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Best Practices

FEA requires engineering judgment. In the best case, you should know the approximate answer before you begin. Proper selection of elements elements, materials materials, loads, constraints and analysis parameters comes from experience experience.

Best Practices

Understand that the computer model never matches reality (it is only an approximation). The surest route to failure in FEA is to underestimate the complexity of correct modelling. modelling

FEA Overview O i

The Basic Steps of FEA

Build/Mesh a Model

Define FEA Model Analysis and Element Types Define Loads and Constraints

Analyze Model (Solve)

Review Results and Improve Design

Example Using ALGOR

Create Mesh in CAD Solid Model or FEA Editor Environment Setup Analysis Type, Element Type and Materials in the FEA Editor Environment Apply Loads and Constraints in the FEA Editor Environment Analyze Model (Solve)


Review Results in the Results Environment and Create an improved p Design g

FEA Concepts

What is a DOF? The unknowns in a finite element problem are referred to as degrees g of freedom (DOF). ( ) Degrees of freedom vary by element and analysis type.

DOF Type Displacement p / (Rotation) ( ) Temperature

Action Force / ( (M) ) Heat Flow Rate

Application Structural Thermal

What is a DOF?

Rot y

Rot z Uz

Rot x Ux


A node is a coordinate location in space where the DOF are d fi d The defined. Th DOF of f this thi point i t represent the possible response at this point due to the loading of the structure.


An element is a mathematical relation that defines how the DOF of f a node d relate l t to t the th next. These elements can be lines (beams), areas (2-D or 3-D p ( plates) ) or solids (bricks and tetrahedrals).

Nodes and Elements

A node has a given set of DOFs, which characterize the response. p For structural analyses, these DOFs include translations and rotations in the three global directions. The type of element used will also characterize which type yp of DOFs a node will have. Some analysis y types yp have only y one DOF at a node. Examples of these analysis types are temperature in a heat transfer analysis and pressure in a fluid flow analysis.

Element Connectivity

Elements can only transfer loads to one another via common nodes.
No Communication Between the Elements Communication Between the Elements

Stress Basic equations do not require the use of a computer to solve. solve Computer-based analysis is needed when complexity is added as follows: Geometric complexity makes the elasticity
equation q difficult or impossible p to solve. Variations in material properties exist throughout the part.

Multiple load cases and complex or combined

loading exists.

Dynamics are of interest interest.

General Case

The DOF components of each element combine to form a matrix equation:

[K] {d} = {A}

[K] = element stiffness components {d} = DOF results (unknown) {A} = action value (e.g., force, temperature)

Structural FEA Equation

To determine the displacement of a simple linear spring under load, the relevant equation is:

{f} = [K] {d}

where {f} = force vector [K] = stiffness matrix {d} = displacement vector


FEA Equation Solution

This can be solved with matrix algebra by rearranging the equation as follows:

{d} = [K] {f}

-1 1

Calculation of and

Strains are computed p based on the classical differential q equations. Stress can then be obtained from the strains using Hooke Hookes s law or other constitutive equations.

Dynamic Equation For a more complex analysis, more terms are needed. This is true in a dynamic analysis, which is defined by the following equation:

{f} = [K] {d} + [c] {v} + [m] {a}

where { {f} } = force vector [K] = stiffness matrix {d} = displacement vector [c] = damping matrix {v} = velocity vector [m] = mass matrix {a} = acceleration vector

Analysis Options

Choosing an Analysis Type

The first decision in the FEA process is to decide what type of analysis you need to run. The analysis type will dictate what yp of results you y will obtain. type For example, if you need the displacement of your part, then you will need to run a structural analysis.


Linear static No changes in stiffness. No changes in loading

direction. Material remains in the linear elastic e ast c range. a ge Small deformation and strain.


Linear dynamics

Natural N t l frequency f (modal) ( d l) Response spectrum Random vibration Frequency response Transient stress (direct integration) Transient stress (modal superposition) [Critical buckling load -- eigenvalue] Dynamic Design Analysis Method

Element Options p

Choosing an Element Type

Selecting the type of element will depend on the following:

Analysis type selected. How y you create y your mesh. Assumptions you can make
about geometric properties properties.

Element Categories

Line Elements: A line connecting 2 nodes (beams, trusses, springs, actuators, pipes, etc.) Area (2-D) Elements: A cross-section part. Must be 3 or 4 lines of a p enclosing an area.

Element Categories

Area (3-D Planar) Elements: Midplane of a part in space. Must be 3 or 4 lines enclosing an area. 3-D Solid Elements: Must be 4, (5), g a volume. 6 or 8 nodes enclosing

Meshing M hi and d Modeling

Proper Modeling Techniques

For any region (3, 4, 5, 6 or 8-nodes) to be a valid element, it must:

Consist of either three (triangular) or

four (quadrilateral) undivided line segments. If a side consists of multiple line segments, segments the region is invalid. invalid

Not have curved or arched sides.

Proper Modeling Techniques

Certain shapes p can create elements which are not recommended for FEA y The following g regions g will analysis. be eliminated:
Regions eg o s

with t a any y co collinear ea o or concave sides. with a highly nonflat curvature in a 3-D drawing.


Proper Modeling Techniques

Valid and Invalid Regions

Meshing Guidelines

Meshing can be completed either by using automatic mesh engines or by creating a mesh by hand. Automatic mesh generation is usually p on CAD solid models. completed Hand meshing is usually done on simple models that require a structured mesh.

Hand Meshing There are two types of hand meshing: building from scratch and building from a wireframe. Building from scratch: Draw the elements by hand one at a time to create a structured mesh. Building from a wireframe: Build a 2-D or 3-D wireframe of the model and d use an unstructured t t d mesh h engine i to t generate the internal elements.

Loads L d and d Constraints

Introduction to Loads and Constraints

You will have to decide what type of loads and constraints will properly define the engineering criteria for the model. model In FEA, there are different types of loads and constraints for each analysis type type. Applying the proper loads and constraints is one of the most important factors in getting the correct answer. Always double check your model model.

Types of Loads and Constraints

There are multiple p ways y to apply different loads and constraints to a model: Nodal Edge Surface Element

Structural Nodal Loads

Displacements p (N.L.) ( ) Forces Moments Temperatures (thermal stress) Voltages (piezoelectric materials)

Structural Nodal Constraints

Boundary y Conditions: Prevent specified DOF from g g translation or undergoing rotation in a specified direction. Boundary Elements: Act like a spring with a specified stiffness along a specified direction.

Structural Nodal Constraints

Using Boundary Conditions to Model Symmetry


only for symmetrical problems and solutions! Along the line of symmetry, boundary conditions must be applied to represent the symmetrical part:
Out-of-plane displacement = 0 Two in-plane p rotations = 0

Structural Nodal Constraints


Line of Symmetry

Pl Plane of fS Symmetry

Boundary Conditions

Proper boundary conditions are necessary for an accurate analysis. The global stiffness of the system must be modeled correctly for any local behavior to be captured correctly.

Boundary Conditions

The two most unwanted FEA effects to watch out for are:

Overstiffening Understiffening Rigid Body Motion Unlike the real real-world world equivalent equivalent, constraints in FEA are perfect.

Linear Surface Loads

Uniform or Hydrostatic y Pressure and Traction


to the face of plate, composite and brick elements. Applied to the edge of 2-D and membrane elements elements.

Surface Force

specify magnitude and direction of a force that will be evenly distributed over a given surface.

Linear Surface Loads

Variable Pressure or Traction


a function of the position that controls the magnitude of the load over the surface surface.

Linear Element Loads

Gravity y

specify gravitational value and direction. You must have a mass density defined for each part. part center of rotation rotation, angular velocity and acceleration values.

Centrifugal Loads

Distributed Loads

the magnitude and direction at each end of beam elements.

Truss Elements

Truss Elements
Truss elements are two-node members which allow arbitrary members, orientation in the X, Y, Z system. The truss transmits axial force only, and in general, is a three DOF element l t (i.e., (i three th global l b l translation components at each end of the member). Trusses are used to model structures such as towers, bridges and b ildi buildings.

Truss Elements

Guidelines for using t truss elements: l t

The length of the element is much
greater than the width or depth (approximately 8-10 times).

It is connected to the rest of the model

with hinges that do not transfer moments. t

The external applied forces are only at

j i t joints.

Beam Elements

Beam Elements
Beam elements are slender structural members that offer resistance to forces and bending under applied loads. Beams B are f found di in building b ildi frames, transmission towers and bridges. bridges A beam differs from a truss in that a beam resists moments (twisting and bending) at the connections.

Beam Elements

Beams use a third node to define the orientation of the cross-section. Cross-sectional properties are defined for bending about both the strong and weak axes.

Beam Elements

Guidelines for using g beam elements:


length of the element is much greater than the width or depth. g p element has constant crosssectional properties. p p element must be able to transfer moments. element must be able to handle a load distributed along g its length. g

The The The

2-D Elements

2-D Elements

Two-dimensional elements l t are threeth or four-node elements that are formulated f l t d in i the th Y-Z YZ plane. They are used to model d l and d analyze l objects such as bearings, seals l or structures t t such h as dams.

2-D Elements

2-D Geometry Types

Axisymmetric: For parts that are

revolved about an axis. Plane strain: No deflection normal to the cross-section (e.g., a large dam). Plane stress: No stress normal to the cross-section (e.g., a plate under inplane loads) loads).

2-D Elements

Create wireframe sketches for each part in the FEA Editor environment. Use the 2-D mesh engine to generate the 2-D elements elements. Do not create slender elements. Not more than th 2:1 2 1 ratio ti between b t sides id or diagonals.

Plate Elements

Plate/Shell Elements Plate/shell elements are three- or four node elements formulated in four-node three-dimensional space. These elements are used to model and analyze objects such as pressure vessels, aircraft skin and automotive body parts. A thickness is assigned to the elements. Stresses will vary linearly through the h thickness. hi k

Plate/Shell Elements

Guidelines for using plate/shell elements:

The thickness is small in relation to

the length g and width (about ( 1/10). )

Good for small displacements and


Elements remain (almost) planar (i.e.,

no warpage). p g )

No rotation about the direction normal

to the element.

Membrane Elements Three- or four-node elements formulated in three-dimensional three dimensional space. No moment resistance. Used to model "fabric-like" objects such as tents or cots, or structures such as the roof of a sports stadium. Model solids of a specified thi k thickness, which hi h exhibit hibit no stress normal to the thickness.

Brick Elements

Solid (Brick) Elements

Solid elements are four- five-, four-, five- six- or eight-node elements formulated in threedimensional space. Solid elements should be used when the stress through the thickness of a part is important (<2:1 important. (<2 1 ratio) ti )

Mesh Convergence

Mesh Convergence

For mesh convergence testing, it is suggested that you run at least three analyses at different mesh sizes:

Coarse Fine Somewhere in between coarse

and fine

Mesh Convergence

Usually, you will not see the direct equation solutions (such as displacements) change with the different mesh sizes. You will see the numerical method answers (such as ) converge g to an answer stresses) as the mesh gets finer.

Meshing CAD Solid Models

Meshing CAD Models

Build a solid model in any CAD solid modeler. Using g direct CAD/CAE data exchange or a universal file (IGES, , ACIS), ), open p the model. STEP, Create a mesh on the model.

Mesh Refinement

To optimize solution time, it is useful to create a fine mesh in areas where the results are critical and a coarser mesh in areas where the results will not be as high. You can add refinement points p to achieve localized refinement.

Assembly Meshing

When working with multiple parts in an assembly, assembly it is critical that the meshes match between the parts if they are bonded together. together If the area where the parts come t together th should h ld not t be b bonded, b d d then contact should be used to account tf for th their i interaction. i t ti

Combining Element Types Any combination of element types is possible in an assembly. y Nodes must be matched where the parts meet in order for loads to be transferred. The available DOF of the element types that are connected must be considered and matched to avoid unstable geometry.

Solving Options

Introduction to Solvers

There are many different ways to solve the matrices that were discussed earlier. As computers get faster faster, new technologies are used that create faster processing of the equations. equations You should usually accept the default settings, which are optimized for the fastest processing.

Results Evaluation

Result Options

The types of results depend on the type of analysis that is performed. For example, a structural analysis give you y displacement p and will g stress results while a thermal y will g give you y temperature p analysis and heat flux results.

How Results are Calculated

The results are either calculated directly (D.O.F.s) through linear q or derived from them. equations For example, displacements are calculated directly, but strains are derived through numerical methods.

Structural Results

Displacement Stress Strain Reaction forces Internal I t l forces f Motion

Presentation P i of Results

Presentation Options

Contour images g Animations Time-dependent plots