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Finite Element Analysis

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FEA / Finite Element Analysis

Finite element analysis (FEA) is the modeling of products and systems in a virtual environment, for the purpose of finding and
solving potential (or existing) structural or performance issues. FEA is the practical application of the finite element method (FEM),
which is used by engineers and scientist to mathematically model and numerically solve very complex structural, fluid, and
multiphysics problems. FEA software can be utilized in a wide range of industries, but is most commonly used in the aeronautical,
biomechanical and automotive industries.

A finite element (FE) model comprises a system of points, called nodes, which form the shape of the design. Connected to these
nodes are the finite elements themselves which form the finite element mesh and contain the material and structural properties of
the model, defining how it will react to certain conditions. The density of the finite element mesh may vary throughout the material,
depending on the anticipated change in stress levels of a particular area. Regions that experience high changes in stress usually
require a higher mesh density than those that experience little or no stress variation. Points of interest may include fracture points of
previously tested material, fillets, corners, complex detail, and high-stress areas.

FE models can be created using one-dimensional (1D beam), two-dimensional (2D shell) or three-dimensional (3D solid) elements.
By using beams and shells instead of solid elements, a representative model can be created using fewer nodes without
compromising accuracy. Each modeling scheme requires a different range of properties to be defined, such as:
Section areas
Moments of inertia
Torsional constant
Plate thickness
Bending stiffness
Transverse shear

To simulate the effects of real-world working environments in FEA, various load types can be applied to the FE model, including:
Nodal: forces, moments, displacements, velocities, accelerations, temperature and heat flux
Elemental: distributed loading, pressure, temperature and heat flux
Acceleration body loads (gravity)

Types of analysis include:

Linear statics: linear analysis with applied loads and constraints that are static
Nonlinear statics and dynamics: effects due to contact (where one part of the model comes into contact with another), nonlinear material definitions (plasticity, elasticity, etc.) and large displacement
(strains that exceed small displacement theory that limits a linear analysis approach)
Normal modes: natural frequencies of vibration
Dynamic response: loads or motions that vary with time and frequency
Buckling: critical loads at which a structure becomes unstable
Heat transfer: conduction, radiation and phase change

Typical results calculated by the solver include:

Nodal displacements, velocities and accelerations
Elemental forces, strains and stresses

Benefits of FEA
FEA can be used in new product design, or to refine an existing product, to ensure that the design will be able to perform to
specifications prior to manufacturing. With FEA you can:
Predict and improve product performance and reliability
Reduce physical prototyping and testing
Evaluate different designs and materials
Optimize designs and reduce material usage

FEA Software
Here are examples of FEA software applications:

Simcenter 3D (/en/products/simcenter/3d/index.shtml) is a unified, scalable, open and extensible environment for FEA with
connections to design, 1D simulation, test and data management. Simcenter speeds the FEA process by combining best-in-class
geometry editing, associative simulation modeling and multi-discipline solutions embedded with industry expertise. Simcenter 3D
integrates fast and accurate solvers that power structural, acoustics, flow, thermal, motion and composites analyses, as well as
optimization and multiphysics simulation.

NX Nastran (/en/products/simcenter/nastran/index.shtml) is a finite element solver that analyzes stress, vibration, structural
failure/durability, heat transfer, noise/acoustics and flutter/aeroelasticity.

LMS Samtech (/en/products/lms/samtech/index.shtml) contains a finite element method (FEM) solver suite to simulate critical
performance engineering attributes for mechanical systems. It is designed to fulfill the precise requirements of applications such as
wind turbine development, rotor dynamics, structural and thermal analyses, and composites. Its high-end solvers handle both
nonlinear FEM and multi-body simulation. The software also features a high-level CAE integration platform for managing the aviation
engineering process.

STAR-CCM+ ( is a stand-alone simulation solution for computational fluid

dynamics (CFD), computational solid mechanics (CSM), heat transfer, particle dynamics, reacting flow, electrochemistry,
electromagnetics, acoustics and rheology. STAR-CCM+ delivers accurate and efficient simulation technologies through a single
integrated user interface and automated workflows. This facilitates the analysis and exploration of complex real-world problems.

HEEDS ( provides an efficient and easy to use design exploration framework.
Workflows are easily automated through integration with your current design and simulation tools. HEEDS automatically explores
the design space to quickly identify solutions that meet your goals and constraints such as reducing product costs while keeping
stresses below acceptable limits.

Femap (/en/products/femap/index.shtml) is a CAD-independent, solver-neutral, Windows-native pre- and postprocessor for

advanced engineering FEA. It provides engineers and analysts with an FEA modeling solution to handle even the most complex
tasks easily, accurately and affordably.

Solid Edge Simulation (/en/products/solid-edge/overview/add_on_apps/simulation.shtml) is a built-in FEA tool for design engineers
to validate part and assembly designs digitally within the Solid Edge environment. Based on proven Femap finite element modeling
technology, Solid Edge Simulation significantly reduces the need for physical prototypes, thereby reducing material and testing
costs, while saving design time.

The following software components are used by FEA software developers as the foundation for their applications:

Parasolid (/en/products/open/parasolid/index.shtml) is 3D geometric modeling component software, enabling users of Parasolid-

based products to model complex parts and assemblies. It is used as the geometry engine in hundreds of different CAD, CAM and
CAE applications.
Explore Our FEA Solutions
FEA is an integral part of computer-aided engineering (CAE) (/en/plm/cae.shtml) and a larger product lifecycle management (PLM)
(/en/plm/index.shtml) strategy. Used together with computer-aided design (CAD) (/en/plm/cad.shtml), computer-aided manufacturing
(CAM) (/en/plm/cam.shtml), digital manufacturing (/en/plm/digital-manufacturing.shtml), and product data management (PDM)
(/en/plm/pdm.shtml), entire product lifecycles can be optimized for suitability, reliability, and profitability to achieve predictive
engineering analytics (/en/plm/predictive-engineering-analytics.shtml).

Learn how businesses like these use FEA in their product development processes
Longitude Engineering Case Study (
Longitude Engineering Case Study (
Calder Case Study (
Calder Case Study (
Tecnofer Case Study (
More Case Studies (/en/about_us/success/index.shtml)

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Additional Resources
Simcenter 3D Brochure
NX Nastran Brochure
Femap Brochure
Parasolid Brochure
Solid Edge Simulation
FEA Blog Posts (

2017 Siemens Product Lifecycle Management Software Inc.