Here are 6 steps our Caliber analysts follow to ensure the results we present to our clients as accurate as possible. We hope you find them useful too!
1. Ensure your engineers are experienced enough to run the software
This one is obvious but worth including! As I mentioned, FEA software (especially the CAD embedded type like SolidWorks Simulation) is so easy to operate these days that in 5 minutes anyone can be shown how to generate a convincing looking result. There’s no substitute for experience unfortunately.
2. Make sure your loads and fixtures represent reality
Any FEA work should always start with a free body diagram (a line diagram with arrows representing dimensions, forces and moments). A well defined FBD paves the way for a smooth analysis.
3. Use a detailed checklist to verify the software has been setup correctly.
We use a 3-page checking document that runs the analyst through a series of checks and asks questions like ‘are dimensions and masses correct?’, ‘is the solution mesh independent?’, ‘are the reaction loads correct?’ etc.
4. Have someone peer review your results
Even the most seasoned analyst can make oversights—having someone peer review the results and make their own checks is critical.
5. Use hand calculations and measurements where possible to validate your result
Comparing your FEA results to a simple hand calculation is always recommended. The hand calc may not be as accurate as your FEA result, but if the two results are in a similar ballpark, you can be comfortable the FEA has been set up correctly. If the hand calculation is good enough, then skip the FEA and save yourself some trouble!
6. Make sure the results make sense
Your engineer should be able to predict the deflection shape (and generally the areas of high stress) before running the simulation. Ideally using the hand calculation described above. Developing a prediction before running the analysis is important as it avoids blindly following what the software tells you—it’s all to easy to convince yourself that the results are correct otherwise, trust us!
If you’d like to chat about your current FEA process and how it could be updated, get in touch with our Analysis Manager, Ashley Brittenden—he’s always happy to help!