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Non-Linear Finite Element Analysis (FEA) 

5-session e-Learning Course

February 1st - February 15th

 07:00 PST / 10:00 EST / 15:00 GMT / 16:00 CET 

2,5-Week Online Training Course - Two 2.5 hour session/week (except for the last session that will just be one 2,5h/week)

Engineering Board PDH Credits: 12.5 hours*

new content - expanded to FIVE sessions

Note: Although the live sessions take place at these times, is is perfectly acceptable to take the course and follow only the course recordings. Full tutor interaction is available at any time using the online course discussion group.

Please click here to view the FAQ section, or if you need to contact NAFEMS about this course.

Course Overview

Non-Linear Finite Element Analysis e-Learning Course

Many problems facing designers and engineers are nonlinear in nature. The response of a structure cannot be simply assessed using linear assumptions.

Nonlinear behavior can take many forms and can be bewildering to the newcomer. All physical systems in the real world are inherently nonlinear in nature.

One of the most difficult tasks facing an engineer is to decide whether a nonlinear analysis is really needed and if so what degree of nonlinearity should be applied.

Looking at a bolt heavily loaded in an attachment fitting, it may be that the change in stiffness and load distribution path are critical in evaluating peak stress levels. Perhaps the assembly is in an overload condition and we need to check that plastic growth is stable and there is no ultimate failure – bent but not broken!

A flange on a connector arm may be under compressive load, but also sees heavy bending. We need to assess the resistance to buckling with deflection dependent loading paths and possible plastic behavior.

Whatever the nature of the challenge, this objective of this course is to break down the nonlinear problem into clearly defined steps, give an overview of the physics involved and show how to successfully implement practical solutions using Finite Element Analysis.

Course Process and Details 

The course is completely code independent. No software is required.

Each topic in the class is treated as a building block and is presented using an overview of the physics and theory involved. The math is kept simple and the emphasis is on practical examples from real life to illustrate the topic. The mapping to Finite Element analysis techniques is shown with numerous workshops. The tutor will be running analysis interactively and involving the students in the process via Q and A periods during each session, follow up emails and a course bulletin board

Students are shown the various approximation methods and how to judge which are acceptable and appropriate for solving a wide range of practical problems. Practical considerations of types of nonlinearity, solutions available, elements to use and structural details are shown by numerous examples.

Of equal importance is the assessment and interpretation of results. This starts with ensuring a building block linear solution is feasible and accurate. Once this stage is completed then the degree of nonlinear complexity is gradually increased until an effective simulation of the real world event is developed.  A range of hints and tips are shown for a wide range of different nonlinear analysis types.

Interaction is encouraged throughout the course. Students are welcome to send in problems from industry and these will be discussed as time permits.

Full notes are provided for the students, together with personal passwords for e-learning backup material, bulletin board access, etc.

Who Should Attend?

This course is aimed at practicing engineers who wish to learn more about how to apply finite element techniques to nonlinear analysis in the most effective manner. Ideally a student should have some experience of FEA analysis, but this is not essential. The material that is presented is independent of any particular software package, making it ideally suited to current and potential users of all commercial finite element software systems. This course is a must for all engineers aiming to use FEA as a reliable predictive tool for nonlinear analysis.

Course Program

Note: This is a five-week course. Each session represents one 2.5 hour session.(Note: Sessions may last for 2.5-3 hours, including the Q&A sessions.)

Recordings of each session are made available to course attendees in the event they are unable to participate in one or more of the live meetings, or if they wish to review the material following each session.

The times and listed for each session are tentative; we try to schedule these sessions at times convenient for the majority of course attendees.

Session 1

  • Finite Element Analysis Overview
  • Introduction to Nonlinear Analysis
  • Linear Versus Nonlinear Structural Analysis
  • Overview of Types of nonlinearity
    • Geometric
    • Buckling
    • Material
    • Contact
    • Boundary Conditions
    • Follower Forces
  • Theoretical background
  • Strategy for Nonlinear Analysis
  • Guidelines for Nonlinear Static Analysis
  • Homework – simple nonlinear examples

Session 2

  • Homework review
  • Large Displacement or Geometric Nonlinearity
  • Nonlinear buckling behavior and methods
  • Case Studies showing geometric and buckling nonlinear behavior
  • Tips and hints for geometric nonlinearity
  • Contact surface methods
  • Pseudo Linear and Nonlinear contact solutions
  • Case Studies and tips for using contact analysis
  • Homework – geometric nonlinearity and contact examples

Session 3 

  • Homework Review
  • Nonlinear material analysis
  • Types of material nonlinearity – strain and thermal dependency
  • Case Studies using small displacement nonlinear material models
  • Hyperelastic material analysis
  • Mesh Adaptivity and element erosion
  • Case studies with highly nonlinear materials
  • Summary of material nonlinearity with hints and tips
  • Homework – small and large strain material nonlinearity

Session 4

  • Homework Review
  • Effects of boundary condition and follower force nonlinearity
  • Case studies using boundary condition and follower force nonlinearity
  • Review of dynamic analysis methods
  • Non-linear Transient Analysis
  • Implicit versus explicit Finite Element Analysis methods
  • Overview of Impact Analysis

Session 5 

  • Details tbc

*Note: While we will make every attempt to follow the course outline, the schedule may be shifted at some point. However, ample notice will be given prior to the start of the course date with regards to the course schedule.

Special Note(s):

Telephony surcharges may apply for attendees who are located outside of North America, South America and Europe. These surcharges are related to individuals who join the audio portion of the web-meeting by calling in to the provided toll/toll-free teleconferencing lines. We have made a VoIP option available so anyone attending the class can join using a headset (headphones w/ microphone) connected to the computer. There is no associated surcharge to utilize the VoIP option, and is actually encouraged to ensure NAFEMS is able to keep the e-Learning course fees as low as possible. Please send an email to the e-Learning coordinator (e-learning @ ) to determine if these surcharges may apply to your specific case. 

Just as with a live face-to-face training course, each registration only covers one person. If you plan to register a large group (10+), please send an email to e-learning @ in advance for group discounts.

For more information, please email e-learning @ .


Event Type: Course
Location: e-Learning Online
Date: February 1, 2016

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Course Tutor:
Tony Abbey 

Tony Abbey - NAFEMS Tutor

Read Tony Abbey's bio on the NAFEMS tutors page

Session 1 - 
Monday February 1st

Session 2 - 
Tuesday February 2th

Session 3  - 
Monday February 8th

Session 4 - 
Tuesday February 9th

Session 5 - 
Tuesday February 15th

Engineering Board PDH Credits

*It is your individual responsibility to check whether these e-learning courses satisfy the criteria set-out by your state engineering board. NAFEMS does not guarantee that your individual board will accept these courses for PDH credit, but we believe that the courses comply with regulations in most US states (except Florida, North Carolina, Louisiana, and New York, where providors are required to be pre-approved).