Machine Design

Test your FEA background

A question on the Genexis quiz asks: A steel beam is loaded by a uniform pressure applied to the top (green) surface. It is supported by two prisms which someone represented in the FEA model as line supports. What is the maximum displacement of the beam? Answer: The displacement is infinite. A line support cannot generate reactions, so the beam will pass through the prisms like a block of butter on two sharp knives. Of course, an FEA solution will report some finite displacement because of discretization error. Adding degrees of freedom to the model increases the displacement value, but it will never converge.

Are your finite-element analysis skills up to date? Genexis Design Inc., a design, training, and consulting firm in Markham, Ont., has placed a 10-item test online to gauge the skill level of FEA users. "In-depth understanding of FEA is critical in successful implementation of this powerful yet often quirky method of design analysis," says Paul Kurowski, an instructor and designer with the company. "The technology's traps, misconceptions, and limitations are seldom addressed in software-specific training commonly provided by software vendors. It takes method-oriented training to turn FEA into a productivity tool rather than a liability," he adds.

Test questions range from simple to difficult. "If users miss more than three, they should consider refresher classes," he adds. Download the test in a 2.6-Mbyte PowerPoint file from (follow links to the test area)

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