Design and analysis of engineering components can be categorized under the theory of continuum mechanics, plates/shells or beams. Closed form solutions for determining deformations and stresses are available for simple structures with simple boundary conditions. In the cases of complex structures, boundary conditions and loads, analytical solutions are not readily available. Finite element analysis (FEA) can be performed to resolve the simulation barrier of these analytically indeterminate structures. Similar to analytical approach, FEA can simulate the components through solid, plate/shell or beam elements. Finite element analysis through 3-D solid elements is costly and may require time in weeks, which may not be at the disposal of an analyst. Axi-symmetric components and components with an infinite radius of curvature (flat surfaces), but with complex cross sections can be modeled by 2-D axi-symmetric and plate elements, respectively. Two dimensional finite elements require less time and hardware support than three-dimensional elements. Two development cases of successful application of 2-D finite elements instead of 3-D finite elements are discussed. Experimental and analytical verification of FEA results, and guidelines for checking finite element mesh discretization error are presented.

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