Finite Element Method I FEM Software

Finite Element Method (FEM) - Calculation and Simulation with SIMULIA Software around Abaqus Unified FEA

With the help of FEM software, you as a user can simulate the real behavior of components with geometrically complex shapes under a wide variety of conditions and thus make your development process much faster and more efficient.

What is the principle of the finite element method?

The component to be analyzed is divided into smaller, for example tetrahedral segments. So-called “finite elements”. Since the behavior of these partial elements can be calculated, the behavior of the entire component can also be approximated with the aid of numerical approximation methods. Even before a prototype is built, any number of tests can be carried out using such a virtual model. This significantly reduces the number of physical prototypes required.

In the automotive industry, for example, development teams are able to use a common model data structure and integrated solver technology to investigate complete vehicle loads, vibration dynamics, multi-body systems, impact/crash, nonlinear statics, heat coupling, and the coupling of acoustics and structural behavior.


What makes us specialists in the field of FEM simulation?

When our company was founded in 1971, Wölfel was one of the pioneers in the finite element method in Germany. Today we are one of the leading engineering companies in Europe with over 800 projects in our fields of structural mechanics, dynamics and acoustics every year.

As a certified Dassault Systèmes sales, support and service partner, we also work with one of the leading developers in this field. Our portfolio ranges from FEM calculation with SIMULIA/Abaqus, topology optimization with SIMULIA/Tosca and parametric optimization with SIMULIA/Isight to lifetime calculation with SIMULIA/fe-safe. With these optimally coordinated simulation tools, users can realize routine tasks as well as complex development projects regardless of their industry.


  • Virtual functional testing
  • Virtual strength analysis
  • Fast evaluation of different variants


  • Early detection of vulnerabilities
  • Fewer and more targeted trials
  • Material saving


  • Simulation as a driver of innovation
  • Shorter development times
  • Optimized products

Finite element analysis with SIMULIA Abaqus Unified FEA

Improved product quality, lower development costs, better competitiveness

In order to virtually depict individual design variants in the development process, several simulation tools from different providers are often used. However, working with heterogeneous simulation environments is often error-prone, labor-intensive and thus ultimately expensive, especially with regard to data transfer. SIMULIA provides a scalable range of coordinated analysis tools under the Abaqus/CAE user interface. Simulation data can be seamlessly exchanged, processes are optimized and consolidated.

The extremely powerful and reliable solvers Abaqus/Standard and Abaqus/Explicit make the software suite particularly suitable for simulating complex processes, which include:

  • Highly non-linear material behavior
  • Variable geometry with extremely large deformations
  • Contact and self-contact
  • Multi-physical phenomena (e.g. fluid-structure interactions)
  • Transient dynamic events (e.g. drop tests/crash)

Extensive material model and element libraries are available to the user. If required, additional elements and material models can be programmed and implemented.

Besides the calculation of static, implicitly or explicitly dynamic processes and frequency calculations, SIMULIA offers within one license the possibility of topology optimization (Tosca), parametric optimization (Isight) and lifetime calculation (fe-safe). The administration is done via an intuitive token model, which allows for highest flexibility in the license configuration.

The advantages of SIMULIA Abaqus at a glance:

Improved product quality


Lower costs through virtual tests


Accelerated development cycles and higher efficiency


High-end software for high-end components


One license, many functions (statics, dynamics, frequency, optimization, lifetime, ...)

The functions of SIMULIA Abaqus at a glance:


  • Abaqus/CAE combines model creation (pre-processing), solution tracking (monitoring of Abaqus/Standard or Abaqus/Explicit) and result viewing (post-processing) seamlessly integrated in one graphical user-interface (GUI)
  • Administration of material cards in a library
  • Very well programmable and automatable through Python-based scripts/interfaces
  • Interfaces to various CAD programs (Catia, SolidWorks, NX, ProEngineer)
  • Variety of Plug-Ins available for download
  • Modelling assistants (e.g. to identify contact pairs, reuse existing components or define fibre composite structures)


  • Efficient, robust, implicit solver
  • Automatic incrementation possible
  • Efficient handling of nonlinearities and contacts
  • Comprehensive contact definitions (general contact, contact pairs, automated resolution of contact overlaps, e.g. for interference fits)
  • Used, for example, for static analyses, slow dynamic analyses and steady state transport analyses
  • Analysis can be continued with Abaqus/Explicit
  • Highly efficient calculation, including the possibility to distribute the computation on CPUs and GPUs


  • Efficient, explicit solver, e.g. for highly non-linear high-speed dynamic analyses (crash, drop tests) or highly non-linear quasi-static analyses (forming processes, complex contact states)
  • Good scalability even for large number of CPUs
  • Contact features such as general contact and automated resolution for interference fits and initial contact penetrations (Interference Fit – from version 2019HF1)

Topology optimization with SIMULIA Tosca

Efficient structure design in shortened development time

Product innovations should be light, safe, comfortable, efficient and durable. SIMULIA Tosca Structure helps engineers to design individual components or entire assemblies that meet these and other requirements and make optimum use of the available design space. 

Topology, thickness, shape and bead optimization can minimize material usage and weight and maximize overall product performance. As the various design variants are created, tested and compared virtually, the development time is reduced and the new product can be launched on the market more quickly. 

Tosca Structure works on the basis of FEA simulations. Due to the seamless integration of the design data, time-consuming parameterization is not necessary. The tool is also suitable for particularly demanding tasks with contact, pronounced material nonlinearities and large deformations. 

The advantages of SIMULIA Tosca at a glance:

Improved overall performance of your product

Developing more durable and lighter components and products

Optimization with regard to production boundary conditions

Discovering new design possibilities

Reduced number of product development cycles

Automation of Development Processes with SIMULIA Isight

Parametric Optimization, DOE and Robust Design

Today's complex product and manufacturing development often requires interlinked simulation processes, where the parameters and results of one software package are needed as input for another package. Manual input costs a lot of time, is prone to errors and slows down the entire product development process.

In SIMULIA Isight, the process flow with all applications is graphically represented in a virtual test plan. Individual simulation applications or self-developed scripts can be directly integrated into the workflow using the "drag and drop" principle. Isight then automates the data exchange between the interfaces and the execution of the applications. In just a few hours, a large number of variants can be tested. In addition Isight evaluates result variables and identifies the optimal design parameters (parametric optimization). 

Automated data exchange in an open system

Acceleration of iteration steps and shortening of the development process

Increased quality and reliability of your product


Lower development costs

  • SIMULIA Abaqus
  • NX Nastran
  • MSC.Adams
  • MSC.Patran
  • Adams Car
  • SimCode
  • DLL
  • XML
  • COM
  • Email
  • Databases
  • JAVA Script
  • Excel
  • Matlab
  • Data Matching
  • Calculator

Lifetime analysis with SIMULIA fe-safe

Extend the life of critical components

Components and products are to be made lighter and lighter by using less material, without sacrificing quality and resistance. Because fatigue fractures are expensive and can lead to accidents, but at least to costly product recalls and warranty claims.

Manual definition and analysis of stress points is time-consuming and often inaccurate. If you add material at supposed fracture points due to wrong assumptions, the product is heavier in the worst case, but no longer durable.

SIMULIA fe-safe uses multiaxial, stress or strain-based fatigue methods to analyze the life of a product. The software makes it possible to determine the influence of load histories from the manufacturing process, operating load, high temperature and creep.

The calculation is based on the results of SIMULIA Abaqus or other common FEM solutions such as ANSYS and NASTRAN. The results are quickly available regardless of the complexity of the analysis and are visualized, for example, in Abaqus/CAE. Plots with isolines show the expected lifetime. Points at which a crack is to be expected are marked. 

fe-safe has an extensive material database and is particularly suitable for products and components made of metal and elastomers. Assemblies with different parts, surfaces and materials can be analyzed in a single run.

Fatigue hotspots are identified

Material can be saved or added in the right places

Extends the life of critical components

Product recalls and warranty costs are reduced

Verifiably loadable machine components thanks to computational strength verification in accordance with the FKM guideline – Software and service from a single source

Simulations using the finite element method (FEM) provide information on the stress and deformation of a component.

On this basis, rough derivations are possible as to whether the component exceeds the permissible stress at corresponding points. However, many factors influencing the strength of a component remain unnoticed. These include:

  • Manufacturing influences, such as surface finish or strain hardening  
  • Design and shape-related parameters, for example in the case of thin-walled structures or in relation to the effective diameter of axles and shafts
  • Material properties and material characteristics, for example with regard to plasticization or crack formation
  • Superposition and cyclic sequence of load cases  

The Forschungskuratorium Maschinenbau e.V. (FKM) has defined the so-called "Computational Strength Analysis of Mechanical Engineering Components" (generally referred to as the "FKM Guideline") against this background. This uniformly structured calculation algorithm for evaluating strength and service life has established itself as a reliable standard in the German-speaking world and is subject to continuous further development.

Full-surface, visualized FKM verification with AutoFENA in just a few minutes

To perform the FKM verification, the use of computational programs is the obvious choice. It is true that failure-critical points can be identified with a great deal of engineering expertise. However, at the latest when superpositions and sequences of load cases occur, the verification and visualization of the strength become

  • complex,  
  • costly and
  • ultimately uncertain due to manual data input.

The FKM calculation program AutoFENA, developed by ihf Ingenieurgesellschaft, completes this process in just a few minutes.

The program uses the data from the FEM software (e.g. SIMULIA Abaqus) via an interface and thus offers an automated workflow through which any load case combinations can be analyzed and displayed without any problems. By feeding the results back into the FEM software, a 3D visualization of the degree of utilization over the entire surface of the examined component is created.

Gain safety, minimize risk

Reduce effort (e.g. no manual selection of failure critical points)

Increase efficiency thanks to guided process between FEM and FKM software

Exploit material reserves

Static and cyclic verifications

Competent support and service with complementary know-how from ihf

When does it make sense to outsource FKM verifications?

We not only provide you with the appropriate tools, we also support you within the scope of services: For example, if you are facing particularly complex challenges, are pressed for time or do not have sufficient capacity for extensive projects, you can draw on the expertise of our experienced simulation engineers without having to invest in additional personnel and software yourself. As a specialized engineering company we deliver accurate and reliable results within a short timeframe.

Why should you work with Wölfel and ihf?

Wölfel has successfully carried out hundreds of simulation projects itself over the past decades. Not only the customers who commission us to carry out FKM or weld seam verifications in compliance with the guidelines benefit from this experience, but also our customers in software sales: we ourselves know the programs we offer down to the last detail. And of course, Wölfel only sells software that our own simulation engineers personally recommend. In this way, we can provide you with optimal and transparent advice on software procurement and ensure first-class support. The supplier of AutoFENA, ihf Ingenieurgesellschaft, is not just any software developer, but is actively involved in the further development of the FKM guideline itself. This ensures that all changes are up-to-date and reliably incorporated into the program.

Contact us now if you want to achieve more efficiency, speed and safety in the FKM verification process and thus for your entire design processes.

Your focus is on FE-based fatigue analysis without the application of the FKM guideline?

Then we recommend SIMULIA fe-safe from the SIMULIA Unified License Portfolio. Contact us – together we will find the right solution along with the ideal workflow for you. No matter whether you want to procure software and use it yourself or access our expertise as a simulation service provider to accelerate your product development projects.

Please contact us personally


We are happy to advise you on the development, optimization and automation of your simulation processes as well as on questions concerning your licenses and the work with SIMULIA software.

Dipl.-Ing. Wolfgang Rupp
CAE Software

+49 931 49708183

Michael Nguyen
CAE Software

+49 931 49708185