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Finite Element Method (FEM)

ME802
General Steps of the
Finite Element Method

Step 1 Step 6 Step 7


Discretise and Solve for unknown Solve for element
select the element degree of freedom strains and stresses
types (displacements)

Step 2 Step 5 Step 8


Select a Assemble to obtain Interpret the results
global equations and
displacement apply boundary
function conditions

Step 3 Step 4 Step 1 & 8 are generally


Define the strain / Derive the element decided by Analyst
displacement and stiffness matrix and Steps 2-7 are carried out
stress / strain equations automatically by
relationships computer program
Applications of FEM
Applications of the
Finite Element Method

Typical structural application areas include

Truss and frame analysis such as pedestrian walk bridges, high rise
building frames, and windmill towers

Stress concentration problems associated with holes, fillets, and


other changes in geometry such as automotive parts, pressure
vessels, medical devices, aircraft and sports equipment

Buckling problems such as in columns, frames and vessels

Vibration analysis such as in vibratory equipment

Impact problems including crash analysis of vehicles, projectile


impact, and bodies falling and impacting object
Applications of the
Finite Element Method

Typical nonstructural application areas include


Heat transfer such as in electronic devices emitting heat as
in a personal computer microprocessor chip, engines and
cooling fins

Fluid flow including seepage through porous media such as


water seeping through earthen dams

Distribution of electric or magnetic potential such as in


antennas and transistors

Biomechanical Engineering Problems


Analyses of human spine, skull, hip joints, jaw/gum tooth
implants, heart, and eye
Examples

Railroad Control Tower


Three dimensional frame
comprising a series of beam
type elements

Elements: 48

Nodes: 28

Each node has three rotation


and three displacement
components, known as
Degree of Freedom (dof)

Displacements and stresses


can be obtained using this
model
Examples

Underground Box Culvert


Subjected to ground shock
loading from a bomb
explosion

333 plane strain two


dimensional triangular and
rectangular elements for soil
and concrete box

40 one dimensional bar or


truss elements to model steel
reinforcement in the box

Due to symmetry, half of the


box is analysed
A structure that allows water to flow under
a road, railroad, trail, or similar obstruction
Examples

Hydraulic Cylinder Rod End

297 plane strain triangular elements


Symmetry was used and half of the rod was analysed
Areas of high stress concentration can be located by this analysis
Examples

Chimney Stack Section


584 beam elements used to
model the vertical and
horizontal stiffeners
252 flat-plate elements were
used to model the inner
wooden form and concrete
shell
Because of irregular loading
pattern on structure, three
dimensional model was
used
Displacements and stresses
in concrete were of prime
concern
Examples

Steel Die for Plastic Film Making Process


240 axisymmetric elements used to model the three dimensional die
Examples

Swing Casting for a Backhoe Frame


Three dimensional solid elements
used to model the irregular shape of
casting
Not possible to model correctly with
two dimensional elements
Examples

Surface mount electronic


assembly
Low cycle thermal fatigue
Creep material model
Damage material model
Thermal loading
Three dimensional model
Examples 710G Backhoe Bucket
78,566 thin shell linear quadrilateral element for
bucket and coupler
83,104 solid linear brick elements to model
bosses
212 beam elements for lift arms, lift arm
cylinders and guide links
Examples

Bird Strike on an Aircraft Wing


Experimental bird strike
testing is part of certification
process
Includes nonlinear behaviour
and contact
Includes progressive
damage and failure of
ductile materials
Multipart analysis
Examples

Water landing of space flight


re-entry vehicles
Impart highly dynamic loads
on the crew and payload
during water landing
Fluid-structure interaction
modelling required
Dynamic forces
Contact
Advantages of
Finite Element Method

Model irregularly shaped bodies quite easily

Handle general load conditions without difficulty

Model bodies composed of several different materials because the


element equations are evaluated individually

Handle unlimited numbers and kinds of boundary conditions

Vary the size of the elements to make it possible to use small elements
where necessary

Alter the finite element model relatively easily and cheaply

Include dynamic effects

Handle nonlinear behaviour existing with large deformations and


nonlinear materials
Computer Programs for FEM

Large commercial programs

Designed to solve many types of problems

Special purpose programs

Developed to solve specific problems


Advantages of General Purpose
FEM Programs

Input is well organised and developed with user ease in mind

Can solve many types of problems of large or small size with


same input format

Can be expanded by adding new modules for new kind of


problems and kept current with minimum effort

With increased storage capacity and computational


efficiency of PCs, many general purpose programs run on PCs

Many commercially available programs have become very


attractive in price and can solve a wide range of problems
Disadvantages of General Purpose
FEM Programs

Initial cost of developing general purpose programs is high

May be less efficient than special purpose program for some


class of problems because of extra checks

Many of the programs are proprietary. Hence user has little


access to the logic of the program

Any revision is to be carried out by developers


Advantages of Special Purpose
FEM Programs

The programs are usually relatively short, with low development


costs

Small computers are able to run the programs

Additions can be made to the program quickly and at low cost

The programs are efficient in solving the problems they were


designed to solve

Disadvantages of Special Purpose FEM Programs


Major disadvantage is their inability to solve different classes of
problems
Commercially Available FEM Programs

Algor
Abaqus
ANSYS
COSMOS/M
COMSOL
LS-DYNA
MSC Marc
MSC/NASTRAN
NISA
ROSHAZ
SAP
References

Chapter 1, A First Course in the finite element method (fifth


edition) by Daryl L. Logan, Cengage Learning, 2012.