11 Finite Element Analysis
The finite element method is a powerful numerical tool for calculating stress in complicated shell and plate structures that are difficult to analyze by classical plate and shell theories. The method consists of subdividing a given domain into small elements connected at the nodal points as shown in Figure 11.1. The mathematical formulation consists of combining the governing equations of each of the elements to form a solution for the domain that satisfies the boundary conditions. The approximations associated with finite element solutions depend on many variables such as the type of element selected, the number of elements used to model the domain, and the boundary conditions.