Getting started with CAE software for FEA

Creating, better, safer and more ambitious designs requires simulation and analysis tools that help you  reduce physical prototypes, iterate more quickly and ensure the stability of designs. Having the skills to perform Finite Element Analysis (FEA) offers huge opportunities to both seasoned engineers and career entrants. The ability to perform FE analysis and use CAE software to optimise designs based on the results of that analysis is an essential skill in today’s competitive and dynamic engineering landscape.

Are you a beginner learning the principles or a seasoned expert applying advanced simulations? Either way, it can be tough to apply what you know in an entirely new software environment. Luckily, as Computer-Aided Engineering (CAE) software democratises FEA it’s possible to simulate and analyse designs in a user-friendly interface that can considerably speed up the time it takes to master new FEA tools.

Is CAE software for FEA difficult to learn?

FEA can be intimidating when you’re just starting. Many users struggle with CAE software initially because they don’t understand the underlying mathematics of the Finite Element Model (FEM) or they don’t know how to prepare models for analysis. Even the best CAE software for FEA won’t give you useful results if you don’t know how to define loads or set boundary conditions. What it can do for you is help you analyse complex systems or multiple physics with both linear and nonlinear properties in a way that simply isn’t possible with hand calculations, much faster than any human.

FEA usually moves through three distinct workflows—a pre-processer, a solver, and a post-processer. Many people consider CAE software for FEA difficult to learn because the process of moving through each workflow can be complex, and not all pre- and post-processors are intuitive or easy to use.

Saving time and effort with CAE software

There are many steps necessary to prepare models in the pre-processer and a difficult-to-navigate user interface can make this process tedious and time-consuming. CAD models don’t generally provide a solver-ready mesh, and efficiently preparing models for analysis requires either high levels of expertise or sophisticated tools. Having the capability to directly modify your models in pre-processing, validate them before analysis and make generative changes as you iterate on designs can save hundreds of hours and reduce the number of physical prototypes you need.

The performance of your solver can also make a big difference in how quickly you can move from importing a model to seeing the results of your analysis in the post-processor. Solvers like MSC Nastran are standard in many industries because they are efficient, accurate, and used by almost a million engineers. High-performance solvers perform calculations more quickly and potentially save dozens of hours in downtime.

Another way to save time is by choosing CAE software that integrates a pre-processor, a high-performance solver and a post-processor all in one environment. This makes it easier to run incremental checks with the solver and prevents you from having to move back and forth between different software to work on a single design.

Where can I start developing my FEA skills?

MSC Apex, paired with MSC Nastran is the best way to build FEA skills quickly. MSC Apex combines a user-friendly pre- and post-processor with the industry standard MSC Nastran solver. You can directly simplify and adjust your models in the software and iterate easily by running MSC Nastran checks on individual parts and assemblies to validate that your models are ready for the FEM solver.


Try MSC Apex with MSC Nastran for free

The trial edition of MSC Apex seamlessly integrates with MSC Nastran, streamlining the process of model creation, analysis setup, and execution—all within a unified interface. You can try it for free and see for yourself why industries rely on CAE software like MSC Apex and trusted solvers like MSC Nastran for FEA.

  • Explore the full potential of MSC Apex free for 30 days
  • Take advantage of comprehensive support for MSC Nastran
  • No prior licenses required – try MSC Apex without signing up for MSCOne

Need More FEA training?

You can learn to use MSC Apex with user-friendly training from our partner Evotech. Make the most of your free trial of MSC Apex and MSC Nastran by combining it with a full FEA course. Learn linear or nonlinear finite element analysis using MSC Apex and embedded MSC Nastran solvers.

The tools at your disposal can affect the safety and durability of physical parts, and it’s important to have software that you can trust to give you reliable results. Dive into the world of CAE and witness first-hand how it can help you iterate faster, reduce or eliminate the costs of physical testing, and optimise your designs based on reliable, accurate analysis.

FREE software trial MSC Apex and MSC Nastran


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