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Assignment 01



Literally finite element analysis (FEA) sometimes referred as finite element

method (FEM) means;

Finite : limited in size or number.

Element: small part of something.

Analysis: detailed examination of something in order to interpret or explain it.

FEA is a suitable implement to analyze simple as well as complex structures.

Generally the real world engineering domains are very complicated to solve by
analytically, because of irregular as well as asymmetrical geometries and due to
complex loading and the environmental condition. A basic theme of the FEA is to
divide the domain into many smaller and geometrically simpler form called
elements. Dividing the domain into smaller regions called elements, which are
predefined shapes. The elements are connected at the nodes. Nodes are the selected
finite points at which basic unknowns are to be determined.

FEA is numerical method to handle complex geometry, any boundary

conditions and material properties. The basic concept is to assume an approximate
solution that satisfies the governing differential equation and boundary conditions.
The whole idea is to get this assumed or approximate solution as close to the exact
solution as possible.

Basic steps in FEA:

General steps in formulating a FEA of a physical problem are common to all

such analysis, whether structural, heat transfer, fluid flow or some other. In this
section, a concise account of general steps in FEA with reference to a structural
problem is given

After defining the geometric domain of the problem

R. V. Bammankatti [Asst. Prof. Mechanical Eng. Dept.] SGMCOE Mahagaon

1] Discretization of the domain

2] Selection of a proper displacement model (or interpolation model)

3] Derive the elemental stiffness matrix

4] Assemblage of elemental stiffness matrix to form global stiffness matrix

5] Solve to obtain nodal displacement i.e. field variables

6] Computation of elemental strains and stresses

For Software packages

The general process of FEA by using software is divided into three main
phases i.e. preprocessor, processor or solution and postprocessor. These steps are
incorporated in commercial finite element software packages.


The preprocessor phase allows the user to create or input CAD geometry,
and provides the tools for meshing the geometry, support conditions, applying
loads and material properties. The most crucial step in the finite element modelling
process is the choice of elements and the discretization of the domain.
Understanding of the basic engineering principles is very vital at this stage.

Processor or solver

During the solution phase, it starts with initializing global stiffness matrix
and load matrix. Then element loop is entered to assemble element stiffness
matrix. When element loop is completed global stiffness matrix is available. The
next step in processing is to impose the boundary conditions.

Now, the stiffness equations are ready. Standard solution package is used to solve
the equation to get nodal variables. Special solution techniques are used to reduce
data storage requirements and computation time. For static, linear problems, a
wave front solver, based on Gauss elimination, is commonly used.


R. V. Bammankatti [Asst. Prof. Mechanical Eng. Dept.] SGMCOE Mahagaon


The post processor takes the data from the solver and presents it in a form
that the user can understand i.e. numerical values and also the counter plots,
graphs etc. Here, the analyst checks the validity of the solution

While solution data can be manipulated many ways in postprocessing, the most
important objective is to apply sound engineering judgment in determining
whether the solution results are physically reasonable.

Applications of FEA:

The range of applications of finite elements is too large to list, but to provide
an idea of its versatility we list the following:

Structure analysis: bridge analysis, valves, pipes, pressure vessels,

Solid mechanics: stress analysis of a gear, a automotive power train, automotive

engines and aircraft

Dynamics: vibration of Sears Tower, earthquake, bullet impact, seismic analysis

of dams, power plants, cities and high-rise buildings, crash analysis of cars, trains
and aircraft

Thermal analysis: heat radiation of finned surface, thermal stress brake disc, fluid
flow analysis of coolant ponds, pollutants and contaminants, and air in ventilation

Electrical analysis: Piezo actuator, electrical signal propagation, electronic chips,

electric devices, electromagnetic analysis of antennas, transistors and aircraft

Biomaterials: human organs and tissues, analysis of surgical procedures such as

plastic surgery, jaw reconstruction, and many others

.Advantages and disadvantages of FEA


1] FEA can handle any complex geometry and loading conditions for analysis.

R. V. Bammankatti [Asst. Prof. Mechanical Eng. Dept.] SGMCOE Mahagaon


2] The FEA and its generalizations are the most powerful computer oriented
method ever devised to practical engineering problems.

3] FE formulation and development of codes are possible.


1] FEA cannot provide closed form solution.

2] Users are usually highly qualified (education wise) with high computer

History of FEA:

Past of FEA

The origin of the modern FEA may be traced back to the early 1900s and
has been developed and imposed since then. A few major milestones are as

1906: Civil engineering applications, structures analyzed by 1D beams.

1909: Ritz- Variational method- used trial functions to approximate solutions of

differential equations.

1915: Galerkin- Weighted residual- provides very strong basis for FEM.

1940s: R. Courant: introduced the concept of piecewise continuous functions in a

subdomain, did the mathematical foundation for present form of FEM.
He obtained approximate solution to vibration problems.

1950s: Argyris, Kelsey, Turner- Direct continuum elements, aerospace industry

engineers formulated stiffness equations of 100 degree of freedom
problem was supposed to be very large at that time. They also
published paper on stiffness and deflection of complex structures.

The formal presentation of FEM is attributed to Turner, Clough, martin

and Topp (1956), who during 1952- 1953 succeeded to directly derive
the stiffness of a rectangular panel at Boeing.
R. V. Bammankatti [Asst. Prof. Mechanical Eng. Dept.] SGMCOE Mahagaon

1960s: Clough: The term Finite element was first used by Clough (1969)

1963: R. J. Melosh: who systematized the Variational derivation of stiffness

matrices and recognized that FEA is Rayleigh- Ritz method applied on
small size elements.

1964- 1980: Major contributions are due to Bruce M. Irons, the inventor of
isoparametric models, shape functions, frontal solvers and the patch

1967: The first book devoted to FEA was written by O. C. Zienkiewicz.

Present of FEA

FEA can be applied to almost any type of analysis. This generality and
numerical efficiency is major consideration for programmers when they decided
which method to use in commercial software. The FEA delivers that versatility and
efficiency and for this reason, has dominated the market of commercial analysis
software. CAE groups get job orders like design analysis, optimization, failure
analysis, NVH analysis etc... Present day many universities introduced this
programme in undergraduate and post graduate courses as part of curriculum.

Future of FEA

Research related to solution techniques in future focus will be mainly

towards reducing time, improving quality and flow pattern of mesh generated by
auto meshing.

For reducing meshing time apart from conventional types of elements,

research is also going on about polyhedral meshing and mesh less or mesh free
analysis. Advantage of the polyhedral meshing could be described as less meshing
time with higher accuracy and that too at less number of degree of freedom. In
short it combines advantage of tetra and hex elements, but at the moment it would
be too early to answer whether polyhedral mesh would be a regular feature of
structural as well other types of analysis also.

R. V. Bammankatti [Asst. Prof. Mechanical Eng. Dept.] SGMCOE Mahagaon