Finite element analysis (FEA) is a computerised method for predicting how a product reacts to real-world forces, vibration, heat, fluid flow and other physical effects. Finite element analysis shows whether a product will break, wear out or work the way it was designed. It is called analysis, but in the product development process, it is used to predict what's going to happen when the product is used.
FEA works by breaking down a real object into a large number (thousands to hundreds of thousands) of finite elements, such as little cubes. Mathematical equations help predict the behaviour of each element. A computer then adds up all the individual behaviours to predict the behaviour of the actual object.
Finite element analysis helps predict the behaviour of products affected by many physical effects, including:
- Mechanical stress
- Mechanical vibration
- Heat transfer
- Fluid flow
- Plastic injection moulding