Finite element analysis software (FEA software)

Simulate the effect of multiple real-world forces on your product—while it’s still in the 3D model phase. FEA software predicts with dependable accuracy how a product will react to mechanical stress and vibration, fatigue, motion, heat, fluid flow and more, so you can make adjustments before making a prototype.

Jet engine finite element analysis

What is finite element analysis software?

Finite element analysis (FEA) is a computerized method for predicting how a product reacts to real-world forces, vibration, heat, fluid flow, and other physical effects. Finite element analysis shows whether a product will break, wear out, or work the way it was designed. In the product development process, FEA simulation is used to predict what is going to happen when the product is used in its real world application to ensure it achieves whatever tasks that component needs to perform safely and efficiently.

Jet engine finite element analysis

How does finite element analysis work?

Finite element analysis (FEA) software works by breaking down a real object into a large number (thousands to millions) of finite elements in the forms of shapes like cubes or tetrahedrons. Mathematical equations help predict the behavior of each element. A computer then adds up or averages all the individual behaviors to predict the behavior of the actual object.

Finite element analysis helps predict the behavior of products affected by many physical effects, including:

Benefits of finite element analysis (FEA) software

Accurate performance modeling

Finite element analysis (FEA) software closes the gap between your 3D design and the real world. When you can apply forces like heat, mechanical stress, and vibration computationally to your digital model, its performance in the real world can be modeled with a deep level of accuracy.

Virtual prototyping

FEA software lets you prototype virtually, addressing each area of lower-than-acceptable performance in turn (or all at once) to improve your model before you ever commit time and resources to making a physical prototype.

Predictive analysis

In addition, you can pre-load simulations with predictive analysis, introducing historical data about similar objects to give you an even better starting point.

Image courtesy of Dynamic Structures Ltd.

Autodesk FEA software solutions for manufacturing

See how the Autodesk solution for FEA and digital prototyping is helping manufacturers design, visualize, and simulate consumer products, industrial machinery, building products, and more.

Finite element analysis and simulation software for product design

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Cloud-based 3D CAD/CAM/CAE software for product design

Professional-grade product design and engineering tools for 3D mechanical design, simulation, visualization, and documentation.

CAD-embedded finite element analysis software

Simulation and design tools for plastic injection and compression molding.

finite element analysis photo with overlay

Finite element analysis and simulation software for students

Students can push the boundaries of finite element analysis and simulation with Autodesk software. Download the same, full version software that more than 9 million designers, engineers, and digital artists are using, including Autodesk Inventor Professional, Autodesk CFD, Autodesk Moldflow Advisor Ultimate, and Autodesk Robot Structural Analysis Professional software.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

What is FEA software used for?

FEA software takes your 3D design file and tests its performance against the fluid dynamics, heat transfer, mechanical stress, and other factors it will be exposed to when it exists in the real world.

What is the difference between FEM and FEA?

Finite element method (FEM) is the solving of equations generated by the mathematical modeling of engineering projects.


Finite element analysis (FEA) is the application of finite element method (FEM) data, which interprets its mathematical values and analyzes how you can improve the performance of your model when exposed to various physical forces.

Can you do FEA by hand?

You absolutely can do FEA by hand. Finite element analysis (FEA) is just math. In the pre-digital age, performance calculations were done on paper using a physical prototype during testing.


The difference today is that the algorithms driving simulation software can perform FEA calculations much faster and can test for multiple force effects simultaneously.


It also means you don’t need to build a physical model to apply calculations—the system can apply them to your 3D design without leaving your desktop.


While FEA by hand is still feasible for simple geometries or when a prototype already exists, FEA simulation software can test the performance of ever-more complicated geometries, so the design process isn’t constrained by what you can measure by hand.

How much RAM do I need for FEA software?

Simulation software is quite workstation intensive. A general rule of thumb is that you need around 16 GB of RAM per million degrees of freedom in a standalone system, but this can vary greatly based on model complexity.

The ability to solve many simulations using secured cloud solving does free up personal system resources such as RAM, however, for the software that also has the ability to solve simulations locally (such as Moldflow and CFD), the installation guides provide test cases to recommended RAM and other resources for the installation to run efficiently. Here is a breakdown for the current releases of Autodesk simulation software:

  • Fusion 360:
    • 4 GB of RAM (integrated graphics recommend 6 GB or more) (See details)
    • Simulations are performed on cloud solvers, thus the recommended RAM pertains to general needs by Fusion 360 software to operate efficiently.
    • The Fusion 360 Simulation Extension, Fusion 360 Generative Design Extension, and the Fusion 360 Additive Build Extension both require the minimum recommended RAM as shown within the Fusion 360 system requirements.
  • Inventor Nastran 2024:
  • Moldflow Insight/Synergy 2023:
    • 8 GB or higher of RAM (See details)
    • Increased RAM improves system performance when setting up very large models (especially meshing), and enables more efficient local solving. 
    • Cloud solving is available with Insight for a token cost. When solving simulations on the cloud, local resources would just require the minimum recommended RAM to operate Moldflow Insight efficiently.
  • Moldflow Adviser 2023:
    • 8 GB or higher of RAM (See details)
    • Increased RAM improves system performance when setting up very large models. 
  • CFD 2023:
    • 16 GB or higher of RAM (laptop); 32 GB or higher of RAM (desktop) (See details)
    • Cloud solving is available with CFD for a token cost. When solving simulations on the cloud, local resources would just require the minimum recommended RAM to operate CFD efficiently. Local solves will likely run more efficiently with higher RAM. 
  • Netfabb 2023:
    • 16 GB of RAM; 64 GB of RAM recommended for local simulation (See details)

How much does FEA software cost?

Inventor Nastran, Autodesk’s dedicated CAD-integrated simulation product, costs as little as per month, but like other Autodesk products, if purchased annually users can save over 30% of the total price (/year). The base-level Fusion 360 (/month) has static stress simulation included for free. Other Fusion 360 simulations require a subscription to the Simulation Extension, Flex, or pay-per-solution. The Fusion 360 Simulation Extension (/month) includes a wide range of advanced simulation.

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