Blog and news

Niels Schouten

sr. Industrial Engineer / Director

FEM software vs. calculations by hand

In the world of product design, engineers face the constant challenge of creating innovative, efficient and safe products. A critical step in this process is assessing structural integrity and performance. Various approaches come into play here, with Finite Element Method (FEM) software often embraced as modern technology. However, is it always the best choice? Let's dive into the use of FEM software and discover why there are times when returning to the basics of hand calculations and structural engineering formulas may be a better option.

FEM software: a technological revolution

Finite Element Method (FEM) software has revolutionized the way engineers perform structural analysis. Using advanced computer models, complex structures and loads can be simulated to predict the reactions of materials and components. This has led to more accurate results and improved insight into the behavior of materials under various conditions.

Benefits of FEM Software

  • Overcoming complexity: FEM software can handle complex geometries and materials, making it possible to create realistic models of products.
  • Design optimization: Engineers can fine-tune designs by simulating and optimizing different scenarios to achieve the best performance.
  • Time efficiency: FEM software speeds up the analysis process, which is essential in a rapidly evolving industry.

Back to basics: manual calculations and construction theory formulas

Although FEM software offers undeniable advantages, there are situations where a more traditional approach, based on hand calculations and construction theory formulas, retains its value.

Benefits of calculations by hand

  • Simple problems: For simple geometries and loads, hand calculations can often be as accurate as FEM results, with less complexity.
  • Validation of results: Hand calculations can serve as an excellent means to validate FEM results. They act as a control mechanism to ensure that the computer models produce realistic results.
  • Educational value: Understanding and applying construction theory formulas is invaluable for engineers in training. It provides a deeper understanding of the core principles of structural analysis.
  • Can be deployed early: Through rapid calculations, the feasibility of strength and stiffness can be examined at an early stage. You do not need to 3D-model anything to discover this.

The forget-me-nots of construction theory formulas

When we talk about manual calculations, we often refer to the 'forget-me-nots' of construction theory formulas. These formulas, based on years of experience and practice, form a solid basis for assessing structural performance. They have an intuitive appeal and in some cases can be faster and more practical than using complex software.

Conclusion: a holistic approach

The use of FEM software and hand calculations need not be considered an 'either-or' choice, but rather as complementary to each other. A holistic approach, combining the benefits of modern technology with the essence of engineering formulas, can be the key to successful product design. It must be remembered that in both cases the outcome still has a human factor, all input values are still entered by the designer. It's all about selecting the right tools for the specific challenges an engineer faces.

Vergeet mij niet.

De belangrijkste vergelijkingen in de constructieleer.

Niels Schouten

sr. Industrial Engineer / Director

Excelleer je spreadsheet.

De eerste opdracht van iedere Fabriquer.

Willemijn van Paassen

Technical Designer (Junior)

Ontwerp af. Wat nu?

In gesprek met onze productiepartner Martijn.

Els ter Haar

Industrial Designer / CGI

See more

Please turn your phone sideways, our website looks a lot better that way!