MultiMechanics Blog

A Brief History of Finite Element Analysis - Part II

Posted by MultiMechanics on Dec 16, 2014 11:41:00 PM

As was mentioned in Part I, the history of Finite Element Analysis is deeply intertwined with the evolution of computing. It seems only fitting that the FEA software used to design the world's most cutting-edge products should have the most cutting edged computational techniques at its disposal.  

From the early punched days of the 60's through the 2000's,FEA companies have found unique ways to take advantage of the ever changing computer landscape. 

GUIs  - "1984 won't be like 1984:

1984 - The Apple "Lisa" was released. Named after Steve Job's daughter, the computer would be a commercial flop, but would pave the way for the Graphical User Interface and the industry changing, Macintosh. 

1985 - The same year that Microsoft unveiled the Windows OS, AutoCAD 2 was released. It was designed to run on "microcomputers", including two of the new 16-bit systems, the Victor 9000 and the IBM Personal Computer (PC). This version consisted of over 100,000 line of C code and had a list price of $2,000.

1985 - Altair Engineering was founded in a garage in Detroit, MI. Their first product was HyperMesh, followed by the award-winning FE based topology optimization tool, OptiStruct.  A product they would later buy, the RADIOSS Finite Element solver, required 20 hours to solve a 20 K element crash simulation in 1987. If you fast forward to 2013, RADIOSS is able to parallelize a 15 million element crash simulation to 128 cores and see results in 5 hours. That represents a nearly 4000% increase in computational power. Most of this gain, however, can be accredited to the doubling of computational speed every 18 months.

1991 - NEi Software was founded as Noran Engineering, Inc.  Their product, NEi Nastran was a spinoff of the original MSC - NASA codebase, but with a GUI and improved performance. 

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Topics: Finite Element Analysis

A Brief History of Finite Element Analysis - Part I

Posted by MultiMechanics on Dec 8, 2014 12:09:00 PM

The first patent for computer software was filed in 1968 by Applied Data Research for a number sorting system. That same year, MSC in partnership with NASA released the first version of their now famous “NASA Structural Analysis” software (NASTRAN). It’s very humbling to think that alongside the inventions of commercial computing, were the sprouts of today’s $6 billion Simulation and Analysis industry.

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Topics: Finite Element Analysis, Multiscale

Composite Analysis - Sweating the Small Stuff

Posted by MultiMechanics on Nov 24, 2014 2:38:00 PM


The ability to tailor the composition of a material to obtain desired overall properties is a very appealing prospect. Engineers are able to create you own materials to fit your specific need!  However, with the advent of these novel materials, engineers are also inventing new ways for those materials to behave and fail. As a result, these engineers will need new ways to predict that behavior, beyond the traditional means used to analyze century-old isotropic materials.

One can at times feel like Leonardo DaVinci, creating a form-fits-function masterpiece - and at other times like Dr. Frankenstein, creating an unpredictable monster. It is a double-edged sword, and a topic that has been discussed and researched for several decades.

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Topics: Finite Element Analysis, Multiscale, Composite Analysis, Virtual Testing