One of the tools available to design engineers is the use of Finite Element Analysis (FEA). Using FEA software, a model of the design is converted into a large number of small elements, then by an iteractive process, examining the effect of external loads on each element, and hence the total effect on the whole model. A typical FEA model may consist of tens of thousands of elements. External loads can include force, pressure and temperature. The location and direction of the application of the loads is defined, as well as any other constraints that may be imparted on the model, for example, simulating part of the model being rigidly fastened to another structure.
Here at PEA, we use a software package called ANSYS, which may be used for Static Structural, Harmonic Response, Linear Buckling, and Steady-State & Transient Thermal analysis. ANSYS may be used to examine properties such as stress, strains and deformations of single parts, as well as assemblies, with parts constrained together to simulate real world behaviour.
There is a geometry interface to Autodesk Inventor, our 3D solid modelling package, which allows Inventor models to be imported directly, and a link maintained so that if the Inventor model changes, the ANSYS model is updated automatically. We may also import geometry in neutral formats such as SAT, STEP, so that data from other CAD packages can be examined as well.
FEA is a method useful for stress verification, where it complements the use of traditional calculations, and is not a replacement. The method of loading, effects of external constraints & contacts must all be carefully applied, to ensure that the model will behave in the same manner as the real world structure would. This ensures that the results of the FEA are meaningful, and may be used to predict or verify stress and deformation in components and/or assemblies.
PEA is able to develop the model and undertake the analysis or alternately we can undertake the analysis on a model that has already been developed.