Introduction to Optimization in FE Analysis

NAFEMS Webinar Series

Introduction to Optimisation in Finite Element Analysis (FEA)

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Finite Element Analysis has emerged has a tool that can play a vital part in the drive towards the ultimate goal of any manufacturing process; to produce the most effective products in the most efficient manner. This simple statement embraces all of the ‘right first time’, ‘minimum design to test cycles’ and other practices that have evolved.

The introduction of a formal structural optimization strategy into this process has met with great success in many industries. It makes the creation of the most effective product that much more attainable.

Traditionally one might think of the Aerospace Industry as the classic example with the goal of keeping weight to a minimum. Indeed the structural efficiencies of modern aircraft owe a lot to optimization methods. However, it would be wrong to think of this as always a strength and stiffness against weight minimization task. The interaction of Aerodynamics, Aeroelasticity, Structures, Performance, Operating Cost and many other disciplines all have to play a role in the overall vehicle design.

This gives the clue as to the broader nature of structural optimization across all industries. The objective does not need to be weight minimization. It could be, for example driving down the overall vibration amplitude of a hairdryer, whilst keeping away from unpleasant harmonic frequencies. Weight has still to be monitored, and we can place an upper limit on this – but the other factors are more important and will feature directly in the optimization analysis.
Similarly, other disciplines can play a role in structural optimization. In the case of pump housing, we want this to be stiff and strong enough to do the job, with minimum weight. However, the cost of manufacture is important so a parametric penalty function can be introduced which ‘steers’ the weight reduction to a compromise solution which is cheaper to machine.
How do we define the penalty function in the above case? Well, that’s where the ingenuity of the analyst comes in! Knowing how to set up the optimization task and how to obtain innovative solutions with the tools provided is a key to success in FEA Structural Optimization.

The webinar

The webinar looks at some of the challenges facing an engineer when setting out on an FEA analysis and is particularly focused on the newcomer to the field who wants to do the job in an effective and efficient way. Practical guidelines, hints and tips are given based on the presenter’s 34 years in industry, FEA customer support and training.

The webinar is a condensed version of part of an e-learning course which is being presented by Tony Abbey in partnership with NAFEMS throughout the World.


Welcome & Introduction
Brenda Duquette, NAFEMS North America

Introduction to Optimization in FE Analysis
Tony Abbey, FETraining

Q & A Session


Webinar Presenter

Tony Abbey, FETraining

Simulation of Variability in the Hybrid 3 Crash Test Dummy

Tony Abbey has created and taught a wide range of FEA based training classes over the past 15 years. He has developed a reputation for providing the student with an experience that is full of insight gained from his extensive experience, but which also challenges and motivates. Tony has been working with FEA for over 30 years, both in Industry and for FEA software providers in the UK and the US. He currently runs his own FEA consultancy company.

His informal and interactive presentation style allows the key concepts to be taught in a manner which involves participants fully in the course material.

Tony presents papers at NAFEMS and other conferences on a regular basis and has been involved with NAFEMS since its formation.