Commercial finite element modeling codes have evolved over the past few decades into very user friendly environments, easily handling the many complications of finite element simulation. The significant steps of model generation (preprocessing), problem solution (analysis) and results viewing (post-processing) are easily handled for most of the typical finite element problems. However, there are still occasions when the necessary solution requirements fall outside the capabilities of any single finite element code. In this case, it is beneficial to the engineer to use some of the features of the commercial code, filing in the gaps with custom engineered software. This is especially true for the field of rotordynamics. In this paper, several of the complications involved in the finite element simulation of rotordynamics are discussed, and methods for leveraging the strengths of both commercial and custom engineered software are provided. The objective is to assist the practical engineer in the simulation of more complicated rotordynamic systems, including transient non-linear systems and three-dimensional coupled rotor-structure interaction systems.

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