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Fatigue & Fracture Mechanics in Finite Element Analysis (FEA)

NAFEMS e-Learning Course


Four -Week e-learning Course - (one 2.5 hour session per week)

Course Overview

Fatigue failure occurs when a material is subjected to repeated loading and unloading cycles. The level of stresses present to cause failure may be well below values considered safe for a single static load application. The critical fatigue initiation is usually at a very localized site and may be a result of additional factors such as stress concentration due to component shape, surface finish or corrosion pitting.

Fatigue has been cited as one of the major causes of in-service failure throughout engineering history. The earliest application of rotating machinery with its attendant cyclic nature produced documented fatigue failures. Textile loom machinery, pumping machinery and above all steam railway operations were beset by a mode of failure that was not understood. The early railway axle failures and mining equipment failures prompted fundamental testing and research. The theories on which much of modern fatigue analysis is based on were developed all through the industrial revolution and into the 1920’s.

The advent of more complex structures with more complex loading histories was typified by the introduction of the first jet powered airliners. Sadly new fatigue lessons had to be learned in the period from 1954 as a result of the DH Comet crashes.

The nature and prediction of fatigue is much more understood, and is a requirement for most design products today. However the application of fatigue analysis is not easy and a good background is essential to be able to use the powerful FEA method as a basis for fatigue analysis.

Much of the terminology used in setting up the fatigue problem through a modern GUI is confusing and the choice of options is not always clear.

The objective of this course is to break down the fatigue analysis process 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 

In the current climate travel and training budgets are tight. To help you still meet your training needs the following e-learning course has been developed to complement the live class. The e-learning course runs over a three week period with a single two hour session per week.

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 showing analysis results 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 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.

Students will join the audio portion of the meetings by utilizing the VoIP (i.e. headset connected to the computer via headphone and microphone jacks) or by calling into a standard toll line. If you are interested in additional pricing to call-in using a toll-free line, please send an email to: e-learning @ .

Who Should Attend?

This course is aimed at practicing engineers who wish to learn more about how to apply finite element techniques to fatigue 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 fatigue analysis.

E-learning classes are ideal for companies with a group of engineers requiring training. E-learning classes can be provided to suit your needs and timescale. Contact us to discuss your requirements.

Course Program

Note: This is a four-week course. Each session represents one 2-hour session each week. (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 dates 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 Fatigue analysis

High Cycle Fatigue method

  • S-N Curveo Definition and Usage
    • Endurance Limit
    •  Data Sources
  • Mean Stress Effects
  • Fatigue Correction Factors
  • Loading Environment

Low Cycle Fatigue methods – overview

  • Strain Life
  • True Stress and Strain
  • Cyclic Stress Strain history

FEA application of Fatigue Analysis

Workshops and homework

Session 2: 

Homework Review

Notch Effects in High Cycle Fatigue

Low cycle fatigue

  • Notch Effects
  • Neuber Method
  • Peterson Method
  • Stress Gradient Method
  • Worked example
  • True stress strain definitions
  • Mean Stress Effects

Loading History definition

  • Cycle Counting Methods

More FEA implications

  • Surface Stresses
  • Stress Concentration Idealization

Workshops and homework

Session 3: 

Homework Review

Multiaxial Fatigue

  • Proportional Loading
  • Non-Proportional Loading
  • Solution Methods
  • Checking Methods

Vibration fatigue

  • Review of Random Vibration Analysis
  • Apparent Frequency and RMS values
  • Stress components
  • Von Mises results – caution
  • Damage calculation methods


Session 4: 

Homework Review

Introduction to Fracture Mechanics methods

  • Fracture mechanics
  • Crack Loading Modes
  • Stress Intensity Factor
  • FEA Implementation Methods
  • Virtual Crack Closure Method
  • Crack growth and re-meshing

Fatigue in Composites

  • Overview of Fatigue in Composites
  • Micro-mechanical behaviour
  • Fatigue Prediction
  • Practical Applications



*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 (5+), please send an email to e-learning @ in advance for group discounts.  

For more information, please email e-learning @ .

NAFEMS e-learning course

Upcoming Sessions:

    Course Tutor:
    Tony Abbey 

    Tony Abbey - NAFEMS Tutor

    Read Tony Abbey's bio on the NAFEMS tutors page