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Header of the course Introduction to Biomechanical Computer Simulation. Digital Modelling and Finite Element Analysis Applied to Biosciences - 4th Edition


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Introduction to Biomechanical Computer Simulation. Digital Modelling and Finite Element Analysis Applied to Biosciences


Finite Element Analysis (FEA) is a great tool for biologists, palaeontologists, doctors, veterinarians, and other biosciences specialities in which researchers face questions about biomechanics of living and extinct organisms. Elements like bone, arthropod exoskeleton, mollusc shells, or the stems and leaves of plants can be analysed using this technique. FEA is a non-invasive modelling technique and is based on a numerical analysis on the principle of dividing a system into a finite number of discrete elements where the equations are applied. Although static and dynamic analysis can be solved using FEA, in this course only static analysis will be covered.

In this course, there will be an introduction to the Finite Element in order to modelling biological structures and understand how they worked. It will cover all the steps involved in FEA (for static analysis) starting from the creation or reconstruction of the model, how to define the material properties of biological structures, the use of a consistent Mesh Generation Methods and finally, how understand the results obtained in a computational simulation.

After the theoretical introduction we will build and analyse 2D and 3D finite element models of skeletal elements and deepen on the methods and software’s required performing FEA. The first part will be focused in medical image reconstruction of the model, starting from the images from a CT scan to finally obtain a suitable CAD model to be solved in a FEA package. The second part will consist of a biological example where the theoretical contents of the Introduction to Biomechanics and Finite Element Analysis course will be applied. Key questions as mesh size, boundary conditions, applied forces, scaling and numerical singularities will be thoroughly addressed. The last day attendees will have opportunity for trying to analyse by themselves their own data or other examples with the help of both instructors.


Dr. Josep Fortuny instructor at Transmitting Science
Dr. Josep Fortuny

(Institut Català de Paleontologia Miquel Crusafont (ICP) and Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya, Spain).
Dr. Jordi Marcé-Nogué instructor at Transmitting Science
Dr. Jordi Marcé-Nogué
(Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya and Institut Català de Paleontologia Miquel Crusafont (ICP), Spain).

Course director:

Dr. Soledad De Esteban-Trivigno course director at Transmitting Science
Dr. Soledad De Esteban-Trivigno

(Transmitting Science, Spain).


Graduate or postgraduate degree in any Sciences discipline, basic knowledge of statistics and personal computers.

Participants will be required to bring their own personal laptop with the following minimum requirements: Windows, CoreI5 or equivalent, 4 GB RAM, 1 GB memory dedicated to the graphic card, 20 GB of hard disk space available. At the beginning of the course temporary licences for Rhinoceros, Avizo and ANSYS will be installed on each participant’s laptop, allowing them to work with their own data after class if necessary / desired. If you wish to attend but do not have access to a laptop which meets these specifications, please contact us at courses@transmittingscience.org.




1st Day.
An introduction to the use of Finite Element Analysis (FEA):
Mathematical model, features and practical procedure.

2nd Day.
Basic continuum mechanics: Stress, displacements, strain, constitutive equations and Failure criteria in elastic materials.

3rd Day.

Theoretical approach to Meshing:
Types of mesh. Mesh generation. How to evaluate a mesh (Quality and reliability). Recommendations for a good practice.

4th Day.
Defining Material Properties: Biomechanical properties of the bones to be used in FEA. Considerations for Non-lineal materials to understand the modelling of soft tissues.

5th Day.
2D Plane models reconstruction:
Steps for 2D models generation: Picture, digitized images (XY coordinates), generation of point cloud and obtaining the 2D model. Finite Element Analysis of simplified two-dimensional plane models of biological structures: Definition and characteristics of Plane Models. Implementation and interpretation of results. Comparative analysis.

6th Day.

3D models reconstruction:
Reconstruction of biological three-dimensional structures. From the real object to the 3D model. What is a CT-Scan. DICOM and other format files. 3D modelling. Generation of STL files. Preparing reconstructed three-dimensional models for being analysed in FEA packages. Getting the model ready to work. 3D Finite Element Mesh Techniques.

7th Day.
Keys in pre-process and post process: Assignment of boundary conditions, defining material properties. Interpreting results. Boundary conditions in 3D models (muscles, muscular insertions and analogues). Biological Implications.

8th Day.
Working with your own data.


- Rayfield EJ (2007) Finite Element Analysis and Understanding the Biomechanics and Evolution of Living and Fossil Organisms. Annual Review of Earth and Planetary Sciences, 35 (1): 541-576.

- Kupczik K (2008) Virtual biomechanics basic concepts and technical aspects of finite element analysis in vertebrate morphology. Journal of Anthropological Sciences, 86: 193-198.

- Moazen M, Curtis N, O’Higgins P, Jones MEH, Evans SE, Fagan MJ (2009) Assessment of the role of sutures in a lizard skull a computer modelling study. Proceedings of the Royal Society B, 276: 39-46.

- Dumont ER, Grosse IR, Slater GJ (2009) Requirements for comparing the performance of finite element models of biological structures. Journal of theoretical biology, 256 (1): 96-103.

- Fletcher TM, Janis CM, Rayfield EJ (2010) Finite Element Analysis of Ungulate Jaws: Can mode of digestive physiology be determined? Palaeontologica Electronia, 13 (3).

- Marcé-Nogué J, Fortuny J, Gil L, Galobart A (2011) Using Reverse Engineering to Reconstruct Tetrapod Skulls and Analyse its Feeding Behaviour, in Topping BHV, Tsompanakis Y, eds. Proceedings of the Thirteenth International Conference on Civil, Structural and Environmental Engineering Computing. Civil-Comp Press, Stirlingshire, United Kingdom, Paper 237 (pp. 1-12).

- Bright JA, Rayfield EJ (2011) The response of cranial biomechanical finite element models to variations in mesh density. The Anatomical Record, 294: 610-620.

- Fortuny J, Marcé-Nogué J, De Esteban S, Gil LL, Galobart A (2011) Temnospondyli bite club: Ecomorphological patterns of the most diverse group of early tetrapods. Journal of Evolutionary Biology, 24 (9): 2040-2054.

- Fortuny J, Marcé-Nogué J, Gil LL, Galobart A (2012) Skull Mechanics and the Evolutionary Patterns of the Otic Notch Closure in Capitosaurs (Amphibia: Temnospondyli). The Anatomical Record, 295 (7): 1134-1146.

- Lee HH (2012) Finite Element Simulations with ANSYS Workbench 14, SDC Publications.

- Lawrence KL (2012) ANSYS Workbench Tutorial Release 14, SDC Publications.

- Marcé-Nogué J, DeMiguel D, Fortuny J, De Esteban-Trivigno S, GIl L (2013) Quasi-homothetic transformation for comparing the mechanical performance of planar models in biological research. Palaeontologia Electronica, 16: 15p. http://palaeo-electronica.org/content/2013/468-quasihomothetic-transformation.

- Reddy JN, An Introduction to Continuum Mechanics, Texas A & M University.

- Morris A, A Practical Guide to Reliable Finite Element Modelling, John Wiley & Sons.


You will find below some testimonials from former participants to previous editions of this course:

Transmitting Science Avatar“The FEA courses give an elementary introduction to this complex and interdisciplinary research field, and offer the possibility to learn to use sophisticated software under instruction (in a very pleasant atmosphere), which is always much easier than doing it by oneself. The courses are also a good opportunity to meet students working on related topics, who often face similar problems – a perfect basis to find solutions together and get into contact with (future) colleagues from around the world. Furthermore, the attendance of the FEA courses was really helpful for me because I met experienced instructors and had the chance to discuss my projects and optimize my work flow.”
Janina Dynowski, Staatliches Museum für Naturkunde Stuttgart, Germany (1st Edition).

Marta Pina former participant at Transmitting Science“A really useful course! Everything explained by the instructors is also practiced during the classes so you can apply it afterwards for your own data. Moreover, the instructors are always willing to answer any question you have about the lessons and about how to build and process your models. The organisation of the course is also an additional point because you don’t need to be worried about anything (technically and personally).”
Marta Pina, Institut Català de Paleontologia Miquel Crusafont (ICP), Spain (1st Edition).

More Testimonials.


For further information contact: courses@transmittingscience.org.


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We accept donations, which would be entirely devoted to support students without financial resources so that theymay offset the cost of participating in our courses and workshops.