March 24, 2015, by Alfonso Garcia

Open Source for FEA…

One of the subjects I didn’t learn at school when I was an undergraduate student was “Computerised FEA”. Fortunately, when I got a job in a Materials Handling Manufacturing company I had the opportunity to learn ABAQUS. We basically used the software to avoid the ‘insane’ prototyping costs. I have to admit that the FEA ideology was completely arcane to me those days and I had to learn from scratch. It was a bit difficult because the pace was too quick for me and I was only able to access the software during the course hours.

Until then, I hadn’t realised how important (and well paid) FEA is in industry. There has been a massive introduction of FEA solutions for the automotive industry in Mexico during the last decade. However, 10 years ago ABAQUS or ANSYS were not quite popular nor available at the University and people had to pay for expensive training or wait until the courses were available at his workplace. In addition, only the big companies could afford the expensive software.

Now, things have changed and the infamous ‘open source fashion’ has reached the FEA world. There are currently software resources for FEA Simulation, free to download from the web. Therefore, any person can take advantage of the situation and develop really valuable skills for a future job, free of charge.

Put the case of OpeaFOAM ( Most of the PhD students I’ve met during my 2 years of study at The University of Nottingham have asked me about CFD applications. Some of them need very specific and advanced applications and the rest want to learn from scratch. Most of them think about ANSYS, because it has become popular in CFD application within the University. Well, I reckon all of them should take a look at OpenFOAM first, because ANSYS is not available to all the Engineering Community as ABAQUS is. Perhaps OpenFOAM is not as gorgeous as ANSYS, but it’s worth a try. A colleague recommended this one to me, so I think it is a safe approach.

The first 2 decent entries after looking for open source FEA on the web were:


Although they look really basic and ‘empiric’ they are really good for a first step into the FEA world. I will try my own models in these programs and I’ll write a review for you, available in my next post…