On the development of an open-source preprocessing framework for finite element simulations

2019-05-14T14:41:22Z (GMT) by Alexandra D Mallory
Computational modeling is essential for material and structural analyses for a multitude of reasons, including for the improvement of design and reducing manufacturing costs. However, the cost of commercial finite element packages prevent companies with limited financial resources from accessing them. Free finite element solvers, such as Warp3D, exist as robust alternatives to commercial finite element analysis (FEA) packages. This and other open-source finite element solvers are not necessarily easy to use. This is mainly due to a lack of a preprocessing framework, where users can generate meshes, apply boundary conditions and forces, or define materials. We developed a preprocessor for Warp3d, which is referred to as <i>W3DInput</i>, to generate input files for the processor. <i>W3DInput</i> creates a general framework, at no cost, to go from CAD models to structural analysis. With this preprocessor, the user can import a mesh from a mesh generator software – for this project, Gmsh was utilized – and the preprocessor will step the user through the necessary inputs for a Warp3D file. By using this preprocessor, the input file is guaranteed to be in the correct order and format that is readable by the solver, and makes it more accessible for users of all levels. With this preprocessor, five use cases were created: a cantilever beam, a displacement control test, a displacement control test with a material defined by a user-defined stress-strain curve, a crystal plasticity model, and pallet. Results were outputted to Exodus II files for viewing in Paraview, and the results were verified by checking the stress-strain curves. Results from these use cases show that the input files generated from the preprocessor functions were correct.