inite Element Analysis (FEA) consists of a computer model of a material or design that is stressed and analyzed for specific results. These results are then internalized and interpreted to refine the product and optimize its manufacturing. FEA was actually first developed in 1943 by R. Courant, to generate various solutions for vibration systems and measure stiffness and deflexion of complex structures. As you can see this technique is not new but it has been refined over many years. With a 3D model a theoretical product can be modified and assessed in a theoretical space before it is ever implemented into production. Using FEA to progressively tweak and refine a product through various product iterations yields the best results.
FEA is not exclusive to Templar skis and many Ski manufacturers are turning to use this technique as it can rapidly change the optimization process and bring new design to market at a fraction of the time and cost of traditional guess and test approaches. Now many CAD software suites have built-in FEA design features that let the engineers and designers have access to a veritable mountain of potential data. Although extremely powerful as a set of tools it also can lead to poor outcomes if a person using the software suite has a poor understanding of what is actually being analyzed, and what the model is being optimized for. In our case we found these platforms great starting blocks but overall very poorly fit for the ski industry. As an example in our core / composite sandwich FEA model we found no way to integrate resin penetration properties into the off-the-shelf CAD FEA designs so we decided to do our own FEA model. We will post a few updates explaining our process in the near future, so if you are keen on this kind of stuff make sure to keep yourself posted!
As a little bit of trivia, we played so much with this stuff that many of our top sheet graphics are artistic representations of FEA.
asics of FEA
At a fundamental level FEA is taking a very complex mechanical problem; say a ski that has many wooden and composite materials in varied shapes interacting with each other, breaking it down into much smaller elements that can be solved using simpler methods and understandings of materials. We refer to the process of breaking up a complex design as meshing that results in numerous smaller elements interacting with each other via locations known as nodes.
The goal of FEA is to optimize the design for the materials used. It can also be used to maximize the performance of a design by altering the materials used. For FEA to work as intended many factors need to be taken into consideration, Element size, shape, and node and material properties.