Finite Element Analysis (FEA) is a computerised method for predicting how products or components are going to perform in real-life situations.
In a nutshell:
- FEA helps predict how products are going to perform
- It’s a computerised process, and is used alongside desktop simulation
- FEA helps find ‘weak spots’ in a design early
- FEA can help architects, contractors and clients get the most from their budgets
- FEA allows façade specialists to test the most cost-effective materials, panel sizes, fixings and sub-structures in all conditions
FEA is an important stage in the design process of architectural façades and solar screening products as it tests how the system will react to forces such as heat, motion, vibration or wind.
By using FEA software and other types of desktop simulation, designers and engineers can reduce the number of physical prototypes and mock-ups, and optimise components in the design phase.
In short, it helps designers find ‘weak spots’ in their design as early as possible in the process – helping them develop better products quicker and more cost-effectively.
Using FEA in façade design
While FEA is used in all areas of manufacturing, it is particularly relevant in construction, where every project is unique and every location different.
Nowhere is this more obvious than in façade design, where one of the most critical ‘real-life situations’ is wind-load – especially on high-rise buildings in exposed locations.
Variables such as elevation, distance from the sea, building height and average wind speeds can all be modelled with specialist FEA software to predict panel movement and wind-load.
Is FEA an expensive luxury?
On the contrary, FEA and desktop simulation can help architects, contractors and clients get the most from their budgets. Façade specialists can test the most cost-effective materials, panel sizes, fixings and sub-structures in all conditions – and potentially achieve the design intent without the need to go ‘bespoke’.
When to conduct FEA?
As soon as possible. FEA helps determine how façades and other solar screening products are going to behave, so it needs to happen early in the product development process.
FEA gives façades specialists the opportunity to influence the initial design in ways that can reduce waste, be more cost-effective, reduce installation time and mitigate the risk of late-stage changes.
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