There has been a proliferation in accessible finite element codes in recent years. This has led to the situation where most engineering undergraduates have had exposure to this important subset of engineering software. This exposure may have taken the form of hands-on experience as part of design or project modules, or even as a more fundamental module in finite element principles. There is a lot of truth behind many old sayings and certainly two spring to mind in this context: A little knowledge is a dangerous thing and Rubbish in equals rubbish out .
a) to impart both the limitations as well as the benefits of FEA and
b) to encourage a thorough review of results before presenting them to others.
Nowhere is this truer than in the field of non-linear analysis. This area, which not so long ago was considered a domain for experts, now has a rapidly expanding user base of engineers and designers who have a commendable, yet sometimes misplaced, desire to model reality more closely. With modern analysis software, it is often possible to obtain solutions to non-linear problems. However, these can easily be inappropriate and skill is required to determine their validity. Care should be taken to specify appropriate model and solution parameters. Understanding the problem, the role played by these parameters and a planned and logical approach will do much to ensure a successful solution is obtained where one exists.
As the title (and size) suggests, this “How-To” book is a practical guide, which is seen as the starting point for undertaking non-linear analyses. It is not a reference book and is primarily targeted at a person who has experience with linear finite element analyses (FEA) and now wants to undertake non-linear analyses. A typical reader could be a recent engineering undergraduate whose degree is likely to include linear finite element analysis or a more experienced stress analyst who has currently only undertaken linear analyses. Such people will be familiar with the concepts of finite element analyses and need to be made aware of how this can be extended to include non-linearity.
Many texts have been written on non-linear FEA. In the main these provide a detailed treatise of non-linear FEA, giving extensive mathematical derivations. The other commonly available sources of information about non-linear FEA are the user manuals of various Finite Element codes. These generally tell you how to undertake a specific non-linear solution, but generally, assume a working knowledge of non-linear FEA. What is missing is a practical guide to non-linear FEA that would enable a user to become familiar enough with the concepts to enable them to carry out meaningful analyses. That defines the role of this booklet, which seeks to present most of the salient aspects of non-linear Finite Element Analysis whilst minimising the mathematical derivations.
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First Published - March 2002
Softback, 90 Pages