Last night I tried answering a question I've had for a while- can you really do a proper FEA analysis using free (or at least very cheap) software? I've found myself recommending a couple of times to find a free FEA package for running an analysis on simple geometries, but I don't actually have first-hand knowledge towards that end... :uhh: So at home I did a little looking around online and found LISA (http://www.lisa-fet.com/), an FEA package that is able to solve a nice array of structural FEA problems (and some CFD it claims). It's "free" up to 1300 nodes, and $80 unlocks it completely. So I downloaded LISA and messed around with it a little bit; the geometry meshing interface isn't the best (no surprise, I'm used to operating ANSYS which is around $35,000 per seat) but it does have the capability of making a simple FEA model for a block or other geometries. There are also some good tutorials available on YouTube and elsewhere to allow you to follow along in some basic structural analyses. Overall it seems capable but it will take me a little work to get comfortable with the interface and starting a mesh from scratch (it's hard to go old-school carbureted beater when you're used to flying in corporate jets ) http://www.lisa-fet.com/images/anim_usability.gif [Broken] LISA is also able to import several different solid models including STEP, so my next question was can I find a simple CAD package (hopefully parametric) which is better in 3-D modeling and can export STEP for LISA. This basically mimics my at-work practice of modeling a design in Pro-E or SolidWorks and then import to ANSYS using parasolid or STEP. I ended up finding what I consider to be a nice little package on Sourceforge called FreeCAD (http://sourceforge.net/apps/mediawiki/free-cad/index.php?title=Main_Page [Broken]) This was a big find IMO because its geometry modeling capabilities are well ahead of LISA and it enables you to model a geometry and then have LISA import and mesh it. Picture of FreeCAD interface: http://sourceforge.net/apps/mediawiki/free-cad/nfs/project/f/fr/free-cad/thumb/3/33/Rim_bling.png/800px-Rim_bling.png [Broken] So that's about as far as I got last night, but I think I've got the workings of a nice structural FEA solution for about $80. I haven't bought LISA yet but I'm going to try running an analysis tonight on one or two simple geometries and see how they turn out with only 1300 nodes.