Finite element analysis (FEA) is an increasingly powerful computational technique in which the geometry of even a very complex body is represented by a mesh comprising a large number of discrete regions called finite elements. The elements are linked to each other at discrete points called nodes and different geometry elements (with varying numbers of nodes) can be selected for different types of problems. The use of FEA extends well beyond simple deformation since the approach can handle static and dynamic loading (with time-dependent changes in loads), two or three dimensional objects and different types of loading, e.g. thermal, electromagnetic as well as mechanical forces. Many commercial packages are now available.
The animation below depicts a finite-element simulation for the production of gudgeon pins. These are pins which hold a piston rod and a connecting rod together. The process consists of 4 stages :
- Backward Extrusion
- Punching – The base of the cup is punched out producing the gudgeon pin.
The simulation accounts for steps 1 to 3.