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A Few Notes on Finite Element Method (FEM)

1) Experiment (Actual), Simulation (Approximate) and Validation (Error or, Difference between Actual and Simulation) 2) Definition of Simulation : A Physical problem or, Field Problem is first converted to Mathematical Problem - it is called Modeling, then the mathematical model (Governing Eq. along with Boundary Conditions) are solved numerically to get an approximate solution (very nearer to the exact solution could have been found by the analytical method) it is called Analysis. 3) In the same way, Finite Element Simulation contains (i) Finite Element Modeling Defining the physical problem in terms of Governing Eq. and Boundary Conditions, and (ii) Finite Element Analysis (sometimes, Finite Element Method) Solving the Governing Eq. and Finding approximate solutions with the help of Boundary Conditions provided.

Finite Element Method (FEM)


1) Finite Element Modeling needs to define the Geometry of a structure 2) Some inherent properties of the structure (such as, Material Property, Thermal Property, Electrical Property, etc.) should be given, from where, one will be able to construct the Property Matrix (sometimes called Stiffness Matrix [K]) 3) It is called Finite Element Method because it assumes the geometry of the structure is made up of several pieces of elements connected together at nodes as if nodes were pins or drops of glue that hold elements together.

4) Mashing is the process of dividing a structure into finite elements. Its a complicated and brainstorming process. Mashing consists of choosing of element type, which facilitate a particular set of DOFs and Shape Functions. The approximation of result will be more realistic and accurate if the right element is chosen.

5) Governing Equations in the form of PDE/ODE/IE (an example with 1D spring element). Generally together with the stiffness properties and with loading conditions provided it is easy to construct a governing eq. for the particular problem.

6) Now once we have the governing eq. we can go for Finite Element Analysis, i.e. solution of the eq. there are several methods for solving these governing eq. like A. Weighted Residual Methods i. Interior Residual Methods 1. Collocation Method 2. Galerkins Method 3. Finite Element Method ii. Boundary Residual Method 1. Boundary Element Method B. Stationary Functional Methods i. Reyligh-Ritz method ii. Finite Element method 7) These solutions of the governing differential equations will be subjected to boundary conditions, which are usually of two types : (i) the Essential Boundary Conditions - which are sufficient for solving the differential equations completely, and (ii) the Natural Boundary Conditions - involves higher order derivative terms and are not sufficient for solving the differential equation completely, requires at least one essential boundary condition.

In the figure above at fixed end there an essential boundary condition is given as u=0 Putting those BCs into the solution eq. one will be able to find out the approximate solution at the nodes. That is, values of variables such as displacement, velocity, etc. at the nodes. 8) To find the solution at any of the internal points between two nodes a function is used to interpolate, called Interpolation Function or, Shape Function. The complicacy (linear, polynomial, quadratic, etc.) of shape function eq. makes different element types along with their basic geometry.