Finite Element Method in Computer Simulation

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Describe, in detail, the basic principle of finite element analysis.

Finite element method, abbreviated as FEA, is a specific numerical technique designed to find approximate solutions for PDE, or partial different equations, plus the integral equations, although these are less often utilized (Widas 1997). The FEA, which is often known as finite element method, is capable of dividing up difficult problems into smaller elements, as the smaller problems are easier to solve. Each of the equations is linear as long as the PDE is linear. The equations are capable of being solved through algebraic terms and methods, although utilizing computer programming is possible to make the process easier.  With a computer program, not only are more in-depth solutions capable, but further graphs and information are able to be produced and analyzed, as this allows for better results, regardless of the field at work. Some industries not completely rely on the services provided by these computer programs and the results the computer titles are able to provide for a user.

In order to correctly use the FEA method of element analysis, each different equation must be numerically stable, in order to avoid errors in the input method, as these cause calculation disruptions and give meaningless outputs. The finite element analysis is best used for solving partial different equations with complicated domains, when the precision varies over the entire domain, when there is a domain change and where there is just a general lack of smoothness for the equation.

The finite element analysis is capable of graphing out the necessary information, which is helpful especially when it comes to determining specific pinpoint elements with adjusting variables

(Roylance 2001). This includes car crash tests, when different variables are adjusted in order to read the impact of a vehicle. This includes the actual direction of the vehicle, the speed, wind resistance and several other elements. With an utilized computer program it is possible to graph out three-dimensional layers in order to show the exact make up and explanation of the analysis. The FEM is able to give detailed visitations, especially when a material is able to bend and twist (such as in a car crash test where the metal bends, snaps or breaks due to the impact). FEM software is necessary in order to understand the exact impact and the way it affects the vehicle. It gives a more refined and detailed explanation towards what exactly is taking place in the vehicle (Hutton 2004).

Describe how FEM software might be used in industry. Include some of the issues regarding the use of FEA, in particular consider the issue of appropriate modeling and analysis solver ‘run time’.

When it comes to utilizing FEM software in industry, it ultimately depends on the software title itself, as different programs are used for different industries. There is a larger number of programs, both open source and commercial based, capable of elping out professionals in their task to analyze finite element and performance. Open source programs are free to use and download, and although not often heavily utilized in large-scale operation, these are necessary for smaller practices that do not possess the financial capital for purchasing the larger programs. Code Aster is a title designed for civil and structural engineering FEM in order to study the structural mechanics of a facility and design where the algorithm is written in both Python and Fortran. When it comes to consumer and pay-to-use software, there are dozens of different options, including ALGOR, JMAG, FlesPDE and many others. Each of these programs is again designed for a specific industry analysis (Gonzalex 2011). FEFLOW is designed to simulate groundwater flow while Flexcom is designed for offshore oil and gas studies and is heavily used in this industry. HyperSizer is designed for analyzing composite materials. With the different available programs, it is important to understand the integration of each and understand how the programs relate with the given industries, as not all are capable of crossing platforms into a different industrial spectrum (Cailletaud 2012).  Some computer programs do allow for customization, which means the program is open for adjustment and it is capable of working on multiple industrial fields, instead of just one. This makes these kinds of programs helpful for learning, as a worker is able to take the software between the different companies and industries in order to use the analyzing software. The more information the software is capable of rendering over and the more industrial fields it can be utilized with, the better. Usually those programs with customization options stay either in construction base or liquid base analysis. This means, a program used to graph out the flow of oil fields, water and other liquids is not going to be used to determine the body impact of a vehicle during a crash test, possible structural weaknesses in architecture and similar elements such as this.

Graphing out these sort of intricate and detailed analysis of oil rigs, car crashes, water flow and other industrial services requires a considerable amount of computer RAM and memory, and often times, when the software is running in real time it causes runtime errors. This is because the graphical analysis causes a drain on the computer’s processing power and may cause it to freeze up, slow down or even crash. In order to solve run time issues it is necessary either to increase the total RAM processing power and follow the specific and detailed instructions regarding system requirements for the software, or to reduce the real time rendering quality of the software, as this reduces the strain on the computer’s processing and RAM and improves performance and run time (Heckman 1998). The computer program always comes with specific information regarding the kind of computer and the necessary hardware required to perform the necessary tasks to the utmost quality. It is generally not possible for the software to do this if the computer falls short of the necessary equipment. More often than not the computer is just going to freeze or crash. Even iif the minimum requirements are met, the computer might still freeze up, as other programs take up RAM and processing speed in the background, as the computer is going to run programs associated with the operating system. In order to best utilize the program, without reducing the overall visual quality of the content, it is necessary for the highest-end computer at the time to run the program. Upgrading a current computer’s RAM, processor and motherboard are acceptable, if completely replacing the computer is not desirable, and installing a solid state drive, instead of a standard hard drive is also a perk, as this reduced the start up time and the time it takes the hard drive to recall information and run the program.

Critically appraise Ansys as a piece of FEA software. Identify strengths and weaknesses of the software. Describe your experience with the software.

Ansys is an industrial FEA software title (instead of the open source option), utilized by a number of industries, including energy, healthcare, academic, aerospace, automotive, construction and chemical processing. With the wide number of industries Ansys is able to cover, it makes it a necessary program to understand and gain experience with. It primarily focuses on structural analysis, as it is typically not used for liquid based studies. This is one of the shortcomings of the program, but different titles are necessary for different services. The software is almost completely customizable, so it is possible to adjust its analysis services in order to fit the consumer’s need, which is important as every industry has different specifications, which must be met. As the program can be adjusted to meet the needs of the field, it is able to be used not only in industrial settings, but also healthcare services, in order to determine the results of medical testing. This means someone with knowledge regarding the software is able to obtain more jobs and further employment from not only construction and architectural firms, but even medical facilities as well, which makes the person with extensive knowledge regarding this particular title very valuable. The almost complete customization of the software is one of the programs’ best strengths as it allows the user to adjust the services for specific purposes. I do not have much experience with the software, as I have only utilized it in passing. Further experience with the software is necessary in order to provide a complete understanding and review of the program, but for the access I do have with the program, the customization is its greatest feature. Due to all of the important and extensive features of the title, and the different industries the program is able to be used in, I find it very important to learn every piece of knowledge I can with it as I look to gain more and more experience with the title. After all, with a program such as this and its customization features, it is possible to obtain a job in almost any sort of field requiring data analysis such as this. As this is the ultimate goal of higher education, learning about the software becomes more of a necessity than just a general pursuit. 

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