Finite element analyses (FEA) have emerged as a process for assessing stresses and strains in electronic equipment in order to compute the expected structural life. However, potential pitfalls may compromise accuracy. Guidelines have been established to improve the accuracy of these results. A method has been outlined that allows simplified linear FEAs to be used instead of the more complex elastic-plastic nonlinear FEA. Guidelines for mesh generation have been established to eliminate arithmetic errors caused when materials with large stiffness differences are adjacent to each other. The accuracy of FEAs when dealing with very small dimensions has been verified. Procedures for combining various loadings in order to predict life have been established for materials that exhibit stress relaxation and for those that do not. With these guidelines, FEAs can be an effective tool to predict the structural life of electronic equipment.

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