How Does Finite Element Analysis Ensure Quality Aerospace Manufacturing?

In Aerospace

Marlin Steel on February 4, 2020

FEA-shaft-cartAerospace parts must withstand extreme stress from a variety of forces, including air pressure, inertia forces, or impact stresses during takeoffs and landings. Known as loads, these forces and moments can apply extreme stress to an aircraft’s structural integrity. Aerospace parts must be able to continuously withstand these stresses to keep the aircraft intact and their passengers safe

It’s not surprising then that aerospace manufacturing must abide to the strictest of manufacturing requirements. One way that aerospace manufacturers ensure their aircraft parts can stand these tests is through Finite Element Analysis (FEA)-tested custom wire baskets.

What is Finite Element Analysis (FEA)?

Finite Element Analysis (FEA) is a simulation tool that is used to analyze and test components and systems strengths and behavior under environment conditions. In aerospace manufacturing, FEA software is used to predict how aerospace parts will react to structural and thermal loads.

According to the Autodesk website, FEA is “a computerized method for predicting how a product reacts to real-world forces, vibration, heat, fluid flow, and other physical effects.” By using sophisticated simulation technology, like FEA, extra material models are not required for traditional testing, which saves time and money.

What is FEA Used For?

Finite analysis software is used to predict how a product will withstand their environment stresses by simulating the conditions the part will be placed in. These conditions can include real-world forces such as temperature, vibration, points of contact, distribution of weight, quality of welds, and exposure to certain chemicals. These factors can affect the structural integrity of the product. In aerospace manufacturing, there is no room for error. Aerospace parts must be tested thoroughly before being released for distribution. Since FEA tools test multiple elements at once, it makes for a more effective analysis than traditional methods.

While traditional testing would include hours of manual testing on prototypes, FEA analysis can provide data on accurate simulations and saves the time, labor, and materials needed for simulation models.

There are several advantages to using finite analysis software over using physical prototype testing, including:

  • Faster testing speed (minutes or hours instead of weeks or months).
  • Reduced expense because of the ability to test designs without needing materials for a physical prototype.
  • Ability to simulate years or decades of use—increasing test thoroughness.

FEA analysis provides a more accurate and thorough simulation analysis that can predict aerospace product behavior and ensure that the aerospace part is fit to be used in flight.

How Does FEA Work?

fea-shaft-cart2When Marlin Steel conducts an FEA analysis on for a custom aerospace basket, the part being analyzed is programmed into the computer as a 3D design file. This digital object is then broken down into thousands (or hundreds of thousands) of “finite” elements—such as cube shapes.

Marlin Steel uses Autodesk software to run FEA analysis on all of its wire aerospace basket and cart designs.This software then runs these finite elements through a comprehensive series of mathematical equations to simulate the effects different stresses and conditions on each part of the basket. The cumulative effects of these different stresses are tallied up on the computer that's running the software and applied to a simulation of the object as a whole.

By breaking down the 3D object design file into tiny pieces and stress testing each one against different kinds of forces to track how those stresses will affect the product as a whole, finite analysis software can provide an accurate and reliable simulation about how a stainless steel basket will react under stress.

Here are a few reasons why finite element analysis testing helps ensure a better overall design for custom aerospace baskets.

  1. It Keeps Designers from Making Assumptions. One of the most dangerous things an aerospace basket designer can do is make assumptions without checking those assumptions. Stress testing designs helps make sure that the object can actually take the stresses that designers might otherwise assume are fine—and spots issues that designers might fail to anticipate.

  2. It Ensures More Thorough Testing Than Prototype Tests. The ability of virtual testing to simulate years of use provides a more thorough analysis than with a physical prototype. The ability of FEA analysis software to check for years of stress on a custom wire basket in minutes helps to discover issues that only appear after months of use.

  3. It Allows for Faster Design Iteration. Because many custom designs need to be completed on a tight schedule, the delays of physical prototyping may lead to corners being cut—a design might get one or two new iterations to address the obvious issues spotted during the physical prototype tests. Because FEA completes in minutes, it’s possible to go from one or two design iterations to dozens of design iterations in a fraction of the time. This helps to ensure that the final product’s design is as polished as possible.

FEA for Aerospace Manufacturing

With FEA analysis, Marlin’s aerospace basket manufacturing can be as thorough as possible. Customers can rest assured that their custom aerospace wire forms are being manufactured at the highest quality possible. When combined with the durability of stainless steel used in aircraft with the precision of FEA analysis, your custom aerospace baskets will stand the stresses of their environment for years.

This is why Marlin Steel has made the Autodesk software a core part of the custom steel wire products design.

Need a custom wire form for your aerospace manufacturing application? Contact the experts at Marlin Steel to get a quote, or for more information about Marlin’s custom wire form manufacturing process.

Contact Marlin Steel


Author: Marlin Steel
Marlin Steel
Marlin Steel is a leading manufacturer of custom‐engineered products from steel wire and sheet metal. Its industrial material handling containers serve many industries including aerospace, defense, medical and automotive.

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