An Interactive Desktop and Scripting Environment for Engineering Analysis and CAE Process Automation
FEMtools Framework is a multi-functional environment for advanced engineering application development, integration, and automation. The framework includes data interfaces, database management utilities, mesh generation and manipulation tools, parameter and response management, state-of-the-art data visualization, plus a full featured scripting language and API function library.
Optionally, FEMtools Framework includes a standard finite element library and solvers for linear static and normal modes analysis. Extended analysis functionality is available in FEMtools Dynamics. Alternatively, standard external solvers like ABAQUS, ANSYS, MSC.Nastran, NX Nastran, I-DEAS or in-house solvers can easily be integrated and piloted as part of larger analysis processes.
This open and flexible CAE application development platform is used by analysts to integrate their tools, and create vertical applications that meet the specific requirements of an industry. A unique capability of FEMtools Framework is the integration of data resulting from experimental static or dynamic testing.
FEMtools Framework is used by Dynamic Design Solutions for the development of its test-analysis integration tools to validate, update and refine finite element models. Furthermore, a growing number of development partners are working on integrating their existing tools or developing entirely new tools that exploit the framework infrastructure and re-usable components. This is a more efficient approach than developing new applications from the ground-up. Some examples of current development projects by partners are integration of acoustics solvers, modal analysis tools, substructure synthesis, and vibration-based material identification.
FEMtools Framework is a software-neutral CAE application development tool mainly used for developing tools that exploit hybrid test and analysis databases. It provides the foundation for all FEMtools products and for products developed by independent partners.
As a stand-alone tool, FEMtools Framework can be used as a utility software for
FEMtools Framework Components
The main FEMtools Framework components consist of:
Direct Data Interfaces
FEMtools Framework is an open program that can be naturally integrated in an existing CAE environment. Two-directional translators are available with the most popular FEA and test database formats (NASTRAN, ANSYS, I-DEAS , ABAQUS, Universal File, ... and with other commercial software like MS Excel, and MATLAB. These translators are direct and are integrated with no limitation of FE model size. New interfaces can easily be developed using the FEMtools scripting language.
The ability to communicate with external databases serves several specific purposes, like for example:
Interface programs import external databases into a relational database of tables. FEMtools Framework provides a number of utilities for interactive definition, editing and transformation of all data in the internal database:
Mesh Generation and Morphing
A function library is available to generate surface meshes and volume meshes. Unstructured surface meshes can be generated for generic surface patches that are defined using simple geometry description (vertex, curve, surface). Volume meshes are obtained from 2D meshes with operations like extrusion and revolving.
This FEMtools API function library complements the lattice-based mesh deformation ('morphing') and provides the functionality to mesh very complex geometries. It can be used for applications like parametric meshing for shape optimization, meshing design spaces for topology optimization or to implement mesh coarsening and refinement tools
Mesh Quality Analysis
Mesh quality analysis tools verify the quality of imported or generated finite element meshes. Quality metrics like aspect ratio, convexity, taper, warp angle and others can be computed on the fly and visualized with color-coded mesh graphics. Results can be further post-processed by computing histograms or sorting mesh quality values. Additional mesh quality metrics can be implemented using the FEMtools Script programming language.
Integrated Basic Finite Element Analysis
If the FEMtools database contains the complete FE model description, the user can import externally computed mass and stiffness matrices, static displacement, normal modes, complex modes or operational shapes. Alternatively, the built-in element library and solvers can be used. Piloting external standard solvers like MSC.Nastran and ANSYS is completely automated using driver scripts.
Parameter and Response Management
FEMtools Framework provides commands and functions for definition of parameters and responses. Parameters are physical element properties that can be used as variables for sensitivity analysis, design optimization or model updating applications. The definition can be based on the existing property cards, for example the common material property of a set of elements. Alternatively, element sets can be defined by filters, graphical picking or Boolean operators. FEMtools manages the property cards and removes the hassle of manually creating new property cards as new element sets are created.
Interactive User Interface
FEMtools is operated via a customizable menu interface, the FEMtools command language and FEMtools scripting. The menu interface is attractive if you are a new or occasional user, if you need to edit tables or display graphics. You can browse through the different menus to get a overview of the features and easily experiment with different commands. The FEMtools command language is for more experienced users who prefer to type commands in the entry field of the console window. This mode is often the fastest way to complete standard procedures, or run your own scripts. Once a procedure becomes more complex, needs to be developed or repeated often with only small changes, using FEMtools scripting language is the most suitable approach.
For report generation, users of the Windows version can take advantage of the Copy and Paste features to transfer text and graphics between FEMtools and other applications like Word or Excel via the Windows Clipboard.
A user often wants to repeat the GUI menu and dialog box actions on another database, or just keep track of all the action required to reach his goal. FEMtools records all actions in a journal file that can then be edited and re-used as a command script.
Data is visualized using interactive 2D and 3D graphics. Functions, tables, scalar and vector results are visualized in curve, matrix and mesh plots. OpenGL graphics offers quality graphic performance that you have come to expect from the newest generation of engineering workstations:
Animated shapes can be saved as AVI files (on Windows) or a series of bitmap files (on Unix and Windows). AVI files can be directly imported in presentation or reporting software.
FEMtools Script Language
FEMtools Script is the integrated FEMtools programming language that is designed with the needs of the FEA analyst in mind. The language offers many advanced features but is based on a easy to learn standard syntax (Basic).
Menus and toolbars can be customized to provided access to your own functions and commands. FEMtools Script makes FEA scripting easy and fun so you can focus on your solution.
For more information, see FEMtools Script and API.
Support of sparse matrices
Many finite element-based applications involve the use of sparse matrices i.e. banded and sparsely populated matrices. The memory requirements of programs can therefore be seriously reduced by storing only the non-zero elements of these matrices and perform matrix operations directly on the sparse matrix. FEMtools includes the functions to define, delete and work with sparse matrices.
Support of regular expressions
To facilitate string and table parsing, several functions like Match, Replace, Search, and Split are available with support for complex regular expressions.
Functions for OLE automation
FEMtools Script programmers can take advantage of the power of OLE automation to extend the capabilities of an application on Microsoft Windows platforms. There are many potential applications for using OLE automation servers. Just imagine how you could integrate with, for example, Microsoft Office applications to use Word as a report writer, use PowerPoint to make presentations of you results or use Excel to post-process FEMtools tables as spreadsheets.
You can also extend the math programming functions of FEMtools Script by making use of the extensive library of math and graphics functions that are provided by general purpose programming environments like MATLAB and its many specialized toolboxes. By exploiting the MATLAB object model you can use all MATLAB functions from within FEMtools Script programs.
There is a growing number of finite element programs that have been rewritten for the Windows operating system and support an object model. Data interfaces between FEMtools and these FEA solvers could be based on OLE automation.
By using OLE automation, you can seamlessly integrate external tools with your FEMtools Script programs without the user knowing that you are actually using for example Microsoft Word or MATLAB. This possibility holds a tremendous potential to increase the power, efficiency, speed and user-friendliness of your applications.
FEMtools API Function Libraries
The FEMtools API is a library of functions that can be used from within script programs to access FEA data or test data, re-use built-in solvers and analysis tools, user interface development, and pilot external CAE or test tools.
There are no prerequisites. See Supported Platforms and Requirements.
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