Achieving Sustainability Goals Using Finite Element Analysis
Posted by Bhaumik Dave on September 12th, 2014
Design for sustainability, is the priority for most modern day organizations. Hence applying FEA capabilities to achieve sustainability goals has become popular. However, in order to conduct finite element analysis and design for higher sustainability, it is essential to define sustainability goals.
The term ‘Sustainability Solutions’ refers to solutions that are devised to make a design able to perform the best within the most frugal and minimal resources that are available.
There are many ways in which finite element simulations and analysis can help achieve sustainability. The most apparent and popular way computational methods contribute towards these goals is by reducing the use of materials, and improving the manufacturability of a product. This frugal approach towards product design is known as light weighting.
Prudent Use of Material – Light weighting:
When a product is designed using the minimum material required it has a positive impact on the environment. How?
The effect cascades down from a little material saved in one product, to the large amount of material saved for manufacturing the entire batch, this in-turn means that less material is extracted from the natural reserves and hence less waste is generated. As a result, less is sent for recycling and less waste material goes to landfills. Besides, this also means that you value and are prudently utilizing all the energy that goes into mining and material processing.
However, light weighting does not mean reducing material from anywhere in the product. The performance of the product, its commercial viability and durability should not suffer in the process. This is where FEA comes into the picture. Using finite element methods, it is possible to study fatigue and thermal stresses that are otherwise difficult to determine.
Besides, areas in a product that experience low stress and deflections are detected. Now, material reduction from these areas – up to a certain valid extent, does not have any negative impact on the performance and functionality of this product.
FEA engineers ensure that after light weighting, the product can still endure the forces and stresses that it is likely to encounter anytime during its life cycle.
Despite the light weighting your product remains durable and does not succumb to high stresses and deflections. Hence, the effective lifetime of a product increases, and this reduces the environmental impact that would occur if the product has a shorter lifespan i.e. the product goes into recycling or contributes to the landfills. Additionally when a product has shorter lifespan, this also means that a new product has to be bought to replace the one that failed.
Light weighting, Easy Manufacturability and the Sustainability Quotient:
Light weighting and easy manufacturability of a product has a positive environmental impact in another way as well. Lightweight product means that it is easier to move the product and it also consumes less power – This is invariably true in automotive design and manufacturing. While easy manufacturability means that a product is easy to manufacture, there are less parts and easy assembly. Hence, less resources and lesser energy is used for manufacturing and there is a major progression towards achieving sustainability goals.
May be you like to read more about : FEA Finite Element Analysis and its Fundamentals
(Image Source: pwgrosser.com)