Accuracy and Time Resolution in Thermal Transient Finite Element Analysis

For reasonable accuracy in thermal transient FEA, two related, but distinct, goals must be simultaneously attained: (1) the mesh must have sufficient intrinsic temporal and spatial resolution for the problem of interest; (2) the time steps must be sized to yield proper mathematical transient behavior for that mesh. If the distinction between these needs is not fully grasped, or either point simply disregarded, errors may be very large. 1D, 2D-axisymmetric, and 3D models of a simple thermal system are compared with closed-form theory to demonstrate how (and how not) to build a successful model with optimal computational performance.
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