Machine Design

FEA toolkit simplifies complex analysis

Most companies make similar products in many variations. To make complex analyses of frequently encountered components easier for occasional users, Abaqus Version 6.4 now includes a GUI toolkit that lets experienced analysts set up parametric models and hide or add just the right menus.

Engineers with Honda used the GUI toolkit and Abaqus V6.4 to design improvements into a continuously variable transmission. In this case, a designer wants to test an alternative-link design in a CVT chain. Users enter parameters -- dimensions in this case -- into the dialog box on the left and the system creates and runs an analysis that predicts operating characteristics, such as durability.

By limiting menu selection, designers can quickly complete sophisticated analyses that include nonlinear materials and contact.

Rather than building a proprietary toolkit, developer Abaqus Inc., Pawtucket, R.I. (, licensed the open-sourced FOX Toolkit ( "It has a full set of professional features for making dialog boxes and an easy-to-use scripting language," says Ken Short, a vice president with Abaqus. In addition, a Process Automation Portal in V6.4 gives users a sort of self-help forum for GUI customization. The portal lets users upload, download, and share scripts and software ideas.

Short says the toolkit also helps companies capture preferred FEA workflows such as where and how to apply boundary conditions and loads. "Automating FEA makes better use of analysis knowledge throughout product development," he adds. " With a focused FEA program, user can slash hours off repetitive tasks."

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