# Finite Element Method

An Introduction
K.H.J. Mangala

What is FEM?
The finite element method is a numerical method for solving problems of engineering and mathematical physics. Useful for problems with complicated geometries, loadings, and material properties where analytical solutions can not be obtained.
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Discretizations
Model body by dividing it into an equivalent system of smaller bodies or units (finite elements) interconnected at points common to two or more elements (nodes or nodal points) and/or boundary lines and/or surfaces.

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History
Grew out of aerospace industry. Post-WW II jets, missiles, space flight Need for light weight structures Required accurate stress analysis Paralleled growth of computers
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Introduction
Finite element analysis is a powerful tool that allows engineers to quickly analyze and refine a design.

Introduction FEA can be applied to problems involving:  structural design .

Introduction Vibrations .

Introduction Heat Transfer .

Introduction • Sheet metal parts .

Introduction Product Design .

Introduction Product Design .

FEM helps tremendously in producing stiffness and strength visualizations and also in minimizing weight.Introduction In a structural simulation. and indicates the distribution of stresses and displacements. and costs FEM allows detailed visualization of where structures bend or twist. . materials.

computer hardware development. … .Introduction FEA is extensively used in Aerospace industry. automobile industry.

Introduction Obtain a set of algebraic equations to solve for unknown nodal quantity (displacement). Secondary quantities (stresses and strains) are expressed in terms of nodal values of primary quantity KHJM .

Advantages Irregular Boundaries General Loads Different Materials Boundary Conditions Variable Element Size Easy Modification Dynamics Nonlinear Problems (Geometric or Material) KHJM .

C. Assemble Equations and Introduce B.Steps in the Process Discretize and Select Element Type Select a Displacement Function Define Strain/Displacement and Stress/Strain Relationships Derive Element Stiffness Matrix & Eqs.’s Solve for the Unknown Degrees of Freedom Solve for Element Stresses and Strains Interpret the Results KHJM .

Computer Programs Small Special Purpose Programs     Truss Frame Plane Stress Heat Transfer Large General Purpose Program (Commercial) KHJM .

Programs ALGOR ANSYS COSMOS/M STARDYNE IMAGES-3D MSC/NASTRAN SAP90 ADINA NISA KHJM .

Can run on PC’s now.General Purpose Programs Easy input . heat. etc.fluids.preprocessor. Relatively low cost. dynamics. Solves many types of problems Modular design . Advantages KHJM .

Less efficient than smaller programs. Often proprietary. User access to code limited. KHJM .General Purpose Programs Disadvantages High development costs.

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KHJM .FEA Concept contd.

KHJM .FEA Concept contd.

KHJM .FEA Concept contd.

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KHJM .Displacement-Based contd.

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Two-Spring Model contd. KHJM .

Two-Spring Model contd. KHJM .

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Finite Element Solution Procedure contd. KHJM .

Nodes & Elements KHJM .

A Typical FE Mesh KHJM .

Boundary Conditions KHJM .

FEA is a tool of design analysis Design Analysis: process of investigating certain properties of parts. • The underlying theory is over 100 years old. assemblies or structures .Finite Element Analysis (FEA) Historical Note • The finite element method of structural analysis was created by academic and industrial researchers during the 1950s and 1960s. and was the basis for pen-and-paper calculations in the evaluation of suspension bridges and steam boilers.

Finite Element Analysis (FEA) . but more complex models require the use of numerical methods . the analysis can be conducted earlier in the design process before the final product or prototypes are built Models can be physical models or mathematical models Simple mathematical models can be solved analytically.1 Design analysis can be conducted on:   Real objects Models that represents certain aspects of a real object If models are used instead of real objects.

Design Analysis Design Analysis Real Objects Models Mathematical Models Physical Models Numerical Analytical Finite Element Method Finite Difference Method Boundary Element Method .

engineering design.2 Finite Element Analysis (FEA) is one of those numerical methods used to solve complex mathematical models FEA users require familiarity with the mechanics of materials.Finite Element Analysis (FEA) . and other topics as required in any Mechanical Engineering curriculum FEA is based on CAD models The ultimate objective of using FEA as a design tool is to change the design process from iterative cycles of “design – prototype – test” into a streamlined process where prototypes are used only for final design verification .

design iterations are moved from the physical space of prototyping and testing into virtual space of computer-based-simulations .Design Process: Traditional vs FEA-driven Traditional Product Design Process FEA-Driven Product Design Process Design CAD FEA Prototyping Prototyping Testing Testing Production Production With the use of FEA.

such as an artificial knee Cost savings Time savings… reduce time to market! Create more reliable.Why is FEA needed? To reduce the amount of prototype testing  Computer simulation allows multiple “what-if” scenarios to be tested quickly and effectively. To simulate designs that are not suitable for prototype testing  Eg: Surgical implants. better-quality designs The bottom line:    .

FEA Modelling Process: Structural Analysis CAD Model FEA Model Analysis of results Pre-processing Solving Post-processing Pre-processing     Geometry creation – CAD model Defining material properties Defining boundary conditions (Loads and Restraints) Meshing Example with COSMOSXpress .

Pre-processing: Geometry Creation – CAD Model Can use any CAD software tool     2D or 3D model Import CAD model to FEA environment using data exchange standards such as IGES (Initial Graphics Exchange Specification) or STEP Reliability of geometry exchange? Integration of CAD and FEA software Selection from existing materials from the library Defining and assigning new material properties Assigning material   .

CAD geometry will not satisfy the requirements of FEA geometry   CAD geometry contain all information necessary for part or assembly manufacturing CAD geometry can serve as a starting point in the process of FE model preparation FEA geometry must be: • Meshable • Allow for creation of a mesh that is solvable within a reasonable time Converting CAD geometry into FEA-specific geometry • Defeaturing • Idealization .The Finite Element Model Often.

an infinite number of degrees of freedom. Discretization replaces it with a system that has a finite number of degrees of freedom possible to solve with numerical methods . A continuous body has an infinite number of points or. in other words.The Finite Element Model: Meshing 1 Meshing (discretization): A process of splitting the solution domain into simply shaped subdomains called ‘Finite Elements’.

The Finite Element Model: Meshing 2 Types of finite elements .

parabolic elements require greater computational resources than linear elements • 2D shell elements .The Finite Element Model: Meshing 3 3D tetrahedral solid elements Nodes DOF Translation Rotation Linear solid element Parabolic solid element In general. and 2) they produce better mathematical approximations. for the same mesh density (number of elements). parabolic elements yield better results than linear elements because: 1) they represent curved boundaries more accurately. However.

secondorder element) Finite element analysis programs look at the model as a network of discrete interconnected elements Elements deform under a load and assume new shape Elements interact with each other through common nodes .The Finite Element Model: Meshing 4 The displacement field inside each element and along its edges is described by certain polynomial functions commonly called “shape functions” The order of the shape function employed by the element defines the order of the element (first-order element.

The Finite Element Model: Meshing 5 Meshing Techniques   Manual meshing Automatic meshing Only practical meshing choice for complex models  Meshing is done in the background and not visible to the user  The user can control the element size  .