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Structural FEA Software

Structural FEA Software

Structural FEA Software

Although I have quite a bit of education and background in FEA, the company I work for operates primarily through hand calculations. Recently, my boss has requested that I research and recommend an FEA software that would be a useful tool on our projects. Do you all have any recommendations? I am really just looking for some of the favorites out there to give me a starting place in my research. We do a lot of work with custom shapes (not standard structural shapes from the steel manual) and odd materials (aluminum and glass) so software that can accommodate these items would be most valuable.

Thanks for any insight!

RE: Structural FEA Software

Although I am not familiar with this program, Abaqus seems to be pretty popular and well known. That could be something to look into.

RE: Structural FEA Software


I use it for everything which required FEA--mat footings, walls, plates, and anything else where a simple, linear analysis won't do.


RE: Structural FEA Software

Thanks for the input - I'll be looking into these.

Does anyone out there use Bentley RAM Elements? Any thoughts or comparisons with the others?

RE: Structural FEA Software

Bentley seems to not be developing RAM Elements any more. They're releasing STAAD (X) in a couple of months and it supposedly will replace RAM Elements. Maybe wait for that.

RE: Structural FEA Software

RISA and STAAD are good for linear, elastic analyses. If you expect to encounter any work that involves some degree of nonlinearity such as cable analyses, compression-only or tension-only members, sequential analysis, etc then you'll probably want something more robust like SAP2000 or GTStrudl.

RE: Structural FEA Software

RISA 3D does have the capability to model tension only/compression only members and boundary conditions.


RE: Structural FEA Software

Thanks for all of the input!

Dave, will RISA 3D check custom sections? For instance, could one draw a custom bent steel section in AutoCAD and then import it into RISA 3D to have it checked for strength (yielding, lateral torsional buckling, flange buckling, etc.)?

RE: Structural FEA Software

Depends on what you need. Simple stuff (linear elastic) like slabs and walls, I'd use RISA or STAAD.

If you need something like mechanical parts, complex geometry, or high end results (like non-linear FEA) I'd look at Solidworks with Simulation.

Professional and Structural Engineer (ME, NH)
American Concrete Industries

RE: Structural FEA Software

Gumpmaster, you're just not going to give up on STAAD(X) are you? I searched the internet for STAAD(X) and found a post from you in 2010 asking when the next release was going to be. Now they are promising it 2Q 2016! When asked, Bentley will tell you these early versions were just beta releases or technical previews or whatever but the "real thing" has never been released. I first saw it late in 2008. I've totally lost interest in it. Bentley's refusal to give us the straight story on why it is taking so long has left me cold.

Sorry, not trying to hijack this thread but every time I see STAAD(X) mentioned I just have to say something. To make amends, here's some names for you muchtolearn. Robot Structural Analysis Professional, MIDAS/Gen, S-Frame, VisualAnalysis, ETABS, and SCIA Engineer.

RE: Structural FEA Software

Quote (DaveAtkins)

RISA 3D does have the capability to model tension only/compression only members and boundary conditions.

You are correct that RISA 3D has that capability, but this statement by JoshPlum suggests that its a pseudo-approach and doesn't consider the non-linearity within the stiffness matrix.

"Remember that RISA is not doing a true non-linear solution for those tension only members. Rather it is iterating a linear solution."
Tension-only members in RISA 3D

I've heard good things about S-Frame; its one of the few structural-oriented software out there that does true nonlinear cable analyses other than GTStrudl and SAP2000.

RE: Structural FEA Software

Yeah, I guess I'm just overly hopeful for overly long. It's the Duke Nukem of the structural engineering world. I've been talking with the Bentley developers on it since 2012 and they've amazingly been working steadily on it that whole time. I get an email every couple of months on it. We'll see on the release date this time bigsmile. You're right on the don't get your hopes up, but you cant hold down the eternal optimist.

RAM Elements is definately going to nowheresville.

RE: Structural FEA Software

RISA, as well as several of the other companies have shape building modules that you can use to make odd shaped cross sections and then import them into the analysis programs. Typically they are an add on module that you need to purchase above and beyond the basic package. I believe that you can download a trial version of the analysis program RISA-3D and the shape building module.

RE: Structural FEA Software

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