One of the biggest trends that has emerged in the CAD industry in the past several years is the push for simulation and analysis earlier in the design process. The simulation and analysis method that has seen the greatest adoption is finite element analysis (FEA). What was once the domain of PhD-level specialists became available to mere mortals when integrated into a number of mainstream CAD applications. Still, not everyone needs CAD for learning FEA or in their work. There has been and still is a need for a standalone FEA product, especially for educational applications. One of the obvious FEA solutions today is Abaqus 6.9 Student Edition (SE) from SIMULIA, a Dassault Systemes company.
Abaqus is not just a single application, but rather a suite of simulation programs that can solve a broad range of linear and non-linear problems and includes Abaqus/CAE, Abaqus/Standard, and Abaqus/Explicit. The Student Edition contains an extensive library of solid, shell, beam and connector elements that let you model just about any geometry. It also has a lot of material models that let you simulate the behavior of engineering materials ranging from metals to composites. Also worth mentioning is the extensive documentation available for Abaqus 6.9 SE. There are many volumes available remotely, as well as verification files, both good features for learning Abaqus. Because it is a general purpose simulation tool, Abaqus can be used to simulate and analyze problems beyond structural (stress/ displacement), but we’ll stick with the basics for the purposes of this review.