In this article an FEA workflow based on CAD geometry in the form of STEP files and gmsh for mesh generation and CalculiX as the solver will be discussed. This workfloe is primarily suited for isotropic materials.
If one is working with FreeCAD, the FEM workbench enables a similar workflow, if gmsh and CalculiX are installed. But the author prefers this method because it makes the details of the process more transparent and accessible.
All the software used here is freely available. On UNIX-like systems (e.g. FreeBSD, Linux) it can generally be installed by the native package manager. Installing the prerequisites under ms-windows is outside the scope of this article.