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# Basics of Finite Element Analysis

What is FEA ?
A complex problem is divided into a smaller and
simpler problems that can be solved by using the
existing knowledge of mechanics of materials and
mathematical tools

Why FEA ?
sometimes made of different materials that as a whole
cannot be solved by existing mathematical tools.
Engineers need the FEA to evaluate their designs

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Basics of Finite Element Analysis

The process of dividing the model into small pieces is called meshing. The
behavior of each element is well-known under all possible support and load
scenarios. The finite element method uses elements with different shapes.
Elements share common points called nodes.

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

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The goal is to optimize for material
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 (2D or 3D 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 directions would be the unknowns (2D mesh).
This implies that every node has two degrees of
freedom and the solution process has to solve 2n
degrees of freedom, n is the number of nodes.

## Displacement Strain Stress

Partial derivatives Stress & Strain
relationship
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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,

U1 thru U8,
Reaction displacements
forces in x and y
directions

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Displacement within the triangular element (2D) 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 (node 1), x2=10, y2= 0 (node 2) and x3= 0, y3=4
(node 3) to obtain displacements u and v for element 1
Evaluate the constants a, b, and c (3)

10 4 0 0
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
40 0 0
2a = 40
40
a1 = 40, a2 = 0, a3 = 0
b1 = - 4, b2 = 4, b3 = 0
c1 = -10, c2 = 0, c3 = 10 Change of notations
u1 = U1, u2 = U3, u3 = U5,
Calculations
v1 = U2, v2 = U4, v3 = U6
1 = (1)U1
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 1 = (1)U1
and v for element 1.
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

Example

## Similarly the displacements within

element 2 can be expressed as,

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Example
The next step is to determine the strains using 2D strain-
displacement 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

Example
Element 2

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Normal & Shear components of stress (3D)
Normal stress is perpendicular to the cross section, (sigma).
Shear stress is parallel to the cross section, (tau). First subscript indicates
y y the axis that is
perpendicular to the face

3D xy
Element yx
Second subscript
yz xy indicates the positive
direction of the shear
stress

zy x
xz x
zx
Due to equilibrium condition;

z xy = yx
zx = xz
z zy = yz
State of Stress
Three dimensional stress matrix

Two dimensional,
Plane Stress
Stress & Strain Relationship
Uniaxial state of stress x , y = 0 , z = 0
x = (x / E ), y = - x , z = - x
Using the three dimensional (triaxial state of stress) 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 )

Stresses in
terms of strains

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Stress & Strain Relationship
There are many practical problems where the stress in the z-direction is zero,
this is referred to as the state of Plane Stress.

Shear stress
E
xy = xy G G=
2(1 + )

Matrix
form
FEA Results - Principal Stresses

## Normal stresses on planes with no

shear stresses are maximum and they
are called principal stresses 1, 2,
and 3, where 1 > 2 > 3

## 3 - (x + y + z) 2 + (x y + x z + y z - xy2 - xz2 - yz2) -

(x y z - 2 xy xz yz - x yz2 - y xz2 - z xy2 ) = 0
Plane stress, two principal stresses, 3 = 0
3 - (x + y) 2 + (x y - xy) = 0
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Failure Theories Maximum Shear Stress
Yield strength of a material is used to design components made of
ductile material

## Maximum shear stress theory (Tresca 1886)

(max )component > ( )obtained from a tension test at the yield point Failure

= Sy Sy
= 2 To avoid failure
Sy
(max )component <
2
= Sy

Sy
max = 2n
n = Safety
factor

Design equation
=Sy
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Failure Theories von Mises Stress
Distortion energy theory (von Mises-Hencky)

## Simple tension test (Sy)t

Hydrostatic state of stress (Sy)h
t
h
(Sy)h >> (Sy)t

Distortion contributes to
failure much more than h
change in volume.
h

t
(total strain energy) (strain energy due to hydrostatic stress) = strain energy
due to angular distortion > strain energy obtained from a tension test at the
yield point failure
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von Mises Stress
3D case, to avoid failure
(1 2)2 + (1 3)2 + (2 3)2
< Sy
2

2D case, 3 = 0
2 2
= (1 12 + 2 ) < Sy

Sy
= Design equation
n

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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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Formulation of the Finite Element Method

## 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
U T = [U(x, y, z) V(x, y, z) W(x, y,z)]

## The displacement U causes the strains

T = [x y z xy yz zx ]
and the corresponding stresses
T = [x y z xy yz zx ]
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

Work done by Work done by Work done by
body forces surface forces external forces
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

## Us denotes the displacement due to surface forces

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Ui denotes the displacement due to point forces
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Formulation of the Finite Element Method

## The displacement at any point measured with respect to a local

coordinate system for an element are assumed to be a function of the
displacement at the nodes.

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H (m) is the displacement interpolation matrix
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Formulation of the Finite Element Method

strain-displacement matrix

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Formulation of the Finite Element Method
Elasticity matrix

Matrix
form

## C (m) is the elasticity matrix of element m and I(m) are the

elements initial stresses. The elasticity matrix relates strains
to stress.
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Formulation of the Finite Element Method
The formula for the principle of virtual displacements can be
rewritten as the sum of integration over the volume and areas
for each finite element,

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Formulation of the Finite Element Method

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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) Represents the rows of the strain displacement matrix
C(m) Elasticity matrix of element m
H(m) Displacement interpolation matrix
U Vector of the three global displacement
components at all nodes
F Vector of the external concentrated forces
applied to the nodes

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Formulation of the Finite Element Method

## The above equation describes the static equilibrium problem.

K is the stiffness matrix.
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Continuing the example B(m) - Represents the rows of the strain
displacement matrix

## C(m) - Elasticity matrix of element m

y
x dx

4
dA = y dx y=4- x
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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, K = K1 +K2

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Example
KU = R The load vector R, equals Rc because only
concentrated loads act on the nodes.

R=

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
KU = R

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Example
The solution can be obtained by applying the boundary conditions

No deflection
at the supports

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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 (proportional), 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
The mesh 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.

## 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 surface-
like 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 auto-
mesh element 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.
There are four situations

## 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
Flat surface
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.

## Sliver surface caused by

misaligned features.

## 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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Guidelines for Part Simplification
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), shear modulus (G), and yield
strength (or ultimate strength). Strength is needed if the
program provides safety factor or performance result.
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
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.

## 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 (torque),
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 (Loads) 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 Patch 4

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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-to-
seat 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 Patch 4

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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 in-
Patch 1
plane translation induced
Patch 2
by bending of the seat Patch 3 Patch 4
without rigid body
translation or rotation.
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Legs are fixed to seat

## Applied force = 2000 N

Use On Flat Face restraint
Fixed legs

## In plane rotation is allowed

Summary of Pre-Processing
Build the geometry (CAD model for FEA)
Prepare the model for meshing
Create the finite-element mesh
constraints
Select material or provide properties
Specify analysis type (static or dynamic,
linear or non-linear, thermal, 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.

## Multiple Load and Constraint Cases

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, FEA of a connecting rod

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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

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Deploy Mechanism Assembly Analysis

Displacement

Stress
Can crusher stress
analysis
Use finer mesh size
Right click the
Mesh icon and
choose Failure
Diagnostics
edges (.1 in.)
Apply 200 N Max stress (von Mises) = 43.9 MPa
(45 lb) Sy = 96.5 MPa (Al 2014)

Safety factor
n = 96.5/43.9 = 2.2 > 2.0
Max deflection 1.13 mm < 2 mm

## Set gap as 5 in.

Fix the back plate

Design requirements
Safety factor between
2.0-2.5 and deflection
less than 2 mm
View (animated) Post-Processing
Displacements

No Review Boundary
Does the shape of deformations make sense?
Yes Conditions

View Displacement
Fringe Plot

## Are magnitudes in line with your expectations? No Review Load Magnitudes

and Units
Yes
View Stress
Fringe Plot
Review Mesh Density
Is the quality and mag. of stresses acceptable? No
and Quality of Elements
Yes
View Results Specific
To the Analysis
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FEA - Flow Chart