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Finite Element Analysis (FEA) is essentially a systematic computerized method of analyzing the effects of electromagnetic field, mechanical stresses (dynamic forces and loads), prolonged heating, thermal shocks and other payloads on mechanical products and their components.
Typically, a standard Finite Element Analysis technique includes durability or failure analysis, tolerance and dimensioning analysis, design optimization and various other tasks. FEA methods are mostly performed with software that delivers through the analysis of functional and physical aspects of a system, material, mechanism, design or product.
The advantages of Finite Element Analysis are huge - for example, it can be used to demonstrate a new design concept that would help the engineering team predict its possible real-world behavior under diverse load environments. Based on this analysis, any suitable alteration can be easily made before finalizing the drawing. And once the detailed CAD model is developed, the product engineering team can analyze the details with FEA, thus saving time and resources by limiting the number of prototypes required. Apart from that, any existing product that has been facing a field problem, or is undergoing upgrade can also be analyzed to speed up the process and limit the costs.
The biggest strength of Finite Element Analysis techniques is the sensitive software used to deliver in-depth and precise analysis of various physical and functional aspects of materials, systems, products, 3D CAD designs etc. For example, how a washing machine would operate or how durable its agitator (or for that matter, any other component) would be-- all these answers can be derived from FEA. Check out our case studies on FEA to know more.
Finite Element Analysis methods are essential for design consultants, original mechanical equipment manufacturers, fluid machinery equipment designers, research and development designers, civil engineers, and satellite & missile development programs.
FEA techniques are applied to solve a wide range of problems, but by far, one of the most common applications are structural FEA that can predict how a solid body would respond to electric, magnetic or mechanical forces. The structural FEA often amounts to penning down the individual "governing equations" that represent the material and its important characteristics, and then solving those equations for their corresponding physical components.
Finite Element Analysis method comprises of 3 distinct phases:
This is the opening phase of the FEA process- the one in which the team of analysts develop a finite element mesh to segment the subject geometry into multiple sub domains to allow mathematical analysis. The analysts then apply the important material properties as well as boundary conditions to each of the sub domains. The ultimate goals of this phase are to bring forth an accurate finite element mesh, allocate felicitous material properties and designate boundary conditions with loads and restraints.
In this phase, the software used in the FEA process derives the driving matrix equations from the model and then solve them individually for all the primary quantities. While both pre and post processing phases are time consuming and interactive by nature, the solution phase is more of a batch process that relies heavily on computer resources.
This is the third and final step of all FEA methods. After a finite element model is created, tested and the entire model is solved successfully, the team of analysts monitor the validity of the solutions in addition to closely examining the values of all primary quantities like stresses and displacements. They then extract and test the additional quantities like error indicators, specialized stresses etc.
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