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Simulation tools are an important part of a product designer's toolkit.  Simulation allows you to test your designs virtually long before physical parts are available.  Use FEA and other simulation tools to shorten product development leadtimes and reduce development costs.

FEA Simulation - virtual prototyping


Bayly’s team uses a variety of different design, engineering and analysis simulation tools as part of our design process to deliver high quality product design outcomes to our customers.

Our Finite Element Analysis (FEA) tools supplement the basic modelling and analysis capability of our engineers and allow us to test the effect of loads, vibrations and temperature loadings on the products and components we design.

Our fundamental capability is based around the ANSYS suite of products.  We chose to use ANSYS products back in the 1990’s rather than going with a CAD add-on type product so that we could offer engineering consulting services unrelated to our product design services.

FEA provides opportunities to accelerate product development, prototyping and testing activities by allowing engineers to build and test virtual prototypes of their designs without the need to manufacture and test physical prototypes.

3D CAD Model – the core of virtual prototyping

The FEA model is created from the same 3D CAD model that is produced during the detail design activities of the development process.

The CAD model is modified, supported and loaded as required to analyse the effects of the loadings on the CAD model.

If you want to find out more about the basis of FEA, then check out Wikipedia.

What do we use FEA to do?

We use FEA to simulate the structural mechanics of a component or assembly of components under the physical loads (forces, gravity, accelerations, vibrations, heat sources etc.) that we assume will be applied to the product in the environment.

FEA helps us to determine;

  • Is it strong enough?
  • Will it crack?
  • How far will it bend?
  • How hot will it get?

fea_simulation_02An FEA analysis will provide a visual representation of the stress level distribution induced in a component under the assumed loading conditions of the simulation.  These stress levels can be compared against the stress limits of materials such as the material yield stress, ultimate stress or at fatigue stress limits.

The analysis also provides deflection results that can be visualised using the FEA software or otherwise interpreted to compare with deflection limits or design requirements.

Simulation using FEA does not produce exact results.  Exact results can only be determined by testing and by through life monitoring of how the components behave.

In some industries now, FEA simulation has been used for long enough and is understood well enough that designs are not physically prototyped and tested as a part of their development program. 

Rubbish In = Rubbish Out

As in all analysis, simulation and modelling, assumptions need to be made.  The results of the analysis are influenced by the assumptions we use and the way the model is setup and this is where experience and knowledge is vitally applied to get useful results that can be used in the development process.

You should always check that the people doing the analysis understand the capabilities of the FEA process and can explain to you the assumptions that they have made in undertaking the analysis.



ANSYS Software

The ANSYS simulation software that we use at Bayly provides us with Finite Element based analysis (FEA) capabilities to simulate the behaviour of systems and components in linear structural and dynamic mechanics and non-linear thermal dynamics. 

To find out more about ANSYS products vist the ANSYS website.

We recommend that you contact LEAP Australia for all your ANSYS needs.



Simulation and National Standards

Commonly, FEA simulations are not used when analysing compliance to Australian Standards and international standards.  In these cases, standards refer to traditional computational techniques and safety factors derived from empirical data and theory that are usually defined in referenced standards and include reference stress limits, deflection limits, buckling limits and more.  Scope can exist in standards for compliance through testing and other methods, but these are generally not practical for an application other than in an experimental sense.

In short, if your product needs to comply with building and structural standards such as AS1170, AS4100, AS1664, building codes and the like, then these are the domain of the traditional means of analysis and design compliance assessment and result in lots and lots of hand calculations.