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History of Finite Element Analysis

Finite Element Analysis (FEA) was first developed in 1943 by R.

Courant, who utilized the Ritz method of numerical analysis and
minimization of variational calculus.
A paper published in 1956 by M. J. Turner, R. W. Clough, H. C.
Martin, and L. J. Topp established a broader definition of
numerical analysis. The paper centered on the "stiffness and
deflection of complex structures".
By the early 70's, FEA was limited to expensive mainframe
computers generally owned by the aeronautics, automotive,
defense, and nuclear industries. Since the rapid decline in the cost
of computers and the phenomenal increase in computing power,
FEA has been developed to an incredible precision.
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Basics of Finite Element Analysis

Why FEM ?
different materials.
Engineers need to use FEM to evaluate their
designs.

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Basics of Finite Element Analysis

FEA Applications
Evaluate the stress or temperature
distribution in a mechanical component.
Perform deflection analysis.
Analyze the kinematics or dynamic response.
Perform vibration analysis.

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Basics of Finite Element Analysis

Consider a cantilever beam shown.

Finite element analysis starts with an approximation of the region of

interest into a number of meshes (triangular elements). Each mesh is
connected to associated nodes (black dots) and thus becomes a finite
element.

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Basics of Finite Element Analysis

After approximating the object by finite elements, each
node is associated with the unknowns to be solved.
For the cantilever beam the displacements in x and y
would be the unknowns.
This implies that every node has two degrees of freedom
and the solution process has to solve 2n degrees of
freedom.
Once the displacements have been computed, the strains
are derived by partial derivatives of the displacement
function and then the stresses are computed from the
strains.

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Derive and solve the system of equations for a plate loaded as
shown. Plate thickness is 1 cm and the applied load Py is constant.
Py

using two triangular elements,

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Displacement within the triangular element with three nodes can
be assumed to be linear.

u = 1 + 2 x + 3 y
v = 1 + 2 x + 3 y

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Displacement for each node,

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Solve the equations simultaneously for and ,

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Substitute x1= 0, y1= 0, x2=10, y2= 0, x3= 0, y3=4 to obtain displacements
u and v for element 1.
(3)

Element 1

(2)

(1)

Calculations:
2a = 40
a1 = 40, a2 = 0, a3 = 0
b1 = - 4, b2 = 4, b3 = 0
c1 = -10, c2 = 0, c3 = 10

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Example
2a = 40
a1 = 40, a2 = 0, a3 = 0
b1 = - 4, b2 = 4, b3 = 0
c1 = -10, c2 = 0, c3 = 10
Calculations:

1 = (1)U1

Change of notations

u1 = U1, u2 = U3, u3 = U5, v1

= U2, v2 = U4, v3 = U6

2 = -(1/10)U1 + (1/10)U3
3 = -(1/4) U1+ (1/4) U5
1 = (1)U2
2 = -(1/10)U2 + (1/10) U4
3 = -(1/4) U2+ (1/4) U6

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Example
Substitute and to obtain displacements u
and v for element 1.

1 = (1)U1
2 = -(1/10)U1 + (1/10)U3
3 = -(1/4) U1+ (1/4) U5

u = 1 + 2 x + 3 y
v = 1 + 2 x + 3 y

1 = (1)U2
2 = -(1/10)U2 + (1/10) U4
3 = -(1/4) U2+ (1/4) U6

Calculation:

u1 = U1 + [-1/10(U1) + (1/10) U3] x + [-(1/4) U1+ (1/4) U5 ] y

v1 = U2 + [-1/10(U2) + (1/10) U4] x + [-(1/4) U2+ (1/4) U6 ] y
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Example
Rewriting the equations in the matrix form,

u1 = U1 + [-1/10(U1) + (1/10) U3]x + [-(1/4) U1+ (1/4) U5 ] y

v1= U2 + [-1/10(U2) + (1/10) U4]x + [-(1/4) U2+ (1/4) U6 ] y

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Example
Similarly the displacements within element 2 can be
expresses as

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Example
The next step is to determine the strains using 2D straindisplacement relations,

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Example
Differentiate the displacement equation to obtain the strain
u1 = U1 + [-1/10(U1) + (1/10) U3] x + [-(1/4) U1+ (1/4) U5 ] y
v1 = U2 + [-1/10(U2) + (1/10) U4] x + [-(1/4) U2+ (1/4) U6 ] y

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Example
Element 2

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Example
Using the stress-strain relations for homogeneous,
isotropic material and plane-stress,

x = (x / E ) - (y) - (z) = (x / E ) - (y / E ) - (z / E )
y = (y / E ) - (x) - (z) = (y / E ) - (x / E ) - (z / E )
z = (z / E ) - (x) - (y) = (z / E ) - (x / E ) - (y / E )
We have:

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Formulation of the Finite Element Method

The classical finite element analysis code (h version)
The system equations for solid and structural
mechanics problems are derived using the principle of
virtual displacement and work (Bathe, 1982).

The method of weighted residuals (Galerkin Method)

weighted residuals are used as one method of finite
element formulation starting from the governing differential
equation.

Potential Energy and Equilibrium; The Rayleigh-Ritz

Method.
Involves the construction of assumed displacement field.
Uses the total potential energy for an elastic body
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f B Body forces (forces distributed over the volume of the body:

gravitational forces, inertia, or magnetic)
f S surface forces (pressure of one body on another, or hydrostatic
pressure)
f i Concentrated external forces

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Formulation of the Finite Element Method

Lets denote the displacements of any point (X, Y, Z) of the object
from the unloaded configuration as UT

The goal is to calculate displacement, strains, and stresses from

the given external forces.
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Formulation of the Finite Element Method

Equilibrium condition and principle of virtual displacements

The left side represents the internal virtual work done, and the
right side represents the external work done by the actual
forces as they go through the virtual displacement.
The above equation is used to generate finite element
equations. And by approximating the object as an assemblage
of discrete finite elements, these elements are interconnected
at nodal points.

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Formulation of the Finite Element Method

The equilibrium equation can be expressed using matrix
notations for m elements.

where

B(m)
C(m)
H(m)
U
F

Represents the rows of the strain displacement matrix

Elasticity matrix of element m
Displacement interpolation matrix
Vector of the three global displacement
components at all nodes
Vector of the external concentrated forces
applied to the nodes

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The above equation describes the static equilibrium problem. K is the

stiffness matrix.
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Continuing the example

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Example
Calculating the stiffness matrix for element 2.

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Example
The stiffness of the structure as a whole is obtained by combing
the two matrices.

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Example
act on the nodes.

R=

K = UR

where Py is the known external force and F1x, F1y, F3x, and F3y are
the unknown reaction forces at the supports.
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Example
The following matrix equation can be solved for nodal point
displacements
K = UR

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Example
The solution can be obtained by applying the boundary conditions

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Example
The equation can be divided into two parts,

The first equation can be solved for the unknown nodal displacements,
U3, U4, U7, and U8. And substituting these values into the second
equation to obtain unknown reaction forces, F1x, F1y, F3x, and F3y .

Once the nodal displacements have been obtained, the strains

and stresses can be calculated.
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Finite Element Analysis

FEA is a mathematical representation of a physical system
and the solution of that mathematical representation

FEA requires three steps

Pre-Processing
Solving Matrix (solver)
Post-Processing

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FEA Pre-Processing
Mesh
Mesh is your way of communicating geometry to
the solver, the accuracy of the solution is primarily
dependent on the quality of the mesh.
The better the mesh looks, the more accurate the
solution is.
A good-looking mesh should have well-shaped
elements, and the transition between densities
should be smooth and gradual without skinny,
distorted elements.
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FEA Pre-Processing - meshing

The mesh transition from .05 to .5 element size without control of transition
(a) creates irregular mesh around the hole which will yield disappointing
results.

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FEA Pre-Processing
Finite elements supported by most finite-element codes:

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FEA Pre-Processing Elements

Beam Elements
Beam elements typically fall into two categories; able to
transmit moments or not able to transmit moments.
Rod (bar or truss) elements cannot carry moments.

Entire length of a modeled component can be captured with a

single element. This member can transmit axial loads only and
can be defined simply by a material and cross sectional area.
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FEA Pre-Processing Elements

The most general line element is a beam.

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FEA Pre-Processing Elements

Plate and Shell Modeling
Plate and shell are used interchangeably and refer to surfacelike elements used to represent thin-walled structures.

A quadrilateral mesh is usually more accurate than a mesh of

similar density based on triangles. Triangles are acceptable in
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FEA Pre-Processing Elements

Solid Element Modeling

Tetrahedral (tet) mesh is the only generally

accepted means to fill a volume, used as automesh by many FEA codes.

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CAD and FEA activities should be coordinated at the early stages
of the design process to minimize the duplication of effort.

CAD models prepared by the design group for

eventual FEA.
CAD models prepared without consideration of
FEA needs.
CAD models unsuitable for use in analysis due to
the amount of rework required.
Analytical geometry developed by or for analyst
for sole purpose of FEA.
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Solid chunky parts (thick-walled, low aspect ratio)
parts mesh cleanly directly off CAD models.

Clean geometry
geometrical features must not prevent the mesh from
being created. The model should not include buried
features.

Parent-child relationships
parametric modeling allows defining features off other

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Short edges and Sliver surfaces

Short edges and sliver surfaces usually accompany each other and
on large faces can cause highly distorted elements or a failed mesh.

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CAD Modeling for FEA Sliver Surfaces

The rounded rib on the
inside of the piston has a
thickness of .30 and a
radius of .145, as a result
a flat surface of .01 by 2.5
is created. A mesh size
of .05 is required to avoid
distorted elements. This
results in a 290,000
increased to .15, a mesh
size of .12 is sufficient
which results in 33,500
nodes.

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Flat surface

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Sliver surface caused by
misaligned features.

Fillet across shallow angle

Sliver surface caused by a slightly
undersized fillet
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Guidelines for Geometry Planning

Delay inclusion of fillets and chamfers as long as
possible.
Try to use permanent datums as references where
possible to minimize dependencies.
Avoid using fillet or draft edges as references for
other features (parent-child relationship)
Never bury a feature in your model. Delete or
redefine unwanted or incorrect features.

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Guidelines for Part Simplification

In general, features listed below could be considered for
suppression. But, consider the impact before suppression.

Outside corner breaks or rounds.

Small inside fillets far from areas of interest.
Screw threads or spline features unless they are
specifically being studied.
Small holes outside the load path.
Decorative or identification features.
Large sections of geometry that are essentially
decoupled from the behavior of interested section.
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to the rib

Holes removed

Fillet
removed

Ribs needed
for casting
removed

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Model Conversion

Try to use the same CAD system for all

components in design.
When the above is not possible, translate
geometry through kernel based tools such as
ACIS or Parasolids. Using standards based
(IGES, DXF, or VDA) translations may lead to
problem.
Visually inspect the quality of imported
geometry.
Avoid modification of the imported geometry in
Use the original geometry for analysis. If not
possible, use a translation directly from the
original model.

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Example of a solid model corrupted by

IGES transfer

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FEA Pre-Processing
Material Properties
The only material properties that are generally required
by an isotropic, linear static FEA are: Youngs modulus
(E), Poissons ratio (v), and shear modulus (G).
G = E / 2(1+v)
Provide only two of the three properties.
Thermal expansion and simulation analysis require
coefficient of thermal expansion, conductivity and
specific heat values.

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FEA Pre-Processing
Nonlinear Material Properties
A multi-linear model requires the input of stress-strain
data pairs to essentially communicate the stress-strain
curve from testing to the FE model
Highly deformable, low stiffness, incompressible materials,
such as rubber and other synthetic elastomers require
distortional and volumetric constants or a more complete set
of tensile, compressive, and shear force versus stretch curve.
A creep analysis requires time and temperature dependent
creep properties. Plastic parts are extremely sensitive to this
phenomenon
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FEA Pre-Processing
If you are selecting the property set from the codes library,
be aware of the assumptions made with this selection.
Their properties hold constant throughout the assigned entity.
Average values are used (variation could be up to 15%).
Localized changes due to heat or other processing effects are
not accounted for.
Any impurities present in the parent material are neglected.
If possible, obtain material property values specific to the
application under analysis.
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FEA Pre-Processing
Boundary Conditions

In FEA, the name of the game is boundary

condition, that is calculating the load and figuring
out constraints that each component experiences in
its working environment.
Garbage in, garbage out
The results of FEA should include a complete
discussion of the boundary conditions.

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Boundary Conditions
Loads are used to represent inputs to the system.
They can be in the forms of forces, moments,
pressures, temperature, or accelerations.
Constraints
Constraints are used as reactions to the applied
loads. Constraints can resist translational or
rotational deformation induced by applied loads.

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Boundary Conditions
Linear Static Analysis
Boundary conditions are assumed constant from
application to final deformation of system and all loads
are applied gradually to their full magnitude.

Dynamic Analysis
The boundary conditions vary with time.

Non-linear Analysis
The orientation and distribution of the boundary
conditions vary as displacement of the structure is
calculated.

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Boundary Conditions
Degrees of Freedom
Spatial DOFs refer to the three translational and three rotational
modes of displacement that are possible for any part in 3D
space. A constraint scheme must remove all six DOFs for the
analysis to run.
Elemental DOFs refer to the ability of each element to transmit
constrain a DOF that is not supported by the element to which
it is applied.

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Boundary Conditions
Constraints and their geometric equivalent in classic
beam calculation.
Fixed support

Pin support

Roller support

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Boundary Conditions
A solid face should always have at least three points in
contact with the rest of the structure. A solid element
should never be constrained by less than three points and
only translational DOFs must be fixed.

Accuracy
The choice of boundary conditions has a direct impact
on the overall accuracy of the model.
Over-constrained model an overly stiff model due
to poorly applied constraints.

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Boundary Conditions -Example

Excessive Constraints
Model of the chair seat with patches representing the tops of
the legs.

Patch 1
Patch 2
Patch 3

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Boundary Conditions -Example

It may appear to be acceptable to constrain each circular patch
in vertical translation while leaving the rotational DOFs
unconstraint. This causes the seat to behave as if the leg-toseat interfaces were completely fixed.
A more realistic constraint scheme would be to pin the
center point of each circular patch (translational),
allowing the patch to rotate. Each point should be fixed
vertically, and horizontal constraints should be selectively
applied so that in-plane spatial rotation and rigid body
translation is removed without causing excessive
constraints.
Patch 1
Patch 2
Patch 3

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Boundary Conditions -Example

Constraining the center point of patch 1 in all 3
translational DOFs.
Constraining x and y translations of the center point of
patch 2.
Constraining z and y translation of the center point of
patch 3.
Constraining just the y translation of the center point of
patch 4.
This scheme allows inplane translation induced
by bending of the seat
without rigid body
translation or rotation.
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Patch 1
Patch 2
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Summary of Pre-Processing
Build the geometry
Make the finite-element mesh
constraints
Provide properties of material
Specify analysis type (static or dynamic,
linear or non-linear, plane stress, etc.)
These activities are called finite element modeling.
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Solving the Model - Solver

Once the mesh is complete, and the properties and
boundary conditions have been applied, it is time to solve
the model. In most cases, this will be the point where you
can take a deep breath, push a button and relax while the
computer does the work for a change.

In most cases submitting a run with multiple load cases will
be faster than running sequential, complete solutions for
Final Model Check

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Post-Processing, Displacement Magnitude

Unexpectedly high or low displacements (by order of magnitude)
could be caused by an improper definition of load and/or
elemental properties.

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Post-Processing, Displacement Animation

Animation of the model displacements serves as the best means of
visualizing the response of the model to its boundary conditions.

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Post-Processing, Stress Results

The magnitude of the stresses should not be entirely unexpected.

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Post-Processing, thermal analysis

Deformation of a duct under thermal load

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View Animated
Displacements

Post-Processing

Does the shape of deformations make sense?

No

Yes

Review Boundary
Conditions

View Displacement
Fringe Plot
Are magnitudes in line with your expectations? No
Yes

and Units

View Stress
Fringe Plot
Is the quality and mag. Of stresses acceptable? No

Review Mesh Density

and Quality of Elements

Yes

To the Analysis

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