Finite Element Analysis (FEA) codes have become increasingly more user-friendly prompting greater use in pressure equipment design and analysis. One just has to observe the number of papers published in the field of pressure vessel and piping which are based on FEA studies to realize that FEA plays a very significant role. Despite the seemingly unlimited potential of FEA to analyze pressure equipment, it is not always suited to certain applications and in fact can have many drawbacks. This paper draws on the experience of the authors to present examples of where FEA is particularly well suited and other examples of where it is not cost effective and therefore not recommended. It is the intention that this will help identify those classes of analysis where FEA has merit in pursing. Guidance and words of caution are also provided about the use of FEA to assist in ensuring that the results can be relied upon.

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