The Benefits of Real-Life Tests
Why should I use strain gage sensors when I have an FEA model of my part?
Computer models are useful tools for predicting structural performance, but they only tell part of the story. Strain sensor testing is performed to correlate the actual response of the part to test inputs with the generated computer model. Many uncontrollable realities can affect the FEA model, including complex structural design (not easily modeled), insufficient FEA mesh density, unknown or unaccounted for residual stresses in the part (often caused by the manufacturing and/or assembly processes), errors in material constants, unexpected interactions from other assemblies, and uncertainty in the applied loads (inaccurate boundary conditions). Perhaps one of the best questions to ask concerning strictly analytical design (no experimental verification) is: Would you want to ride on an airplane that had no design requirements verified by physical measurement (only computer-generated data was used to qualify the plane)?