Does the FEA software you use REALLY matter?
Before I start to explain to you how the FEA system works, let me explain you first why the FEA system is independent of the FEA software you use...
In fact, many companies selling FEA software actually DON'T want you to know that at all, because this knowledge alone can free you from using their specific software... which would be a huge loss of income for them.
But that's the truth... and most experienced FEA engineers know that...
Doing FEA isn't about the software you use... at all
Many FEA software vendors would (almost) KILL to make you think their software IS the magic trick...
Ok, you got me, they probably would never kill for that... but you got the point...
You easily meet this kind of "Software addicted" FEA engineers in companies who can only swear by this or that brand...
In fact, let me tell you... that's a strong indicator that they doesn't really KNOW what they are talking about... and you should stay away from this kind of engineers...
The truth is...that you could very well take an "open-source" free FEA software and get exactly the same results you would get with an expensive commercial package... and even sometimes better!
So...why do all FEA software can achieve exactly the same thing?
(And why the heck everyone tries so hard to hide that for you?)
To understand that, I need to give you some knowledge about what a software actually is and what it does...
Keep reading... it is easier to understand than you may think...even if you have no experience at all in software development.
So...What is a software?
Simple... a software is a package of algorithms which does automatically exactly what you design it to do.
An FEA software is thus composed of several algorithms with one and unique purpose:
Applying the theory of the finite element method to mechanical parts in order to calculate their response to loadings and constraints and generate displacement, stresses (+others) results.
If the FEA can't do that... that's simply not an FEA software.
So every FEA software on the market do actually the exact same thing.
What changes is how the developers behind the software actually designed their algorithms to perform.
Some software will thus be a little faster or will have more modeling functions that others... but now with the time which has already passed since the start of the development of this technology, most of the software are able to do the same kind of things (with some minor variations)
So, if this small gain in modelling speed is what you are about, that's perfectly fine and that's your plain right.
BTW... no software is good everywhere... so even if you gain time somewhere, you easily lose time again somewhere else...
So, I am not telling you that you don't need to learn any FEA software...because ultimately, you will be using one of them in your job...
I am telling you that so you won't limit your growth opportunities by restraining yourself to one unique software only.
Don't be the "XX Software specialist"... instead you should be the "FEA simulation specialist who can use any kind of software"
But How can you become able to use any software?
By understanding the FEA system... that's the name I gave to the general strategy used to perform FEA simulation.
If you understand the FEA system, you will understand how to do FEA simulation with any software.
Okay... now that you understand that...What is really the FEA system?
Cyprien "FEA isn't about the software" Rusu