Serious part designers can’t do without Finite Element Analysis (FEA).
FEA provides a means of simulating the forces on a part design before it’s even built so that errors and optimizations can be corrected well before the a commitment to build.
The idea is to identify the material from which each component is to be made, and then define the direction(s) and magnitude(s) of forces placed upon those components.
FEA will show how mechanical stress is transferred through the part structure, typically with a colorful diagram as shown above.
Most often you’ll find FEA included in the more expensive 3D CAD packages, or sometimes in pricey standalone software used in conjunction with the 3D CAD packages. But now there’s another FEA option that is entirely cloud based.
Intact.design offers such a service. You can upload designs and then make the specifications for the analysis. Their cloud engine makes the mathematical calculations and reveals a result later on.
Intact.design has three pricing plans: A free version provides only five simulations, and those go to the back of the line when competing for cloud resources. Their standard plan is USD$60 per month and offers unlimited simulations with more precise results. Finally, they offer an enterprise plan that presumably is more economical for those with a larger number of participants, and API connectivity for more advanced applications.
The service seems quite easy to use, at least according to their latest video, which shows how they easily integrate with Onshape, a 3D CAD service that’s also completely cloud-based.
The service permits definition of a number of different types of forces with quite a bit of freedom.
If you’re looking for a suitable FEA solution and don’t want to pay a large up-front fee, Intact.design might be the service for you.