INTRODUCTION

What is Finite Element Analysis?

Finite Element Analysis, commonly called FEA, is a method of numerical analysis. FEA is used for solving problems in many engineering disciplines such as machine design, acoustics, electromagnetism, soil mechanics, fluid dynamics, and many others. In mathematical terms, FEA is a numerical technique used for solving field problems described by a set of partial differential equations.

In mechanical engineering, FEA is widely used for solving structural, vibration, and thermal problems. However, FEA is not the only available tool of numerical analysis. Other numerical methods include the Finite Difference Method, the Boundary Element Method, and the Finite Volumes Method to mention just a few. However, due to its versatility and high numerical efficiency, FEA has come to dominate the engineering analysis software market, while other methods have been relegated to niche applications. You can use FEA to analyze any shape; FEA works with different levels of geometry idealization and provides results with the desired accuracy. When implemented into modern commercial software, both FEA theory and numerical problem formulation become completely transparent to users.

Who should use Finite Element Analysis?

As a powerful tool for engineering analysis, FEA is used to solve problems ranging from very simple to very complex. Design engineers use FEA during the product development process to analyze the design-in-progress. Time constraints and limited availability of product data call for many simplifications of the analysis models. At the other end of scale, specialized
analysts implement FEA to solve very advanced problems, such as vehicle crash dynamics, hydro forming, or air bag deployment. This book focuses on how design engineers use FEA as a design tool. Therefore, we first need to explain what exactly distinguishes FEA performed by design engineers from "regular" FEA. We will then highlight the most essential FEA characteristics for design engineers as opposed to those for analysts.

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