Article Categories
» Arts & Entertainment
» Automotive
» Business
» Careers & Jobs
» Education & Reference
» Finance
» Food & Drink
» Health & Fitness
» Home & Family
» Internet & Online Businesses
» Miscellaneous
» Self Improvement
» Shopping
» Society & News
» Sports & Recreation
» Technology
» Travel & Leisure
» Writing & Speaking

  Listed Article

  Category: Articles » Education & Reference » Science » Article
 

Finite Element Analysis: Introduction




By Steve Roensch

The following four-article series was published in a newsletter of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME). It serves as an introduction to the recent analysis discipline known as the finite element method. The author is an engineering consultant and expert witness specializing in finite element analysis.


FINITE ELEMENT ANALYSIS: Introduction
by Steve Roensch, President, Roensch & Associates

First in a four-part series


Finite element analysis (FEA) is a fairly recent discipline crossing the boundaries of mathematics, physics, engineering and computer science. The method has wide application and enjoys extensive utilization in the structural, thermal and fluid analysis areas. The finite element method is comprised of three major phases: (1) pre-processing, in which the analyst develops a finite element mesh to divide the subject geometry into subdomains for mathematical analysis, and applies material properties and boundary conditions, (2) solution, during which the program derives the governing matrix equations from the model and solves for the primary quantities, and (3) post-processing, in which the analyst checks the validity of the solution, examines the values of primary quantities (such as displacements and stresses), and derives and examines additional quantities (such as specialized stresses and error indicators).

The advantages of FEA are numerous and important. A new design concept may be modeled to determine its real world behavior under various load environments, and may therefore be refined prior to the creation of drawings, when few dollars have been committed and changes are inexpensive. Once a detailed CAD model has been developed, FEA can analyze the design in detail, saving time and money by reducing the number of prototypes required. An existing product which is experiencing a field problem, or is simply being improved, can be analyzed to speed an engineering change and reduce its cost. In addition, FEA can be performed on increasingly affordable computer workstations and personal computers, and professional assistance is available.

It is also important to recognize the limitations of FEA. Commercial software packages and the required hardware, which have seen substantial price reductions, still require a significant investment. The method can reduce product testing, but cannot totally replace it. Probably most important, an inexperienced user can deliver incorrect answers, upon which expensive decisions will be based. FEA is a demanding tool, in that the analyst must be proficient not only in elasticity or fluids, but also in mathematics, computer science, and especially the finite element method itself.

Which FEA package to use is a subject that cannot possibly be covered in this short discussion, and the choice involves personal preferences as well as package functionality. Where to run the package depends on the type of analyses being performed. A typical finite element solution requires a fast, modern disk subsystem for acceptable performance. Memory requirements are of course dependent on the code, but in the interest of performance, the more the better, with 512 Mbytes to 8 Gbytes per user a representative range. Processing power is the final link in the performance chain, with clock speed, cache, pipelining and multi-processing all contributing to the bottom line. These analyses can run for hours on the fastest systems, so computing power is of the essence.

One aspect often overlooked when entering the finite element area is education. Without adequate training on the finite element method and the specific FEA package, a new user will not be productive in a reasonable amount of time, and may in fact fail miserably. Expect to dedicate one to two weeks up front, and another one to two weeks over the first year, to either classroom or self-help education. It is also important that the user have a basic understanding of the computer's operating system.

Next month's article will go into detail on the pre-processing phase of the finite element method.

copyright 2005 Roensch & Associates. All rights reserved.
 
 
About the Author
Steve Roensch is a mechanical engineer with more than 20 years experience. He has served as an expert witness across many industries. Learn more about mechanical engineer expert witness services at www.FiniteElement.com.

Article Source: http://www.simplysearch4it.com/article/20039.html
 
If you wish to add the above article to your website or newsletters then please include the "Article Source: http://www.simplysearch4it.com/article/20039.html" as shown above and make it hyperlinked.



  Some other articles by Steve Roensch
Finite Element Analysis: Post-processing
The following four-article series was published in a newsletter of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) . It ...

Finite Element Analysis: Solution
The following four-article series was published in a newsletter of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) . It serves as an introduction ...

Finite Element Analysis: Pre-processing
The following four-article series was published in a newsletter of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) . It serves ...

Courtroom FEA: But my expert has hand calculations
Hand calculations are good. It is very important that design engineers do hand calculations. It is very important that engineering expert witnesses do hand calculations. For everything but the simplest of part geometries, hand ...

Courtroom FEA: But how does FEA work?
Many legal professionals are exposed to Finite Element Analysis (FEA) in the courtroom. Having a fundamental understanding of how the method works can ...

  
  Recent Articles
Software for Steam and Water properties
by Amit Bhaduri

Eugene Guth on Historians and the Scientific Approach
by Eugene Guth

Impossible=Possible
by Dr. Randy Wysong

Lectures on the History of Physics by Eugene Guth
by Eugene Guth

The Science Behind Consciousness
by Justin Kander

DNA Engineering
by Justin Kander

How Bad Can Virus Hoaxes Get
by Dalvin Rumsey

Choosing an Online DNA Testing Service
by Alex Blake

The Secrets of DNA
by Justin Kander

All 10 outstanding science fair tips.
by Madeline Binder

New Generation Carrier Network
by David Chow

Cryogenic Treatment Improves Drill Bits Wear Resistance
by Benjamin Gorlick

What Is So Great About Bees Anyway?
by Gerry