Finite element analysis (FEA) is a method for testing a variety of engineering concerns about products, systems, and materials. It is a computer-based approach that breaks an object down into discrete components called finite elements and applies mathematical models of physical phenomena to see when it might fail.
If you're interested in FEA services, you might wonder what some of the appropriate use cases for it are. Here are four cases where FEA analysis is likely an ideal fit.
Well-Defined Physical Problems Involving External Forces
FEA is fundamentally a brute-force testing method that's conducted in a virtual environment. Consequently, it works best with well-defined problems that involve branches of physics and chemistry that are thoroughly understood. The object and its geometry should also be well-defined, and they should operate within a well-understood domain.
Suppose you have a system that depends heavily on passing pressurized and heated fluids through a pipe. You might want to determine which metals would work best for the pipe. To analyze the problem, you could use finite element analysis to test different metals under a variety of plausible conditions. Working from the results, you would then decide which materials, if any, are optimal for the task.
Stress and Strain
Generally, FEA analysis works best when studying issues involving stress and strain. For example, a company developing a hydraulic system for heavy equipment might need to calculate the failure point for the machine. This data would then be used to make improvements and to provide ratings and warning labels.
FEA is well-suited to situations where you expect materials to deform under stress and strain. A car company might need to determine where the crumple zones in a vehicle should go. These are spots in the body of the vehicle that are designed to deform under high-impact forces to absorb the energy from a crash. Imaginably, this would be expensive and slow testing to perform with a real vehicle. However, you could quickly iterate through potential prototypes using massive computing power to simulate the expected outcomes of many kinds of crashes.
Many structural and civil engineering projects are focused on how systems handle loads. Structures often have to perform well in a variety of scenarios, including vibrations from traffic, stress from heavy vehicles, weather, and earthquake. You'd have a hard time calculating these forces for all the possible scenarios on your own, but FEA analysis allows you to rapidly study thousands or even millions of scenarios.
For more information about using FEA services, contact a local testing facility.