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Nicholsons Implements Advanced FEA & CAE


Nicholsons Sealing Technologies have been leading the design and delivery of sealing solutions to customers in aerospace, automotive, offshore oil and gas, energy and processing industries for over eighty years. The organisationís competitive advantage lies in itís development experience of Ďresilient metal sealsí and gaskets, and in the lean manufacture of these solutions to the exacting quality standards, lead times, and commercial requirements of the customer industry. The Product & Design Engineering discipline within Nicholsons is committed to the company goal of continual improvement. Aiming to become the acknowledged industry leader in sealing knowledge, design lead-time and service levels, the PDE department in August 2002 put together a CAE (Computer Aided Engineering) /FEA (Finite Element Analysis) strategy to directly support the rapid achievement of these goals.

CAE/FEA Strategy

Aimed to primarily:

  • Increase sealing knowledge

  • Reduce design lead-time

CAE/FEA tools must improve each step in the design process and the movement of work through them.









Benefits of advanced Computer Aided Engineering (CAE)

  • Moves concept to verified design quickly

  • Enables rapid CAD/FEA integration

  • Supports communication of designs between internal and customer teams

  • Moves product design to tool design to production and lean manufacture

NST CAE combines 3D Computer Aided Drawing & Manufacturing (CADAM) with the ERP functionality of PDM (Product Data Management) to allow rapid Engineering Design and Development of seal solutions.

NST has chosen Solid Works Professional to ensure compatibility with customer systems and for lead-time reduction.

Benefits of advanced Finite Element Analysis (FEA)

  • Models non-linear material response

  • Determines effect of extremes of heat, temperature and compression on seal

  • Enables prediction of high and low cycle fatigue life, creep and cavity loading

  • Allows rapid concept design development

  • Accelerates development and optimisation of existing products

  • Provides confidence levels/reduces testing

  • Supports standard/custom solution service

FEA allows complex geometry products in arduous applications to be modelled, analysed and rapidly optimised to customer specification whilst reducing the need for costly, test programs. Ultimately, it provides a deeper knowledge of the product range in a reduced time.

NST has chosen ANSYS Professional to ensure customers trust implicitly the validity of analysis results and to support an on-demand FEA service for both custom and standard jobs.      

Key Objectives set out in the CAE/FEA Strategy in August 2002 were to:

  • specify CAE/FEA system requirements for specific NST products and services
  • acquire and develop key personnel and implementation partners
  • move capability in house, define best practice processes, develop standard work
  • carry out product audit of existing seals, optimise designs, develop new seal solutions
  • support custom design work carried out with key customers

Progress has been rapid and embraced both inside NST and by customers. April 2003 saw the key objectives comprehensively achieved, although the process identified much further work to be done. Of our product range, the resilient metal seals experience the greatest application loading extremes, and so all standard configurations were the first to be modelled. Physical tests are being carried out to ensure predicted behaviour corresponds to actual results, and that models are fully verified. The systems implemented are now supporting our Engineers in their work on the most ambitious aerospace and automotive engineering projects globally, and in the delivery of our standard and modified product range.

For information on the commercial and engineering benefits, contact:
Liz Green (Nicholsons Business Development Director)         
Nick Green (Nicholsons UK Managing Director)      
on  +44 (0) 1207 560505.