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How To Choose A Finite Element Pre- And Post-Processor

The analysis of an engineering problem requires the formulation and solution of the governing equations for the behaviour of the structure under the applied loading conditions. In many cases, particularly when the geometry or loading is complex, the system is most readily analyses using the Finite Element method, as described in the book ‘Why do Finite Element Analysis? ’. The development of Finite Element Analysis software has progressed along three separate but closely-related paths. The essential core software that solves the mathematical problem is supported at the data-preparation stage by a pre-processing program and at the results presentation and interpretation stage by a post-processing program. The primary function of a pre-processor is to facilitate the creation of a finite element model simulating the structure or component, its loading and its supports. The primary function of a post-processor is to present the results of a finite element analysis in a form that is readily understood by the engineer, and ultimately by his managers or clients.

The purpose of this book is to describe the roles of the pre and post-processors in the analysis of engineering structures, to indicate the breadth of facilities that might be offered by commercially-available programs, and to guide the user in the evaluation of the capability of the programs to his engineering analysis requirements.




Operating Environment

2.1 Hardware

2.2 Communication with the program – the User Interface

2.3 Communication between Programs – Translators and Neutral Formats

2.4 Technical Support


3.1 The Source of the Data

3.2 The Geometry Model
3.2.1 The Hierarchical Approach
3.2.2 Solid Modellers
3.2.3 Accuracy
3.3 The Finite Element Mesh
3.3.1 Manual/Semi-automatic Mesh Generation
3.3.2 Automatic Mesh Generation
3.3.3 Adaptive Refinement and Design Optimisation
3.3.4 Merging
3.4 Element Stiffness
3.4.1 Geometrical Properties
3.4.2 Material Properties
3.4.3 Composite Laminates

3.5 Loading/Boundary Conditions and External Constraints

3.6 Model Viewing and Verification

3.7 Model Editing

3.8 General Capabilities


4.1 Data Extrapolation

4.2 Error Estimation

4.3 Results Presentation
4.3.1 Displacements
4.3.2 Contours
4.3.3 Graphs and XY Plots
4.3.4 Animation
4.3.5 Particle Tracking – Fluid Analysis

4.4 Combination of Load Cases

Integrated Software

5.1 Specialised and Customised Software

5.2 Integrated Analysis

Package Selection

6.1 The Specification

6.2 Parameters
6.3.1 Accuracy
6.3.2 Speed
6.3.3 Robustness
6.3.4 Ease of Use

6.3 Benchmarks

6.4 NAFEMS Benchmark R0001/B3 – Vessel with Elliptical End
6.4.1 Geometry and Finite Element Mesh
6.4.2 Loading
6.4.3 Editing
6.4.4 Post-processing
6.4.5 Extensions
6.5 NAFEMS Benchmark R0001/A6 – Cube with Holes
6.5.1 The Hierarchical Approach
6.5.2 The Solid Modeller
6.5.3 Extensions


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D. Baguley & D.R. Hose

First Published - 1994

Softback - 51 Pages