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Industrial Requirements and Practices in Finite Element Meshing: A Survey of Trends

Halpern, Marc

Proceedings, 6th International Meshing Roundtable, Sandia National Laboratories, pp.399-411, October 1997


Marc Halpern, PE, PhD
Director of Research; Engineering, Manufacturing, and Design
D. H. Brown Associates
222 Grace Church Street
Port chester, NY 10573 Phone/ 914-9374302 ext. 231 FAX/914-937 2485

Between 1991 and 1996, major corporations in North America have reduced the median time requirements by 27% to prepare finite element models. The median time to complete a full analysis, including convergence studies, has been reduced by 48%. These significant reductions in model preparation time can be attributed to advances in automatic meshing, continuously improving integration of CAD with FEA, and the impact of adaptivity and error control. Additionally, there has been a significant increase in the use of three-dimensional finite element analysis over the same time period.

These findings derive from a comparison of surveys conducted by D. H. Brown Associates in 1996' and 1991.2 The most recent survey involved 106 corporations involved in automotive, aerospace, heavy equipment, electronics, and consumer products development. The respondents included FEA experts (42%), design engineers (29%), and technical managers (22%). The remaining 7% included manufacturing specialists and CAD design professionals.

Although this progress, discussed in greater detail below, has been impressive, it does not yet match the requirements of the early design practice. For example, median time to perform finite element analysis to verify a design is 4 days and the average time is 7 days. Designers make changes to their products at a faster pace. Companies report that the expertise required to create acceptable finite element models and to verify results remains high. Also, they do not have enough in-house expertise to support their FEA needs. Therefore, pressure on the research community and commercial developers to sustain a rapid pace of innovation continues. Technical management defined reliable automation of finite element meshing as a long term goal that would facilitate analysis supporting robust design methodologies.

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