Finite Element Analysis or FEA is computational tool used to assess components for their strength and stiffness. FEA can be carried out on high performance PCs. FEA takes its name from the approach to solving complex structures ~ the component is broken down in to a finite number of smaller components (or elements). These smaller elements taken much simpler shapes (such as 2D squares and triangles or 3D cubes or pyramids. It is much simpler to establish these strength and stiffness of these elements. The software is then able to piece together the results of all the elements to give an overall understanding of the complete structure strength and stiffness. Lola has used FEA in the following applications:
- Race car composite chassis where low weight and high strength is imperative.
- Design of wind tunnel fan blade assemblies where strength and stiffness are important.
- Analysis of metallic components for motorsport and aerospace applications.
- Prediction of thermal expansion and stresses in composite tooling.
- Design of radar and communication structures.
Lola makes extensive use of FEA in the design of all its products. Lola uses the Altair Hyperworks suit of software in partnership with Anaglyph Laminate Tools for composite draping and post processing. Lola prides itself on being in the position to design, analyse, tool, and manufacture a product all on one site here in Huntingdon. FEA is utilised at every stage from design of the part, checking the tool and utilising net-shape plies from the FEA when creating the kit for manufacture. At Lola we understand the issues associated with composite manufacture and we are able to account for these issues during the design and analysis.
1. Is it any good?
Yes! FEA is a fantastic tool which can help engineers refine and develop
a structure in a very short period of time however it is only a tool. Good
engineering judgment is always a key ingredient when building an FE
model and interpreting the results.
2. Does FEA replace testing?
No. FEA is a fantastic tool for designing an efficient structure but if you
are working to very low reserve margins then validation testing is always
recommended. All FEA models have areas of compromises or use
assumptions which can only be truly understood through testing.
3. How can Lola Cars International Ltd use FEA to help you?
Lola can use FEA to improve performance, reduce cost and speed up
manufacture of both composite and metallic structures.
4. How much does it cost?
The cost of FEA has reduced significantly in recent years thanks to the
improvement in computing power and the development of user friendly
software. To find out more please get in contact with Lola where we will
be happy to discuss your project and how we can utilise FEA to enhance