Since our inception in 1959, Manor Tool has grown from a small tool and die shop to an industry-leading provider of metal stamping services. We can handle project volumes ranging from single prototypes to high-volume production runs. We manage a variety of stamping operations, including bending, forming, punching, and deep drawn stamping, plus design processes like finite element analysis (FEA).
We understand that the production of high-quality products begins before the production process. We keep talented engineers and inspectors on staff to ensure quality is built into every component from its conception. We follow every part through each step of the manufacturing process, including any outside contractors, to ensure that it will meet and exceed the expectations of our customers. As part of our strict adherence to quality assurance practices, we are ISO 9001:2015-certified and ITAR compliant.
This stringent dedication to quality led us to incorporate Finite Element Analysis (FEA) capabilities into our design processes. This blog post will discuss FEA and related methods and how they apply in manufacturing.
What Is Finite Element Analysis?
The Finite Element Analysis—a numerical method that has become a core element of mechanical engineering and most simulation software programming—gives engineers the tools to simulate application characteristics and see how a design will perform in its intended operating environment. FEA essentially deconstructs a design into thousands of individual nodes, then applies mathematical equations to determine how each node or group of nodes will react to forces such as stress, heat, motion, vibration, and other physical factors.
Until recent years, Finite Element Analysis was traditionally reserved for scientists, PhDs, and specialized engineers in advanced industries due to its complexity. The development of faster computers, advanced software capabilities, and better graphics user interfaces have opened up the FEA process to general manufacturers since FEA no longer requires extensive IT infrastructure to implement during the design phase of a product.
Is Finite Element Simulation the Same as Finite Element Analysis?
FEA is simply the application of the Finite Element Simulation in academia, the term FES is usually preferred. Since manufacturing deals with real-world applications of FEM principles, FEA is more commonly used. While not precisely interchangeable, both terms refer to the same set of concepts.
Finite Element Analysis vs. Computational Fluid Dynamics
Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) combines principles from physics and mathematics to predict how a liquid or gas will move, as well as how the material will impact other components within a system. CFD is commonly applied in aerodynamics to model airflow and predict how it will impact the functionality of air and ground vehicles. It is also used to predict the behavior of fluids within process systems.
While these two processes may seem similar, CFD and FEA are typically used in different predictive modeling scenarios:
- Finite Element Analysis is primarily applied to determine structural problems, electromagnetic issues, and heat transfer concerns. FEA relies on a set of equations determined by the application of principles laid forth in the Finite Element Method.
- Computational Fluid Dynamics provides a similar outcome, but for fluid flow problems. Instead of using FEM, CFD relies on equations determined by the Finite Volume Method (FVM) and the Finite Difference Method (FDM).
It’s worth mentioning that FEA and CFD have some overlap. For certain scenarios, these two methodologies may simply be different roads to the same destination. CFD can be applied to structural problems and FEA can be applied to fluid flows, though the results in each case may be less accurate. As such, the situations mentioned above are how these predictive processes are most commonly applied to ensure the utmost accuracy in advance of physical production.
FEA at Manor Tool & Manufacturing
At Manor Tool & Manufacturing, we’ve been honing our FEA capabilities for more than ten years. FEA gives our designers the capability to look into the future and gauge the viability of designs before we spend time and money creating physical prototypes. Manor has used FEA or simulation of metal forming to determine whether a proposed design will produce parts free of fracturing and / or wrinkling, etc. Every project we have run with FEA has been successful on the first try.
Some of the key benefits offered by our FEA services include:
- Superior design accuracy
- Better design insight
- Virtual prototyping
- Fewer physical prototypes
- Shorter design cycle
- Reduced design cycle costs
- Higher productivity
- Improved ROI