Understanding Finite Element Analysis
Our expertise helps us create tailored manufacturing solutions that meet specific client objectives, and one method we employ is finite element analysis (FEA). Here’s what that involves and why it’s crucial for cost-effective and efficient manufacturing.
Finite element analysis overview
Finite element analysis is a complex mathematical model that allows us to determine stress concentrations, deflections and other issues prior to manufacture. We assess CAD drawings via specialised software to look for potential weaknesses, assess material functionality and optimise the design for manufacture.
Finite element analysis is an imperative tool to predict performance in various physical conditions such as heat, vibration, fluid flow or load-bearing. It helps us determine if a product will fail in certain environments such as extreme temperatures, or if it will perform as the design requires.
The name refers to the process whereby the software breaks a component down into a mesh of thousands of finite elements, often cubes. It then employs mathematical equations to help predict the behaviour of each element and, collectively, of the component.
Why finite element analysis?
Sean Emery, Manufacturing Engineer at Romar, explains that finite element analysis enables us to critically assess both the functionality of the design and the suitability of the material or multiple materials.
“This analysis allows us to run several different materials through the process to assess how each material performs with the product’s features that we have designed, or a client has designed… to confirm how it works in the real world.”
Finite element analysis helps us verify the best-option design and materials for optimal performance. It is a critical step to ensure that a part will be safe, efficient and cost-effective to manufacture.
Optimising efficiency and cost-effectiveness
“Our emphasis is on reducing material costs because we know that we will be manufacturing this, and we want to get as much functionality with minimal cost. By having this in-house, we’re able to run it and determine the minimum requirements to meet the functionality of the part – by sculpting out areas or reducing wall thickness for instance – without losing any of that structural integrity. So, we use FEA as a tool to help minimise the customer’s final costs.”
When we understand the best manufacturing solution prior to the manufacturing process, it saves us time and money, and there’s a key additional benefit in reduced wastage. We’re able to do this thanks to the exceptional technical knowledge of our engineering team.
The engineering expertise behind FEA
Like every technology, FEA is only as effective as the engineering expertise behind it.
As Sean Emery explains: “Not everybody is an engineer or has the technical knowledge or know-how that we have here at Romar Engineering, so what we try to do is bridge that gap between the client and the end product, so to speak. The client will have an idea of what they want to do and we take that idea and we make it happen in the most effective and efficient way that we can.”