What is Finite Element Analysis of Rubber Components

In today's post, we will be discussing the details of what Finite Element Analysis is, as well as the benefits of using this technique. We’ll also look at how FEA benefits companies, including how we incorporate this method with our products here at AV Industrial Products Ltd.

What is Finite Element Analysis?

Finite Element Analysis, also known as FEA, is a computational technique used to analyse the behaviour of structures and materials under various conditions. This is important as it predicts the stress/strain applied to materials to ensure they are within acceptable limits. In the context of rubber components, FEA is employed to simulate and understand how rubber parts deform, respond to different loads, and interact with their surrounding environment and other outdoor elements, such as calculating the stiffness of an anti-vibration mounting, identifying areas of high stress, and also predicting resonant frequencies of a product.

How FEA Works:

For finite element analysis to work successfully, users will need to break down a complex system or structure into smaller, more manageable elements.

As a general rule of thumb, the more elements there are in a component, the finer the mesh (elements containing nodes that represent the shape of the geometry) and the more accurate the model and results will be. Too many elements however, will result in time-consuming (and therefore costly) computer processing with little improvement to accuracy.

By utilising complex mathematical equations, it is possible to accurately predict how the tested product will react to different simultaneous inputs. Thanks to advances in computer software, these calculations can be carried out using this method accurately and quickly.

Non-Linear FEA Analysis of Rubber Components

Modelling of Rubber components presents additional challenges due to the non-linear behaviour of rubber materials. Finite Element Analysis (FEA) is pivotal in decoding this complexity, however specialist software, capable of Non-Linear modelling, is required. AV Industrial Products Ltd operates a number of industry specific software packages capable of modelling rubber components.

Non-Linear FEA accurately models rubber's Non-Linear elasticity, crucial for predicting large deformations under varying loads. It also addresses viscoelastic effects, such as hysteresis and stress relaxation, essential for understanding fatigue and durability in dynamic applications.

By leveraging Non-Linear FEA, our engineers can refine designs, optimise geometries, materials, and manufacturing processes to meet specific performance criteria efficiently.

What Are The Advantages of FEA for Rubber Components?

Firstly, it is important to note that rubber components such as seals, bushings, and anti vibration mounts undergo complex deformation behaviours due to their Non-Linear nature. FEA allows engineers to model these behaviours mathematically, enabling for accurate predictions of factors like stress distribution/intensity, strain, deformation, and fatigue life.

- Cost and time savings

Conducting physical tests on rubber components can be time-consuming and expensive, particularly where a new product is being developed which would require moulds to be manufactured before testing can be conducted. FEA allows engineers to explore a wide range of design variations and operating conditions in a virtual environment, reducing the need for costly prototyping and testing. By leveraging FEA early in the design process, engineers can identify design flaws and optimise performance ultimately saving time and resources.

- Accurate results

Finite Element Analysis (FEA) provides accurate results through a combination of mathematical modelling, numerical methods, and careful consideration of various factors. Important inout factors to consider when conducting FEA analysis can include:

  • Mesh Density

  • Element Type

  • Material Modelling

  • Boundary Conditions

  • Verification and Validation

  • Sensitivity Analysis

  • Error Estimation

How AV Industrial Uses Finite Element Analysis:

At AV Industrial, Finite Element Analysis (FEA) plays a pivotal role in our design and engineering department. We employ industry specific software capable of accurately simulating the behaviour of polymer based materials in our products across various conditions, particularly focusing on non-linear aspects of rubber behaviour.

The software ensures precise modelling of our design concepts by subjecting them to a range of load scenarios and frequencies, simulating the intended application in which the product will be installed. Through this process, we can ensure that our products meet customer specifications while maintaining durability and longevity.

While we offer a wide array of existing products, our utilisation of FEA allows us to provide tailored solutions that precisely align with our customers' unique requirements. Whether you seek bespoke rubber components or need assistance in selecting the ideal product, do not hesitate to contact our engineering team at engineering@avindustrialproducts.co.uk