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Basics of Finite Element Analysis
What is FEA (Finite Element Analysis)?
A complex problem is divided into a smaller and
simpler problems that can be solved by using the
existing knowledge of mechanics of materials and
mathematical tools
Why FEA ?
Modern mechanical design involves complicated shapes,
sometimes made of different materials that as a whole
cannot be solved by existing mathematical tools.
Engineers need the FEA to evaluate their designs
What is FEM (Finite Element Model)?
A 3D model prepared specifically for finite element
analysis
Ken Youssefi Mechanical Engineering Dept
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Basics of Finite Element Analysis
The process of dividing the model into small pieces is called meshing. The
behavior of each element is wellknown under all possible support and load
scenarios. The finite element method uses elements with different shapes.
Elements share common points called nodes.
Ken Youssefi Mechanical Engineering Dept., SJSU
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Ken Youssefi Mechanical Engineering Dept
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History of Finite Element Analysis
Finite Element Analysis (FEA) was first developed in 1943 by R.
Courant, who utilized the Ritz method of numerical analysis and
minimization of variational calculus.
A paper published in 1956 by M. J. Turner, R. W. Clough, H. C.
Martin, and L. J. Topp established a broader definition of
numerical analysis. The paper centered on the "stiffness and
deflection of complex structures".
By the early 70's, FEA was limited to expensive mainframe
computers generally owned by the aeronautics, automotive,
defense, and nuclear industries. Since the rapid decline in the cost
of computers and the phenomenal increase in computing power,
FEA has been developed to an incredible precision.
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Basics of Finite Element Analysis
ComputerAided Analysis
Stress analysis
Deflection (Stiffness) analysis
Nonlinear analysis
Thermal analysis temp. distribution
Vibration analysis frequency and mode shapes
Fatigue analysis (cyclic loading)
Buckling failure analysis
Perform drop test
Size and shape optimization
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Basics of Finite Element Analysis
Consider a cantilever beam shown.
Finite element analysis starts with an approximation of the region of
interest into a number of meshes (2D or 3D elements). Each mesh is
connected to associated nodes (black dots) and thus becomes a finite
element.
Node
Element
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Basics of Finite Element Analysis
After approximating the object by finite elements,
each node is associated with the unknowns to be
solved.
For the cantilever beam the displacements in x and
y directions would be the unknowns (2D mesh).
This implies that every node has two degrees of
freedom and the solution process has to solve 2n
degrees of freedom, n is the number of nodes.
Displacement Strain
Partial derivatives
Stress
Stress & Strain
relationship
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Example a plate under load
Derive and solve the system of equations for a plate loaded as
shown. Plate thickness is 1 cm and the applied load P
y
is constant
using two triangular elements,
P
y
Reaction
forces
U
1
thru U
8
,
displacements
in x and y
directions
.
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Example a plate under load
Displacement within the triangular element (2D) with three
nodes can be assumed to be linear.
u =
1
+
2
x +
3
y
v =
1
+
2
x +
3
y
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Example a plate under load
Displacement for each node,
Node 1
Node 2
Node 3
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Example a plate under load
Solve the equations simultaneously for and ,
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Example a plate under load
Apply the boundary conditions to determine the constants a,
b, and c for nodes I, 2, and 3 of element 1
2a = 40
Calculations:
a
1
= 40, a
2
= 0, a
3
= 0
b
1
=  4, b
2
= 4, b
3
= 0
c
1
= 10, c
2
= 0, c
3
= 10
Element 1
(1)
(2)
(3)
Evaluate the constants a, b, and c
10 4 0 0
node 1, x
1
= 0, y
1
= 0
node 2, x
2
=10, y
2
= 0
node 3, x
3
= 0, y
3
= 4
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Example
1
= (1)U
1
2a =40
a
1
=40, a
2
=0, a
3
=0
b
1
= 4, b
2
=4, b
3
=0
c
1
=10, c
2
=0, c
3
=10
Calculations
2
= (1/10)U
1
+ (1/10)U
3
3
= (1/4) U
1
+ (1/4) U
5
1
= (1)U
2
2
= (1/10)U
2
+ (1/10) U
4
3
= (1/4) U
2
+ (1/4) U
6
u
1
= U
1
, u
2
= U
3
, u
3
= U
5
,
v
1
= U
2
, v
2
= U
4
, v
3
= U
6
Change of notations
40 0 0
40
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Example
u
1
= U
1
+ [1/10 (U
1
) + (1/10) U
3
] x + [(1/4) U
1
+ (1/4) U
5
] y
v
1
= U
2
+ [1/10 (U
2
) + (1/10) U
4
] x + [(1/4) U
2
+ (1/4) U
6
] y
Calculation:
u =
1
+
2
x +
3
y
v =
1
+
2
x +
3
y
Substitute and
to obtain
displacements u and v for element 1.
1
= (1)U
1
2
= (1/10)U
1
+ (1/10)U
3
3
= (1/4) U
1
+ (1/4) U
5
1
= (1)U
2
2
= (1/10)U
2
+ (1/10) U
4
3
= (1/4) U
2
+ (1/4) U
6
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Example
Rewriting the equations in the matrix form,
u
1
= U
1
+ [1/10 (U
1
) + (1/10) U
3
] x + [(1/4) U
1
+ (1/4) U
5
] y
v
1
= U
2
+ [1/10 (U
2
) + (1/10) U
4
] x + [(1/4) U
2
+ (1/4) U
6
] y
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Example
Similarly the displacements within
element 2 can be expressed as,
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Example
The next step is to determine the strains using 2D strain
displacement relations,
Displacement Strain
Partial derivatives
Stress
Stress & Strain
relationship
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Example
Differentiate the displacement equation to obtain the strain
u
1
= U
1
+ [1/10(U
1
) + (1/10) U
3
] x + [(1/4) U
1
+ (1/4) U
5
] y
v
1
= U
2
+ [1/10(U
2
) + (1/10) U
4
] x + [(1/4) U
2
+ (1/4) U
6
] y
1
st
element
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Example
Element 2
2
nd
element
Normal & Shear components of stress (3D)
Normal stress is perpendicular to the cross section, (sigma).
Shear stress is parallel to the cross section, (tau).
3D
Element
x
y
z
xy
xz
yz
yx
zx
zy
Second subscript
indicates the positive
direction of the shear
stress
xy
First subscript indicates
the axis that is
perpendicular to the face
Due to equilibrium condition;
xy
=
yx
zy
=
yz
zx
=
xz
State of Stress
Three dimensional stress matrix
Two dimensional,
Plane Stress
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Stress & Strain Relationship
x
= (
x
/ E )  (
y
)  (
z
) = (
x
/ E )  (
y
/ E )  (
z
/ E )
y
= (
y
/ E )  (
x
)  (
z
) = (
y
/ E )  (
x
/ E )  (
z
/ E )
z
= (
z
/ E )  (
x
)  (
y
) = (
z
/ E )  (
x
/ E )  (
y
/ E )
Uniaxial state of stress
x
= (
x
/ E ),
y
= 
x
,
z
= 
x
x
0,
y
= 0 ,
z
= 0
Stresses in
terms of strains
Poisson ratio
Triaxial state of stress
Stress & Strain Relationship
There are many practical problems where the stress in the z
direction is zero, this is referred to as the state of Plane Stress,
biaxilal state of stress
G =
E
2(1 + )
=
xy
G
xy
Shear stress
Matrix
form
FEA Results  Principal Stresses
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Normal stresses on planes with no
shear stresses are maximum and they
are called principal stresses
1
,
2
,
and
3
, where
1
>
2
>
3
The three nonimaginary roots are the principal stresses
2
2
3
 (
x
+
y
+
z
)
2
+ (
x
y
+
x
z
+
y
z

xy

xz

yz
)

(
x
z
 2
xy
xz
yz

x
yz

y
xz

z
xy
) = 0
2
2 2
2
3
 (
x
+
y
)
2
+ (
x
y

xy
)
= 0
Plane stress, two principal stresses,
3
= 0
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Displacement Strain
Partial derivatives
Stress
Stress & Strain
relationship
Material
Ductile Yield strength of the material is used in
designing components
Brittle Ultimate strength in tension and
compression is used in designing components
Finite element software provides you with,
maximum normal stress (largest principle stress),
maximum shear stress and von Mises stress
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Ken Youssefi Mechanical Engineering Dept
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Failure Theories Ductile Materials
Maximum Shear Stress
Maximum shear stress theory (Tresca 1886)
Yield strength of a material is used to design components made of
ductile material
(
max
)
component
> ( )
obtained from a tension test at the yield point
Failure
(
max
)
component
<
S
y
2
To avoid failure
max
=
S
y
2 n
n = Safety factor
Design equation
= S
y
S
y
2
=
= S
y
=S
y
Mohr circle
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Failure Theories Ductile Material
von Mises Stress
Distortion energy theory (von MisesHencky)
t
Simple tension test (S
y
)
t
(S
y
)
t
(S
y
)
h
>>
Distortion contributes to
failure much more than
change in volume.
(total strain energy) (strain energy due to hydrostatic stress) = strain energy
due to angular distortion > strain energy obtained from a tension test at the
yield point failure
Hydrostatic state of stress (S
y
)
h
h
Ken Youssefi Mechanical Engineering Dept
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von Mises Stress
2D case (plane stress),
3
= 0
= (
1
2
1
2
+
2
2
) < S
y
Where is von Mises stress
=
S
y
n
Design equation
(
1
2
)
2
+ (
1
3
)
2
+
(
2
3
)
2
2
< S
y
3D case, to avoid failure
Ken Youssefi Mechanical Engineering Dept.,
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Failure Theories Brittle Materials
Maximum Principal Stress
Characteristics of brittle materials;
Perform two tests, one in compression and one in tension,
draw the Mohrs circles for both tests.
Compression test
S
uc
Failure envelope
The component is safe if the state of stress falls inside the
failure envelope.
1
>
2
and
3
= 0
Tension test
S
ut
1
Stress state
2. S
uc
>> S
ut
1. S
ut
S
yt
3. Percent elongation < 5%
Ken Youssefi Mechanical Engineering Dept.
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Failure Theories Brittle Materials
1
S
ut
S
uc
S
ut
S
uc
Safe
Safe
Safe Safe
S
ut
Cast iron data
Modified CoulombMohr theory
2
or
3
S
ut
S
ut
S
uc
S
ut
I
II
III
Three design zones
2
or
3
Ken Youssefi Mechanical Engineering Dept.,
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Failure Theories Brittle Materials
2
S
ut
S
ut
S
uc
S
ut
I
II
III
Zone I
1
> 0 ,
2
> 0
and
1
>
2
Zone II
1
> 0 ,
2
< 0
and
2
< S
ut
Zone III
1
> 0 ,
2
< 0
and
2
> S
ut
1
(
1
S
ut
1
S
uc
)
2
S
uc
=
1
n
Design equation
1
=
S
ut
n
Design equation
1
=
S
ut
n
Design equation
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Right click on the Results and
select the Factor of Safety Plot
Safety factor plots
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Max. Shear Stress
theory
Distortion energy
theory using von
Mises stress
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Formulation of the Finite Element Method
The classical finite element analysis code (h version)
The system equations for solid and structural
mechanics problems are derived using the principle of
virtual displacement and work (Bathe, 1982).
The method of weighted residuals (Galerkin Method)
weighted residuals are used as one method of finite
element formulation starting from the governing
differential equation.
Potential Energy and Equilibrium; The RayleighRitz
Method
Involves the construction of assumed displacement field.
Uses the total potential energy for an elastic body
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Formulation of the Finite Element Method
Lets denote the displacements of any point (x, y, z) of the object
from the unloaded configuration as U
T
U
T
= [U(x, y, z) V(x, y, z) W(x, y,z)]
The displacement U causes the strains
T
= [
x
y
z
xy
yz
zx
]
and the corresponding stresses
The goal is to calculate displacement, strains, and stresses from
the given external forces.
T
= [
x
y
z
xy
yz
zx
]
Ken Youssefi Mechanical Engineering Dept
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Formulation of the Finite Element Method
f
B
Body forces (forces distributed over the volume of the body:
(gravitational forces, inertia, or magnetic)
f
B
=
f
B
x
f
B
y
f
B
z
f
S
surface forces (pressure of one body on another, or hydrostatic
pressure)
f
S
=
f
S
x
f
S
y
f
S
z
f
i
Concentrated external forces
f
i
=
f
i
x
f
i
y
f
i
z
Ken Youssefi Mechanical Engineering Dept
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Formulation of the Finite Element Method
Equilibrium condition and principle of virtual displacements
The left side represents the internal virtual work done, and the
right side represents the external work done by the actual
forces as they go through the virtual displacement.
U
s
denotes the displacement due to surface forces
U
i
denotes the displacement due to point forces
Work done by
body forces
Work done by
surface forces
Work done by
external forces
V
T
dV
V
dV
U
T
f
B
S
d S
U
S
f
S
T
U
i
T
F
i
+ +
=
Internal work
The above equation is used to generate finite element equations.
And by approximating the object as an assemblage of discrete
finite elements, these elements are interconnected at nodal points
Ken Youssefi Mechanical Engineering Dept
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Formulation of the Finite Element Method
The displacement at any point measured with respect to a local
coordinate system for an element are assumed to be a function of the
displacement at the nodes.
H
(m)
is the displacement interpolation matrix
Displacement interpolation matrix
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Formulation of the Finite Element Method
B
(m)
is the rows of the straindisplacement matrix
straindisplacement matrix
Matrix
form
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Formulation of the Finite Element Method
C
(m)
is the elasticity matrix of element m and
I(m)
are the
elements initial stresses. The elasticity matrix relates strains
to stress.
Elasticity matrix
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Elasticity matrix
Straindisplacement matrix
Displacement interpolation matrix
Displacement at any node Displacement at any element
Initial stress (residual stress)
Strain at any element
Stress at any element
Ken Youssefi Mechanical Engineering Dept
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Formulation of the Finite Element Method
The formula for the principle of virtual displacements can be
rewritten as the sum of integration over the volume and areas
for each finite element,
Where m varies from 1 to the total number of elements
Ken Youssefi Mechanical Engineering Dept
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Formulation of the Finite Element Method
Ken Youssefi Mechanical Engineering Dept
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Formulation of the Finite Element Method
The equilibrium equation can be expressed using matrix
notations for m elements.
where
B
(m)
Represents the rows of the strain displacement matrix
C
(m)
Elasticity matrix of element m
H
(m)
Displacement interpolation matrix
U Vector of the three global displacement
components at all nodes
F Vector of the external concentrated forces
applied to the nodes
Ken Youssefi Mechanical Engineering Dept
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Formulation of the Finite Element Method
The above equation can be rewritten as follows,
The above equation describes the static equilibrium problem.
K is the stiffness matrix.
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Continuing the example
B
(m)
 Represents the rows of the strain
displacement matrix
C(m)  Elasticity matrix of element m
dx
x
y
y = 4  x
4
10
dA = y dx
Ken Youssefi Mechanical Engineering Dept
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Example
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Example
Calculating the stiffness matrix for element 2.
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Example
The stiffness of the structure as a whole is obtained by combing
the two matrices, K = K
1
+K
2
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Example
where P
y
is the known external force and F
1x
, F
1y
, F
3x
, and F
3y
are the unknown reaction forces at the supports.
R =
KU = R
The load vector R, equals R
c
because only
concentrated loads act on the nodes.
Ken Youssefi Mechanical Engineering Dept
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Example
The following matrix equation can be solved for nodal point
displacements
KU = R
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Example
The solution can be obtained by applying the boundary conditions
No deflection
at the supports
Ken Youssefi Mechanical Engineering Dept
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Example
The equation can be divided into two parts,
The first equation can be solved for the unknown nodal displacements,
U
3
, U
4
, U
7
, and U
8
. And substituting these values into the second
equation to obtain unknown reaction forces, F
1x
, F
1y
, F
3x
, and F
3y
Once the nodal displacements have been obtained, the strains
and stresses can be calculated.
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Finite Element Analysis
PreProcessing
Solving Matrix (solver)
PostProcessing
FEA requires three steps
FEA is a mathematical representation of a physical system
and the solution of that mathematical representation
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PreProcessing
Meshing the component or the
assembly
Assigning material with mechanical
and physical properties
Applying boundary conditions (Loads
and Constraints)
SW Simulation
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Ken Youssefi Mechanical Engineering Dept
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FEA PreProcessing
Mesh
Mesh is your way of communicating geometry to
the solver, the accuracy of the solution is primarily
dependent on the quality of the mesh.
The better the mesh looks, the more accurate the
solution is.
A goodlooking mesh should have wellshaped
elements (proportional), and the transition between
densities should be smooth and gradual without
skinny, distorted elements.
Ken Youssefi Mechanical Engineering Dept
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FEA PreProcessing  meshing
The mesh transition from .05 to .5 element size without control of transition (a)
creates irregular mesh around the hole which will yield disappointing results.
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FEA PreProcessing
The mesh elements supported by most finiteelement codes:
Ken Youssefi Mechanical Engineering Dept
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FEA PreProcessing Elements
Beam Elements
Beam elements typically fall into two categories; able to
transmit moments or not able to transmit moments.
Rod (bar or truss) elements cannot carry moments.
Entire length of a modeled component can be captured with a
single element. This member can transmit axial loads only and
can be defined simply by a material and cross sectional area.
Ken Youssefi Mechanical Engineering Dept
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FEA PreProcessing Elements
The most general line element is a beam.
(b) and (c) are higher order line elements.
Ken Youssefi Mechanical Engineering Dept
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FEA PreProcessing Elements
Plate and Shell Modeling
Plate and shell are used interchangeably and refer to surface
like elements used to represent thinwalled structures.
A quadrilateral mesh is usually more accurate than a mesh of
similar density based on triangles. Triangles are acceptable in
regions of gradual transitions.
Ken Youssefi Mechanical Engineering Dept
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FEA PreProcessing Elements
Solid Element Modeling
Tetrahedral (tet) mesh is the only generally
accepted means to fill a volume, used as auto
mesh element by many FEA codes.
10node Quadratic
Effect of Mesh Element
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Model 1 produces von Mises stress of 18,000 psi.
It uses a firstorder solid tetrahedral element
One element is placed across the
thickness of the plate in bending, not able
to handle the positive and negative
bending.
The elements are highly distorted
Ken Youssefi Mechanical Engineering Dept
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Model 2 produces maximum Von Mises stress of 32,000 psi.
The mesh on model 2 is similar to that on model 1
but uses secondorder solid tetrahedral elements
with coarse mesh.
The mesh is too coarse to model stress
distribution correctly or detect stress
concentrations. Some elements are still
highly distorted.
Effect of Mesh Element
Ken Youssefi Mechanical Engineering Dept
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Model 3 produces maximum von Mises stress of 49,000 psi
This model uses secondorder solid tetrahedral elements and has
finer mesh to model stress distributions properly.
Stress will increase with each
mesh refinement. Thus, the
process of mesh refining and
solving the refined model must
continue until the increase in
stress between two consecutive
iterations becomes sufficiently
small (about 10%). Only then
can results be accepted as final.
Effect of Mesh Element
Ken Youssefi Mechanical Engineering Dept
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Max stress = 18,000 psi.
Max stress = 49,000 psi.
Max stress = 32,000 psi.
1
st
order
tetrahedral
coarse mesh
2
nd
order
tetrahedral
coarse mesh
2
st
order
tetrahedral
fine mesh
Ken Youssefi Mechanical Engineering Dept
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CAD Modeling for FEA
CAD and FEA activities should be coordinated at the early stages
of the design process to minimize the duplication of effort.
There are four situations
Analytical geometry developed by or for analyst for
sole purpose of FEA
CAD models prepared by the design group for
eventual FEA
CAD models unsuitable for use in analysis due to the
amount of rework required.
CAD models prepared without consideration of FEA
needs. Little to moderate modifications are needed
Ken Youssefi Mechanical Engineering Dept
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CAD Modeling for FEA
Solid chunky parts (thickwalled, low aspect ratio)
parts mesh cleanly directly off CAD models.
Clean geometry
geometrical features must not prevent the mesh from
being created. The model should not include buried
features.
Parentchild relationships
parametric modeling allows defining features off other
CAD features.
Ken Youssefi Mechanical Engineering Dept
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CAD Modeling for FEA
Short edges and Sliver surfaces
Short edges and sliver surfaces usually accompany each other and on
large faces can cause highly distorted elements or a failed mesh.
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CAD Modeling for FEA
Fillet across shallow angle
Sliver surface caused by a slightly
undersized fillet
Sliver surface caused by
misaligned features.
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CAD Modeling for FEA Sliver Surfaces
The rounded rib on the
inside of the piston has a
thickness of .30 and a
radius of .145, as a result
a flat surface of .01 by 2.5
is created. A mesh size of
.05 is required to avoid
distorted elements. This
results in a 290,000
nodes. If the radius is
increased to .15, a mesh
size of .12 is sufficient
which results in 33,500
nodes.
Flat surface
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CAD Modeling for FEA Sliver edge
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CAD Modeling for FEA Sliver Surfaces
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CAD Modeling for FEA Sliver Surfaces
Ken Youssefi Mechanical Engineering Dept
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Guidelines for Geometry Planning
Delay inclusion of fillets and chamfers as long as
possible.
Where possible, try to use permanent datum as a
reference to minimize dependencies.
Avoid using fillet or draft edges as references for
other features (parentchild relationship)
Never bury a feature in your model. Delete or
redefine unwanted or incorrect features.
Ken Youssefi Mechanical Engineering Dept
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Guidelines for Part Simplification
Outside corner breaks or rounds.
Small inside fillets far from areas of interest.
Screw threads or spline features unless they are
specifically being studied.
Small holes and slots outside the load path.
Decorative or identification features.
Large sections of geometry that are essentially
decoupled from the behavior of interested section
Analyze half of the symmetrical parts
In general, features listed below could be considered for
suppression. But, consider the impact before suppression.
Model with full detail
Model with details suppressed
Elements = 2565
No. of equations = 14889
Elements = 66727
No. of equations = 311421
Ken Youssefi Mechanical Engineering Dept
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Guidelines for Part Simplification
Fillet added
to the rib
Holes removed
Fillet
removed
Ribs needed
for casting
removed
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Ken Youssefi Mechanical Engineering Dept
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Ken Youssefi Mechanical Engineering Dept
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CAD Modeling for FEA
Model Conversion
Try to use the same CAD system for all components
in design.
When the above is not possible, translate geometry
through kernel based tools such as ACIS or
Parasolids. Using standards based (IGES, VDA, ..)
translations may lead to problem.
Visually inspect the quality of imported geometry.
Avoid modification of the imported geometry in a
second CAD system.
Use the original geometry for analysis. If not
possible, use a translation directly from the
original model.
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Example of a solid model corrupted by
I GES transfer
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FEA PreProcessing
Material Properties
The only material properties that are generally required by
an isotropic, linear static FEA are: Youngs modulus
(E), Poissons ratio (v), shear modulus (G), and yield
strength (or ultimate strength). Strength is needed if the
program provides safety factor or performance result.
G = E / 2(1+v)
Provide only two of the three properties.
Thermal expansion and simulation analysis require
coefficient of thermal expansion, conductivity and
specific heat values.
Material Library
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Ken Youssefi Mechanical Engineering Dept
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FEA PreProcessing
Nonlinear Material Properties
A multilinear model requires the input of stressstrain
data pairs to essentially communicate the stressstrain
curve from testing to the FE model
Highly deformable, low stiffness, incompressible materials,
such as rubber and other synthetic elastomers require
distortional and volumetric constants or a more complete set
of tensile, compressive, and shear force versus stretch curve.
A creep analysis requires time and temperature dependent
creep properties. Plastic parts are extremely sensitive to this
phenomenon
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FEA PreProcessing
Their properties hold constant throughout the assigned entity.
Average values are used (variation could be up to 15%).
Localized changes due to heat or other processing effects are
not accounted for.
Any impurities present in the parent material are neglected.
The assumption is that there are no defects in the material
Comments
If possible, obtain material property values specific to the
application under analysis.
If you are selecting the property set from the codes library,
be aware of the assumptions made with this selection.
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FEA PreProcessing
Boundary Conditions (Loads and Constraints)
In FEA, the name of the game is boundary condition,
that is calculating the load and figuring out constraints
that each component experiences in its working
environment.
garbage in, garbage out
The results of FEA should include a complete
discussion of the boundary conditions.
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Boundary Conditions
Loads
Loads are used to represent
inputs to the system. They
can be in the forms of forces,
moments (torque), pressures,
temperature, or accelerations.
SW
Creo
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Boundary Conditions
Linear Static Analysis
Boundary conditions are assumed constant from
application to final deformation of system and all loads
are applied gradually to their full magnitude.
Dynamic Analysis
The boundary conditions (Loads) vary with time.
Nonlinear Analysis
The orientation and distribution of the boundary
conditions vary as displacement of the structure is
calculated.
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Boundary Conditions
Degrees of Freedom
Spatial DOFs refer to the three translational and three rotational
modes of displacement that are possible for any part in 3D
space. A constraint scheme must remove all six DOFs for the
analysis to run.
Elemental DOFs refer to the ability of each element to transmit
or react to a load. The boundary condition cannot load or
constrain a DOF that is not supported by the element to which it
is applied.
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Constraints
Constraints are used as reactions to
the applied loads. Constraints can
resist translational or rotational
deformation induced by applied
loads.
SW
Creo
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Boundary Conditions
Constraints and their geometric equivalent in classic
beam calculation.
Fixed support
Roller support
Pin support
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Boundary Conditions
A solid face should always have at least three points in
contact with the rest of the structure. A solid element
should never be constrained by less than three points and
only translational DOFs must be fixed.
Accuracy
The choice of boundary conditions has a direct impact
on the overall accuracy of the model.
Overconstrained model an overly stiff model due
to poorly applied constraints.
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Boundary Conditions Example
Excessive Constraints
Model of the chair seat with patches representing the tops of
the legs.
Patch 3
Patch 1
Patch 2
Patch 4
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Patch 3
Patch 1
Patch 2
Patch 4
Boundary Conditions Example
It may appear to be acceptable to constrain each circular patch
in vertical translation while leaving the rotational DOFs
unconstraint. This causes the seat to behave as if the legto
seat interfaces were completely fixed.
A more realistic constraint scheme would be to pin the
center point of each circular patch (translational), allowing
the patch to rotate. Each point should be fixed vertically,
and horizontal constraints should be selectively applied so
that inplane spatial rotation and rigid body translation is
removed without causing excessive constraints.
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Boundary Conditions Example
Constraining the center point of patch 1 in all 3
translational DOFs.
Constraining x and y translations of the center point of
patch 2.
Constraining z and y translation of the center point of
patch 3.
Constraining just the y translation of the center point of
patch 4.
This scheme allows in
plane translation induced
by bending of the seat
without rigid body
translation or rotation.
Patch 3
Patch 1
Patch 2
Patch 4
Legs are fixed to seat
2000 N applied force
distributed over the
surface.
Use On Flat Face restraint
Fixed legs
Stress
In plane rotation is allowed
Stress
Displacement
Displacement
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One leg is restrained in
x,y,z, one in y, one in
x,y, one in y,z
Stress
Displacement
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Displ. = .016 mm
Displ. = .06 mm
Displ. = .02 mm
All patches
(legs) fixed
All patches (legs) On
Flat Face constrains,
in plane rotation
One leg is
restrained in x,y,z,
one in y, one in x,y,
one in y,z
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Stress=5.8x10
7
N/m
2
Stress=11.6x10
7
N/m
2
Stress=10.4x10
7
N/m
2
All patches
(legs) fixed
All patches (legs)
On Flat Face
constrains, in
plane rotation
One leg is
restrained in x,y,z,
one in y, one in x,y,
one in y,z
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Summary of PreProcessing
Build the geometry (CAD model for FEA)
Prepare the model for meshing (simplify)
Create the finiteelement mesh
Add boundary conditions; loads and
constraints
Select material or provide properties
Specify analysis type (static or dynamic,
linear or nonlinear, thermal, etc.)
These activities are called finite element modeling.
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Solving the Model  Solver
Once the mesh is complete, and the properties and
boundary conditions have been applied, it is time to solve
the model. In most cases, this will be the point where you
can take a deep breath, push a button and relax while the
computer does the work for a change.
Multiple Load and Constraint Cases
In most cases submitting a run with multiple load cases will
be faster than running sequential, complete solutions for
each load case.
Final Model Check
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Unexpectedly high or low displacements (by order of magnitude)
could be caused by an improper definition of load and/or elemental
properties.
PostProcessing, Displacement Magnitude
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PostProcessing, Displacement Animation
Animation of the model displacements serves as the best means of
visualizing the response of the model to its boundary conditions.
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PostProcessing, FEA of a connecting rod
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Second Mode (Twisting)
The magnitude of the stresses should not be entirely unexpected.
First Mode (Bending)
PostProcessing, Stress Results
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Deformation of a duct under thermal load
PostProcessing, thermal analysis
Deploy Mechanism Assembly Analysis
Displacement
Stress
Can crusher stress
analysis
Use finer mesh size
Right click the
Mesh icon and
choose Failure
Diagnostics
Remover all
rounds (outside
edges)
Add fillet to the slot
edges (.1 in.)
Max stress (von Mises) = 43.9 MPa
S
y
= 96.5 MPa (Al 2014)
n = 96.5/43.9 = 2.2 > 2.0
Max deflection 1.13 mm < 2 mm
Safety factor
Design requirements
Safety factor between
2.02.5 and deflection
less than 2 mm
Set gap to 5 in.
Fix the back plate
Apply 200 N
(45 lb)
Mesh Quality
The ideal shape of a tetrahedral
element is a regular tetrahedron with
the aspect ratio of 1. Analogously, an
equilateral triangle is the ideal shape
for a shell element.
Sometimes, Irregular tetrahedral
are created by the program.
These distorted elements have
high aspect ratio. An aspect ratio
that is too high causes element
degeneration, which in turn affects
the quality of the results.
Aspect Ratio
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Right click
the Mesh
icon and
select Create
Mesh Plot
Select Aspect
ratio
6
1
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Apply mesh control
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Without mesh control
With mesh control
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Automatic transition  the program
automatically applies mesh controls to small
features, holes, fillets, and other fine details of
your model. Uncheck Automatic transition
before meshing large models with many small
features and details to avoid generating a very
large number of elements.
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PostProcessing
View (animated)
Displacements
Does the shape of deformations make sense?
View Displacement
Fringe Plot
Yes
Review Boundary
Conditions
No
Are magnitudes in line with your expectations?
View Stress
Fringe Plot
Yes
Is the quality and mag. of stresses acceptable?
Review Load Magnitudes
and Units
No
Review Mesh Density
and Quality of Elements
No
View Results Specific
To the Analysis
Yes
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FEA  Flow Chart
Last Comment
and a bad engineer dangerous !
Finite Element Analysis makes a good
engineer great
Robert D. Cook, Professor of Mechanical Engineering at
University of Wisconsin, Madison