3 Things to Know When Picking an FEA Software Package

1
Jan

If you are reading this, you are most likely doing research and investigating Finite Element Analysis software to select and purchase. In this post, I highlight 3 things to keep in mind when selecting an FEA software package. The 3 are listed in no particular order.

Do you have your own 3? Feel free to share in the comments below.

Meshing

Before your FEA program ever calculates a stress or displacement quantity, your model must be meshed. Unfortunately this step often requires hours or days and can very easily lead to you focusing more on meshing instead of improving the strength or stiffness of your designs.

There are many technologies available to help expedite the meshing process. One technology in particular, Direct Modeling and Meshing, will allow you to move through this step relatively quickly and save you hours or days of work. When evaluating your options, definitely ask, “how many hours/days will be needed to mesh geometry in this software package?” Click here to learn more about Direct Modeling and Meshing.

Figure 1 The simulation process first begins with geometry, followed by a mesh and definition of the simulation model, and then simulation results such as stresses and strains.

Figure 1 The simulation process first begins with geometry, followed by a mesh and definition of the simulation model, and then simulation results such as stresses and strains.

One FEA Solution

Various FEA software packages have varying levels of capability and capacity to model complex engineering problems. Some FEA codes can successfully solve large and detailed simulation models, whereas other codes will struggle and may even crash during analysis. Some FEA codes are limited in the physics that can be simulated. For example, many codes are limited to modeling small deformations. Other more advanced codes can model both small and large deformations. See Figure 2 for an example of large deformations. While the most basic FEA codes are inexpensive, the future cost of using a second FEA code or migrating to another FEA code is significantly higher.

Before making the initial investment and growing dependent on a limited FEA code, definitely evaluate your options and ensure the FEA code will continue to meet your need for years to come both in terms of capability and capacity. Picking wisely will save you a lot of effort in the future once you begin performing more complex simulations.

deformation_analysis_of_hyperelastic_material

Figure 2 In this example, a stress analysis is performed on a part composed of a hyperelastic material and subjected to large deformations. Successful completion of this analysis is challenging or incapable in many FEA codes.

Engineering Consulting Services

Selecting an FEA software package is a big step, but with great planning and research, I am sure you will make the best choice. If you are not ready to make the big step and if one of the following applies to you, consider leveraging consulting services provided by a software vendor. Click here to learn more about services.

  • If you have too many projects to focus on, and little time to spare for other activities, services can act as an additional engineering resource and help you complete some of these projects.
  • If it is your first time every using FEA software, services can perform the simulation first, then transfer details regarding the process to you, saving you time that would otherwise be spent training and establishing the process on your own.
  • If you expect to use the FEA software infrequently, it might be more cost effective to outsource the work to services.

There are many additional things to keep in mind when selecting an FEA solution, and you are more than welcome to reach out to me for additional information and suggestions. Please feel free to contact me. My contact info is below.

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