and many limitations have been removed. Now that FEA is widely accepted and recognized as a useful tool, it is possible to be more candid without appearing to condemn the method as a whole.

Given unlimited computer resources, the power of the FE method to solve stress and other field problems is almost unbounded. Of course computer resources are limited and the technique still has scope for further development. The development of FEA and the availability of the required computer power have been linked, but the analysis technique has always been one jump ahead. The basic FE method was conceived long before its application to real engineering problems was made practicable by the development of the digital computer. Techniques for nonlinear analysis were available before computer costs had fallen to a level that allowed widespread application. As in many other sisciplines, leading edge technology is expensive and requires a higher level of expertise. Many difficulties in the first applications of FE arose from the need to be frugal in the use of elements, in order to limit computer costs and turnaround time. Advances in computers, in terms of power and decreasing costs, have removed this obstacle for most applications. The development of computer graphics and the improved user friendliness of the software have made model creation, checking and results interpretation far simpler.

It is recommended that the viability of FEA for any application for which it has previously been rejected should be reviewed regularly.

Contents

Introduction

Benefits of Analysis

Finite Element Analysis

The Development of the Finite Element Method
Capabilities of Finite Element Programs
Structural Analysis
Heat Transfer
Other Analysis Types
Coupled Analysis
Interfaces with CAD
Results from Finite Element Analysis
Presentation of Finite Element Results
Accuracy

Other Analysis Methods

Traditional Theoretical Methods
Experimental Analysis
Finite Element Methods
Boundary Element Methods
Computational Fluid Dynamics
Codes of Practice

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About

D. Baguley & D. R. Hose

First Published - 1994

Softback 34 pages