The best free FEA software packages

Hi, today is the second part of the article about open source solutions in FEM. In part one, I presented the most important free programs that are individual parts of FEA systems (geometry, mesh, solvers, postprocessor). In this article, I will describe programs that are whole FEM packages.


The first program is Salome-Meca. It is a connection of programs: Salome – geometry, meshes and postprocessor with Code-aster solver. This software has a lot of calculation capabilities (static and dynamic, linear and nonlinear analisys, thermal, modal, harmonic, acoustic, damage, fracture, nonlinear material laws). As in the first article, writing about Code Aster, I can repeat, it’s strange that so many options are available in free, open-source software. In my opinion, the Salome-Meca package with its functionality could have the same role in the world of FEA as OpenFOAM has in CFD, because its functionality does not differ from commercial FEA programs.
The program also has small disadvantages that perhaps just limit its popularity. First, it is less intuitive than the commercial programs or the other free packages listed today, although this does not at all mean that it is operated in a notepad. Secondly, the French language. The developers originally wrote the documentation in that language and then translated it into English. In addition, the names of some functions in the program are taken from their French names, which can be confusing for most users. Third, the program works best on Linux. (In one of the next articles I will describe how to install Salome-Meca on Windows).

FreeCad FEM Workbench

The second package is a plug-in for FreeCad called FreeCad FEM Workbench. The CAD plug-in adds the most important functions needed for FEM (material library, superimposition of loads and bonds) has well-known solutions for meshing the model (Netgen and Gmsh) and gives the possibility to connect several solvers. The primary solver is CalculiX, which allows calculation of static, modal and thermal analyses. In addition, the Elmer, Mystran and Z88 solvers are available. The plugin has its own postprocessing module that allows you to view the results.
This program does not have as many capabilities to Salome-Meca (the capabilities of open-source programs are changing rapidly, but until recently it was impossible to assign two different materials for analysis in this program), but it is easier to use. I think it is a good choice for people who have experience working in FreeCad and would like to try to do FEA analysis.


The third package from is gaining popularity. The PrePoMax program is a pre- and post-processor for the CalucliX solver, and uses the netgen program to create meshes. The author of the program is Matej Borovinšek. It allows linear and nonlinear static analyses, thermal analyses, vibration or buckling analysis, among others. The program is supported on windows, making it available to more users. PrePoMax has a very easy, clear interface, is well developed (more features available in CalucliX are added to the GUI) has well-written documentation (Salome-Meca loses a lot) and many tutorials available to watch on youtube.
With SalomeMeca I wrote that this program can compete with commercial FEA packages (like Ansys, Abaqus). In my opinion PrePoMax is a very good (better) alternative to FEA programs added to CAD programs like Solidworks Simulation.


In the article I described 3 open source packages for FEA calculations: Salome-Meca, FreeCAD FEM Workbench and PrePoMax. The most extensive is Salome, but at the same time it has the most difficult entry level. An interesting solution is the rapidly developing and gaining popularity PrePoMax – proving that a free program can be user-friendly. The FEM Workbench module for FreeCad is similar in simplicity to PrePoMax is a good option for people using FreeCad.

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One Comment

  1. Good post. I learn something totally new and challenging on blogs I stumbleupon on a daily basis. Its always useful to read content from other authors and practice something from their websites.

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