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Aircraft Maintenance Technology

AE 422 - Structures II

Assignment:

An Overview: Finite Element Analysis

Submitted by:

Velazquez, Revor E.

Submitted to:

November 5, 2018

A. BRIEF HISTORY OF FINITE ELEMENT ANALYSIS (FEA)

In the 40s, Finite Element Analysis traced back its roots from the development of 'matrix theory

of structural analysis'. Until 50s, this method of analysis satisfactorily solved problems however it

caught up with the limitation of having to solve matrices on the order of tens up to thousands of

rows and columns. This arduous numerical method was deemed impractical even with the most

brilliant human computer, although still possible. By the 60s, electronic computers emerged and

during a conference about electronic computation, one paper discussed the technique for solving

plane stress analysis and where the term finite element was coined. And at that moment, it is

considered to be the launching of finite elements. Quickly, people used this technique in writing

their programs. Finally by the 70s, large general-purpose finite element such as NASTRAN was

introduced. These programs before graphical pre- and post-processors, engineers would need to

manually input all the parameters - including nodes and their locations, connectivity of the

elements, and material properties. And they didn't have a way to tell if there's an error until the

results looked untrue. Eventually by the 80s, graphical pre- and post-processors became available

and made the construction of finite element models easier. It also reduced human errors. In the

long run, the problems got more complex however by the 90s, automatic meshing technology

allows better and faster computing and FEA capabilities. In summary, if today’s problems seem

complex for electronic computers, tomorrow it will eventually be caught up being faster and

stronger. This never-ending race between human needs and technology will reliably bring out

the best in our humanity.

Reference: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dMcw0bulgbc

One reason for the finite element method’s success in multi-physics analysis is that it is a very

general method. Solving the resulting equation systems are the same or very similar to well-

known and efficient methods used for structural and electromagnetics analysis. Another reason

for the method’s success is that it makes it easy to “increase the order of the elements” so that

the physics fields can be approximated very accurately. This typically corresponds to locally

approximating the physics fields with polynomials of “higher order,” such as second- and third-

degree polynomials, or higher. This technique is often critical, for example, in the case of accurate

stress analysis.

Another advantage with the finite-element method, which is particularly important for multi-

physics analysis, is that you can combine different kinds of functions that approximate the

solution within each element. This is called mixed formulations. This is important, for example, in

the case of electromagnetic heating. The physics and mathematics require one type of function

for the electromagnetic field and another type of function for heat transfer; they both need to be

tightly coupled to get an accurate solution and for the solution to converge. Mixed formulations

are straightforward to handle the finite-element method, but difficult or impossible with other

methods.

Page 2 of 14

The benefits with both the finite-element method and the finite-volume method are that curved

and irregular CAD geometries are handled in a natural way.

However, the mathematics behind the finite-element method is quite advanced and thus the

method requires mathematical expertise for its implementation. Implementations of finite-

difference and finite-volume methods are comparatively straightforward.

For certain time-dependent simulations, one needs to use so-called explicit solvers for reasons of

efficiency. Implementing such solver techniques is more difficult for the finite-element method

than for the finite-difference and finite-volume methods. However, this has successfully been

commercialized in some cases, such as in crash simulations.

The finite-difference method is defined dimension per dimension; this makes it easy to increase

the “element order” to get higher-order accuracy. If you can fit the simulation in a rectangular or

box-shaped geometry using a regular grid, efficient implementations are much easier than for

finite-element and finite-volume methods. Regular grids are useful for very-large-scale

simulations on supercomputers often used in, as mentioned before, meteorological, seismological,

and astrophysical simulations.

With the finite-difference method, you may easily run into problems handling curved boundaries

for the purpose of defining the boundary conditions. Boundary conditions are needed to truncate

the computational domain. They represent communication with the surrounding world, which is

the part that you do not want included in your simulation. If one can overcome the boundary-

condition problem on curved boundaries, the method gives very efficient and high quality results.

For computations that need high accuracy, the extra effort in making boundary-fitted meshes and

the associated complications of such meshes for the implementation may be worth it. Examples

include Formula 1 car computational-fluid-dynamic (CFD) simulations and space-shuttle CFD

simulations. The finite-difference method is more difficult to use for handling material

discontinuities. In addition, it does not lend itself for local grid refinement or anything similar to

“adaptive mesh refinement.” This may be needed to resolve local rapid variations in solutions

such as around a corner of a complex shape, as described earlier.

The finite-volume method is a natural choice for CFD problems, since the partial differential

equations you have to solve for CFD are conservation laws. However, both finite differences and

finite elements can also be used for CFD. Efficient technology for CFD with the finite-element

method has become increasingly popular over the last 10 to 15 years. Techniques for CFD with

the finite-difference and finite-volume method have been known and used much longer.

The finite-volume method’s strength is that it only needs to do flux evaluation for the cell

boundaries. This also holds for nonlinear problems, which makes it extra powerful for robust

handling of (nonlinear) conservation laws appearing in transport problems.

Page 3 of 14

The local accuracy of the finite-volume method, such as close to a corner of interest, can be

increased by refining the mesh around that corner, similar to the finite-element method. However,

the functions that approximate the solution when using the finite-volume method cannot be

easily made of higher order. This is a disadvantage of the finite-volume method compared to the

finite-element and finite-difference methods.

The Finite Element Analysis (FEA) is a numerical method for solving problems of engineering and

mathematical physics. It is useful for problems with complicated geometries, loadings, and

material properties where analytical solutions cannot be obtained.

In relation with analytical solution, the study of stress analysis for trusses, beams, and other simple

structures are carried out based on dramatic simplification and idealization of the mass

concentrated at the center of gravity and the beam simplified as a line segment with the same

cross-section. Its design is based on the calculation results of the idealized structure and a large

safety factor of 1.5 to 3.

Using the FEA, there are different considerations that must be considered because the design

geometry is a lot more complex; and the accuracy requirement is a lot higher. It is needed to

understand the physical behaviors of a complex object particularly its strength, heat transfer

capability, fluid flow, and etc. It is also necessary to predict the performance and behavior of the

design in order to calculate the safety margin, and to identify the weakness of the design

accurately.

1. Mechanical/Aerospace/Civil/Automotive Engineering

2. Structural/Stress Analysis

3. Static/Dynamic or Linear/Nonlinear

4. Fluid Flow

5. Heat Transfer

6. Electromagnetic Fields

7. Soil Mechanics

8. Acoustics

9. Biomechanics

1. 1D or Line Element – examples are spring, truss, beam, and pipe.

2. 2D or Plane Element – examples are membranes, plates, and shells.

3. 3D or Solid Element – where the 3D fields are temperature, displacement, stress, and flow

velocity.

Page 4 of 14

Features

It obtains a set of algebraic equations to solve for unknown (first) nodal quantity (displacement).

The secondary quantities (stresses and strains) are expressed in terms of nodal values of primary

quantity.

Principles of FEA

The finite element method (FEM), or finite element analysis (FEA), is a computational technique

used to obtain approximate solutions of boundary value problems in engineering. Boundary value

problems are also called field problems. The field is the domain of interest and most often

represents a physical structure. The field variables are the dependent variables of interest

governed by the differential equation. The boundary conditions are the specified values of the

field variables (or related variables such as derivatives) on the boundaries of the field.

1. Preprocessing

• Define the geometric domain of the problem.

• Define the element type(s) to be used (Chapter 6).

• Define the material properties of the elements.

• Define the geometric properties of the elements (length, area, and the like).

• Define the element connectivities (mesh the model).

• Define the physical constraints (boundary conditions). Define the loadings.

2. Solution

• Computes the unknown values of the primary field variable(s)

• Computed values are then used by back substitution to compute additional,

derived variables, such as reaction forces, element stresses, and heat flow.

3. Post Processing

• Postprocessor software contains sophisticated routines used for sorting, printing,

and plotting selected results from a finite element solution

Stiffness Matrix

The primary characteristics of a finite element are embodied in the element stiffness matrix. For

a structural finite element, the stiffness matrix contains the geometric and material behavior

information that indicates the resistance of the element to deformation when subjected to

Page 5 of 14

loading. Such deformation may include axial, bending, shear, and torsional effects. For finite

elements used in nonstructural analyses, such as fluid flow and heat transfer, the term stiffness

matrix is also used, since the matrix represents the resistance of the element to change when

subjected to external influences.

D. LIST OF SOFTWARE

for Geotechnical Problems. This is coming with a

pre and post processors for easy data entry and

result visualization which was released on 2006 by

John P. Carter and Nigel P. Balaam in University of

Sydney.

application for the solution physical problems

based on the Hermes library which was released

on March 03, 2014 by the University of West

Bohemia.

solver uses a partially compatible ABAQUS file

format. The pre/post-processor generates input

data for many FEA and CFD applications. This was

released on July 31, 2016 by Guido Dhondt and

Klaus Wittig.

finite element method (FEM). Its name is an abbreviation of

“Computer Aided Learning of the Finite Element Method.” The

program can be used for different types of structural mechanics

problems and field problems. This was released on December 15,

2015 by the Lund University.

for civil and structural engineering finite element

analysis and numeric simulation in structural

mechanics which is written in Python and Fortran.

This was released on December 14, 2015 by EDF.

Page 6 of 14

6. DIANA FEA – it is a general-purpose finite element

package utilized by civil, structural, and

geotechnical engineers which was released on

November 14, 2016 by DIANA FEA BV of The

Netherlands.

element codes, scaling from laptops to clusters

with 10,000+ cores and written in C++. This was

released on August 01, 2015 by Wolfgang Bangerth,

Timo Heister, Guido Kanschat, Matthias Maier et al.

environment, written in C++ which was released

on February 29, 2016 by Christoph Grüninger.

Ministry of Education's CSC, written primarily in Fortran (written in Fortran90, C and C++)

on May 05, 2015.

Page 7 of 14

10. FEATFLOW – it is a subroutine system for the

numerical solution of the incompressible Navier-

Stokes equations in two and three space

dimensions which was developed by the

University of Heidelberg that was released on 1998.

Multiphysics FEM Solver and GUI Toolbox which

was released on September 16, 2015.

analysis program which is designed for research

and educational use that was derived from

the FEAP program which was released on

September 19, 2015 by Robert L. Taylor.

with the ability to edit complex geometry and

develop highly specialized mesh for quick,

accurate results. This was released on September

12, 2016 by Siemens PLM.

Biomechanics that was released on October 09,

2015 by the University of Utah, MRL.

Page 8 of 14

15. FEniCS Project – a software package developed by

American and European researchers with the goal

to enable automated solution of differential

equations on July 29, 2015.

testing and finite element simulations. The

problem is defined in terms of its variational

formulation. This was released on March 11, 2016

by Université Pierre et Marie Curie and

Laboratoire Jacques-Louis Lions.

written in C++ with interfaces for Python, Matlab

and Scilab. It focuses on modeling of contact

mechanics and discontinuities (e.g. cracks). It was

released on July 2015.

rapid development of space- and space-time

adaptive HP-FEM solvers which was released on

March 01, 2014.

solver, written in C++ that was released on

February 02, 2015 by Bořek Patzák.

includes finite element analysis through

tetrahedral decomposition of arbitrary grids. This

was released on December 12, 2015.

Page 9 of 14

21. OpenSees – it is an open system for Earthquake

Engineering Simulation.

package. The present version Z88Aurora V3 offers,

in addition to static strength analysis modules

such as non-linear strength calculations (large

displacements), simulations with non-linear

materials, natural frequency and static thermal

analysis. This was released on March 2015 by Frank

Rieg.

from SIMULIA, owned by Dassault Systemes on

November 2015.

Altair.

Page 10 of 14

25. ADINA – it is a finite element software for

structural, fluid, heat transfer, electromagnetic, and

multi-physics problems, including fluid-structure

interaction and thermo-mechanical coupling.

structural analysis, including international design

eurocodes. This was released on September 2013

by GRAITEC.

software of Autodesk.

CAE software package which was released on

January 2016.

Software which is formerly known as FEMLAB that

was released on November 16, 2015 by COMSOL

Inc.

Page 11 of 14

30. CosmosWorks – it is part of SolidWorks developed

by the Dassault Systèmes SolidWorks Corp.

by the Tor Cooperative on December 22, 2015.

the LSTC - Livermore Software Technology

Corporation on March 2015.

NASTRAN, Siemens PLM NX Nastran on 2014

for NASA, now available commercially from

several software companies.

unified, scalable, open and extensible environment

for 3D CAE with connections to design, 1D

simulation, test and data management. This was

released on 2016.

Page 12 of 14

35. RFEM – a 3D finite element analysis software

developed by Dlubal Software on February 2016.

platform developed by SimScale GmbH on July

2013.

structural, geotechnical, heat transfer and seepage

analysis developed by Intuition Software on

January 2016.

the german company Intes GmbH.

E. NUMERICAL METHODS

It refers to a way of computing something that is usually symbolic using numbers. In essence

numerical methods are ways of approximating solutions to mathematical problems using

numerical values rather than symbolic values.

Page 13 of 14

Examples of numerical methods used in FEA:

1. Elements of Hilbert Space Theory

2. Elements of the Theory of Sobolev Spaces and Variational Formulation of Boundary–Value

Problems in One Dimension

3. Galerkin Finite Element Methods for Two–Point Boundary–Value Problems

4. Results from the Theory of Sobolev Spaces and the Variational Formulation of Elliptic

Boundary–Value Problems in RN

5. The Galerkin Finite Element Method for Elliptic Boundary–Value Problems

6. The Galerkin Finite Element Method for the Heat Equation

7. The Galerkin Finite Element Method for the Wave Equation

REFERENCES:

1. List of Finite Element Software Packages. [Retrieved online on November 04, 2018 at

https://ipfs.io/ipfs/QmXoypizjW3WknFiJnKLwHCnL72vedxjQkDDP1mXWo6uco/wiki/List_o

f_finite_element_software_packages.html]

2. Vassilios A. Dougalis. FINITE ELEMENT METHODS FOR THE NUMERICAL SOLUTION OF

PARTIAL DIFFERENTIAL EQUATIONS. Department of Mathematics, University of Athens,

Greece and Institute of Applied and Computational Mathematics, FORTH, Greece. 2013.

3. Introduction to Finite Element Analysis and Finite Element Methods.

4. Sjodin, B. 2016. What’s the difference between FEM, FDM and FVM?. [Retrieved online on

November 3, 2018 at https://www.machinedesign.com/fea-and-simulation/what-s-

difference-between-fem-fdm-and-fvm]

Page 14 of 14

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