7 best tools to run FEM analysis on Windows PCs

Finding the right software for FEM/ FEA is not an easy task. For this reason, in this article, we’re going to list the best tools that you can use to run FEM analysis on PC.

Before we dive in, it is worth mentioning that technically there is absolutely no difference between the terms FEM (Finite Element Method) and FEA (Finite Element Analysis). The term FEM is more popular at universities, while FEA is more popular in industries. FEM or FEA is a numerical method for solving complex problems in mathematical physics and engineering.

The best FEM/FEA software to use on Windows PCs

SimScale

SimScale is a powerful FEM tool that you can use in your browser, without installing any software. All you need to do is upload the model and run the analysis.

The Finite Element Analysis component of SimScale allows you to test and predict the behavior of structures. This tool helps you solve complex structural engineering problems subjected to static and dynamic loading conditions.

The tool supports the following modules:

  1. Static Analysis: Perform structure simulations, including linear static and nonlinear quasi-static analysis. This module is very useful for simulation of heavy machinery, industrial equipment, aircraft structure, pipes, and bridge design.
  2. Dynamic Analysis: Analyze the dynamic response of a structure subjected various loads and displacements to calculate impact loads and structural degradation. This module is very useful for  analyzing automotive, earthquake effects on buildings, and more.
  3. Modal Analysis: Determine the eigenfrequencies and eigenmodes of a structure as a result of free vibration. You can use this module to analyze the peak response of buildings, bridges, or vehicle parts under various frequencies.
  4. Multibody Dynamics and Contact Constraints: Analyze the behavior of structures under large sliding friction and frictionless contact constraints.
  5. Material Models: The solid mechanics tool offers various material models, allowing you to analyze the effects of plasticity, as well as large deformation behavior using hyperelastic material models.

For more information about SimScale, check out the introduction video below:

SimScale has a pay-as-you-go policy. You can try the tool for free. The free account gives you access to 3000 hours of computing time per year.


LS-DYNA

LS-DYNA is a general FEM software that will help you solve complex problems in automobile, aerospace, construction, military, manufacturing, and bioengineering industries.

The tool has various applications, and was even used for the NASA JPL Mars Pathfinder landing simulation to see how the space probe’s airbags would behave. LS-DYNA is one of the most flexible finite element analysis software out there and can basically handle everything you throw at it.

In order to run LS-DYNA, you need a command shell, the executable file of the tool, an input file, and enough free disk space to run the simulation. It is worth mentioning that input file are in the ASCII format.

LS-DYNA can help you with the following analyses: thermal analysis, fluid analysis, failure analysis, crack propagation, electromagnetism, and much more. For more information about the software’s capabilities, go to LSTC’s website.

You can buy LS-DYNA as an annual, paid up, monthly, or site license. For more information, you can contact LSTC’s Sales Department.


Adams

Adams is a valuable tool to simulate real world physics and solve large-scale problems. The tool can help you design your products in an efficient manner in order to optimize performance, safety, and comfort.

You can quickly and easily simulate various situations and see how loads and forces vary in time depending on the motion type and operating environments.

Adams is a multidisciplinary tool, allowing you to blend and analyze data from various fields, including: mechanics, pneumatics, hydraulics, electronics, and control systems technologies. You an them use this data to virtually test your future products.

This multibody dynamics software is perfect for product design and test purposes. If your job involves building cars, heavy machinery or other similar products, then Adams is the perfect choice for you.

For more information and to buy the product, go to MSCSoftware’s page.


Simcenter 3D

Simcenter 3D is an advanced 3D simulation platform that you can use to model, as well as simulate and analyze various systems. The tool can be used in a variety of fields right from the design stage of a product or system. Actually this is one of Simcenter 3D’s main advantages: you can use from the design phase to the testing phase.

You can use Simcenter 3D for the following analysis types: structural analysis, acoustics analysis, composites analysis, thermal analysis, flow simulation, motion analysis, multiphysics, engineering optimization.

If you want to see Simcenter 3D in action, check out the video below:

Simcenter 3D is available as a standalone tool, as well as an integrated software with NX. For more information on purchasing the tool, you can check out Siemens’ official website.


WaveFEA

WaveFEA is a FEM software that uses the Autodesk Nastran Solver to run complex calculations. You can use the tool for a wide variety of tasks, including composites analysis, risk mitigation studies, design comparison, impact analysis, calculate impact results, find the localized damage factor, thermal stresses and expansion, metal forming analysis like rolling and drawing, and much more.

The team that created WaveFEA also published a series of tutorials on how to use the tool for running various analyses, as well as a thorough install guide. This is a very useful feature, making it suitable for beginners. Actually, WaveFEA is the perfect FEM software for users new to FEA, consultants, individual engineers, as well as small companies.

There is also a downside to this software: 32-bit (x86) versions of Windows are not supported.

To request a free WaveFEA trial or to buy the software, go to the tool’s official website.


midasNFX

midasNFX is a powerful software for structural CFD simulation and optimization design tasks. As a user, you have total freedom in building, editing and manipulating FE models.

The tool is also extremely versatile, and can provide in-depth analysis for functions such as contact, nonlinear, dynamic and fatigue
to high-end fluid analysis functions.

If you’re in a hurry and you need to get things done quickly, midasNFX is the right choice for you. The Tool supports fast modelling of simulation models directly into its pre/post graphical interface. Thanks to its multi-core solvers, you’ll get the results in no time.
The software also features a word format auto-report generator and 3D PDF report generator for fast reporting.

Interested in testing midasNFX? You can request a quote on this page.  There is also a supporting rental plan available for small size companies and FEA consultants.


Mecway

Mecway is a useful FEM tool for Windows that focuses on mechanical and thermal simulation. If you’re a beginner and you’re learning to use FEM software, then this is the perfect choice for you. The tool has an intuitive graphical interface that speeds up the learning curve. In addition, it also provides you with instant feedback on errors as you work. In this manner, you can clearly see what you’re not doing right and learn faster.

Mecway also allows you to visualize your models both graphically and in an outline tree. If you want to see Mecway in action, check out the video below:

Other features include:

  • Dynamic, static, thermal, buckling, acoustic, etc.
  • Full nonlinear capability though seamless integration with the included CalculiX solver
  • Wide range of element, load and material types
  • Both manual and automatic meshing tools
  • Up to 1,000,000 nodes in 64 bit mode
  • CAD associativity

It is worth mentioning that Mecway has a 20 year development history. You can buy the tool for $100 for non-commercial use or $350 for commercial use.


Conclusions

In all honesty, there is no best FEM software. It all depends on your needs as a user. Some FEM software specialize in certain fields, which means that they will leave a lot to be desired in other areas.

When choosing a FEM software, the type of analysis required should be your main criterion. Also, check what is the maximum number of nodes that the tool can process. And most importantly, keep in mind that not all software are the same and there is a huge variation when it comes to their problem-solving capabilities.

In this article, we tried to include both specialized FEM software, as well as more general and versatile tools that you can use for a wide range of analyses.

If you’ve used other FEM software that you think we should include on this list, let us know in the comments below.

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