The Finite Element Method

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Finite Element Method

The Finite Element Method is applied for design of a variety of structures such as buildings, ships and airplanes. This method is a numerical procedure for analysis of structures and continua. Usually the problem addressed is too complicated to be solved by classical or analytical methods. Results obtained by FE analysis are rarely exact. However, the resulting errors decrease by processing more equations. Results which are accurate enough for engineering purposes are obtained at a reasonable cost. A finite element model of a structural system is a discretized representation of that system. Some structural systems, such as trusses and frames, are assemblages of inherently discrete pieces. The correspondence between the elements of the model and the physical counterparts is accordingly immediately apparent. Other structural systems, such as beams and plates are continuous systems. These may also be regarded as assemblages of discrete pieces, but the choice of pieces is less obvious and may even be arbitrary. The finite element method provides a tool for analysis of general types of structures. The body to be analysed can have arbitrary shape, loads and support conditions. The mesh can mix elements of different types, shapes and physical properties. User-prepared input data controls the selection of problem type, geometry, boundary conditions, element selection and so on.

The following FEM-aspects are covered here: