Catching Up to History: FEA and the Tesla Connection

There is little doubt that the popularity of scientist Nikola Tesla has been on the rise in recent years. For one reason or another, his name has moved from history’s back channels to the foreground. 

At American Hydroformers, we have a special respect for the erstwhile inventor, and not just because we find him a memorable and quirky genius. Having studied his methods, we recognize that he was able to accomplish something on his own that would take the rest of the scientific community roughly a century to catch up with.

That “something” is extensive pre-production analysis.

Whenever Tesla would have a fresh idea, before rushing to production, he would spend a great deal of time fine-tuning it.


When I get an idea, I start right away to build it up in my mind. I change the structure, I make improvements, I experiment, I run the device in my mind. It is absolutely the same to me whether I operate my turbine in thought or test it actually in my shop. It makes no difference, the results are the same. In this way, you see, I can rapidly develop and perfect an invention, without touching anything (Smithsonian).

To us, that sounds similar to today’s system of Finite Element Analysis (FEA), computer software used to refine prototypes prior to manufacturing. The computer model subjects the prototype to different scenarios, testing for flaws and weaknesses. (It’s not just used for prototypes, though: in case of structural failures, FEA may also help determine what modifications should be made to resolve the issue.)

What Tesla was doing in his head, computer science now allows us all to do in real-time. By running our prototypes through FEA software, we’re able to make pre-production changes that save us both time and money down the road.

Here at American Hydroformers, we fully encourage our clients to take advantage of FEA when possible. If you have questions or comments about this, or if you would like to chat about any of our other premium services, please feel free to contact us at any time. 

We look forward to hearing about your next project and serving you in whatever way we can.  

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