PrePoMax – the best open source FEA software?

In an article with free FEM packages, I listed three programs worth looking into (link to article): Salome Meca, PrePoMax and Freecad Workbench FEM. In today’s article I will describe the second of these.

About PrePoMax

PrePoMax is a pre and post processor for the Calculix solver. It has recently become more popular and is developing very rapidly. The developer of the programme is Dr Matej Borovinsek from the University of Maribor. 

With the programme, we can solve linear and non-linear (geometry, material, contact) 2D and 3D static analyses, buckling and vibration analyses or basic thermal analyses. The programme has a geometry importer and an in-built NetGen mesher, which can be used to create shell and solid meshes (tetrahedral only); a hexahedral mesh can be imported into the programme (e.g. generated in Salome or Gmesh).

What makes the programme stand out among other free solutions is its simple and intuitive use.

About Calculix

I have already introduced the Calculix solver in this article. It is well known in the fea community. The inputs used for the analysis settings resemble those used in the commercial Abaqus. The program is written by engineers from the German company MTU Aero Engines.

The best open source FEA software?

Okay, after a brief introduction, let’s try to answer the question from the title of the article. Is PrePoMax ( with Calculix) the best free Mes analysis software? Both yes and no. Is it a powerful programme with the best/most user-friendly interface? I am already after the first tests of the programme and definitely yes. Is it the most powerful programme with the most calculation possibilities? No, Salome-Meca has more possibilities e.g. fracture mechanics, hex meshing. 

To summarise the answer to the question in the article: it depends. You have to decide for yourself what is most important for you whether the simpler use (in the first impression much simpler use) and the great possibilities of the program, or the greater possibilities but a little more difficult interface (hopefully my two tutorials in SalomeMeca have shown that it is not difficult). In my opinion, PrePoMax is a great program to replace commercial programs that are added to CAD programs (e.g. SolidWorks Simulation). Salome Meca reminds me more of Ansys Classic APDL, infinite possibilities but a more difficult interface.

How to install PrePoMax and Calculix?

PrePoMax is available for Windows. You can download the programme from this page and unzipped on disk. It is recommended that the installation location does not contain spaces and is easily accessible, e.g. the Prepomax folder on the D: drive (it is better not to install in the Program Files folder), it is advisable to make a shortcut to the program on the desktop.  PrePoMax already contains the basic Calulix solver. However, if you would like the latest version, you can download it from this page (save as). In the program folder, there is a ready-made example with which you can check the program and the solver.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *