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Finite Element Analysis

The finite element method is a powerful numerical tool for analyzing mechanical components and systems. The representation of a component or system mathematically with finite elements generally involves a discretization of the structure into many small pieces, e.g. small brick-like elements (hence the name of the method). The solution to the equations that govern the behavior of the structure is approximated on each and every brick. The collective effect of all the bricks is taken into account during a step that synthesizes the solutions for each brick into one solution valid for the entire structure. This global solution represents the solution to the equations that govern the structure's behavior.  (reference: Dr. Zee)

The finite element method provides a tool to predict and evaluate component response, elastic or non-linear plastic, subjected to thermal and structural loads. Thermal analyses may include convection, conduction, and radiation heat transfer, as well as various thermal transients and thermal shocks. Structural analyses may include all types of constant or cyclic loads, mechanical or thermal, along with non-linearities, such as opening/closing of contact surfaces, friction, and non-linear material behavior. Finite element analysis can be used during a failure study in such ways as: