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Finite Element Analysis (FEA) is designed to save money and time by
computerizing engineering analysis.
FEA is a digital way to test designs against predictable forces, to
determine whether a design will fail and, if so, when and how the material
will deform, snap, or collapse.
Digital prototyping also allows engineers to quickly dig into more design options.
However, FEA does not eliminate the need for prototypes, but it can shorten
the process. Often only one or two prototypes needs to be built and tested
before anything new goes into production.
This means the biggest challenge in FEA is validation, carefully chosen and closely monitored physical tests that confirm whether or not physical reality and virtual reality line up.
In the Engineering world, we're often asked questions about the accuracy of FEA modeling versus reality.
The answer is FEA provides the right information versus reality as long as you approach the topic correctly from an engineering point of view.