Finite Element Analysis (FEA) provides a reliable numerical technique for analyzing engineering designs. The process starts with the creation of a geometric model. Then, the program subdivides the model into small pieces of simple shapes (elements) connected at common points (nodes). Finite element analysis programs look at the model as a network of discrete interconnected elements.

The Finite Element Method (FEM) predicts the behavior of the model by combining the information obtained from all elements making up the model.

Meshing is a very crucial step in design analysis. The automatic mesher in the software generates a mesh based on a global element size, tolerance, and local mesh control specifications. Mesh control lets you specify different sizes of elements for components, faces, edges, and vertices.

The software estimates a global element size for the model taking into consideration its volume, surface area, and other geometric details. The size of the generated mesh (number of nodes and elements) depends on the geometry and dimensions of the model, element size, mesh tolerance, mesh control, and contact specifications. In the early stages of design analysis where approximate results may suffice, you can specify a larger element size for a faster solution. For a more accurate solution, a smaller element size may be required.

Meshing generates 3D tetrahedral solid elements, 2D triangular shell elements, and 1D beam elements. A mesh consists of one type of elements unless the mixed mesh type is specified. Solid elements are naturally suitable for bulky models. Shell elements are naturally suitable for modeling thin parts (sheet metals), and beams and trusses are suitable for modeling structural members.