FEM SolverElmer

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FEM SolverElmer.svg FEM SolverElmer

Menu location
Solve → Solver Elmer
Default shortcut
Introduced in version
See also
FEM Solver CalculiX, FEM Solver Z88, FEM tutorial


Elmer is an open source multiphysical simulation software mainly developed by CSC - IT Center for Science (CSC). Elmer development was started 1995 in collaboration with Finnish Universities, research institutes and industry. After it's open source publication in 2005, the use and development of Elmer has become international.

Elmer includes physical models of fluid dynamics, structural mechanics, electromagnetics, heat transfer and acoustics, for example. These are described by partial differential equations which Elmer solves by the Finite Element Method (FEM). https://www.csc.fi/web/elmer

Creating the SolverElmer object in the Analysis container in FreeCAD, gives access to the Elmer Equations for simple or multiphysical analysis.

Since FreeCAD already has an extensive integration of Calculix and Z88 as solvers for mechanical and thermo-mechanical analysis, Elmer will be preferred for Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD), Heat, Electrostatics, Magnetostatics and Electrical Forces. It can also be used for mechanical FEA through the Elasticity equation or any combination of the aforementioned equations.


Elmer requires two components to be interfaced with FreeCAD:

  • ElmerGrid is the interface handling meshes
  • ElmerSolver is handling the computation.

There are standalone programs for both of these applications but their installation and usage are beyond the scope of the FreeCAD integration.

  1. Go to the CSC binaries resources for Elmer: https://www.nic.funet.fi/pub/sci/physics/elmer/bin/ OR https://www.csc.fi/web/elmer/binaries
  2. Download and install the version best suited to your Operating System (Windows 64 bits or Linux)
  3. In FreeCAD go to Edit → Preferences → FEM → Elmer
  4. Link the correct path for both ElmerGrid and ElmerSolver
    Elmer Tab in FEM Preferences

    Above: Elmer preferences dialog menu showing fields to locate important Elmer binaries on Windows OS

You are ready to use Elmer in FreeCAD.


  1. Switch to the Workbench FEM.svg FEM Workbench
  2. Create an Analysis container by pressing the FEM Analysis.svg icon.
  3. Create a FEM Solver for Elmer, by pressing the FEM SolverElmer.svg icon.
    • Note: A successful analysis will require at least a Model (2D or 3D), a Material (Fluid or Solid), a Mesh, Equations and Boundary conditions
    Elmer typical file tree.png

    Above: Example of a tree view once a Solver for Elmer is activated

  4. Edit the parameters for the solver in the Property editor Data tab of the SolverElmer object in the model tree view
  5. Double-click on the FEM SolverElmer.svg SolverElmer object to prepare an analysis run
    ElmerSolver TaskPanel.png

    Above: Dialog box to run an Elmer analysis

  6. Select the path to write the analysis in by clicking ...
  7. Click Write to write the case files in the directory selected previously
  8. Click Run to start the analysis

About Equations

  • To perform the analysis of a particular physical behavior, an Equation must be used (Flow, Heat, Electrostatics...)
  • Disambiguation: The term "Equation" is used in FreeCAD to describe the different physical mechanisms, the term "Solver" is used in all Elmer document. Thus when using in FreeCAD the Flow Equation, in reality Elmer uses the Flow Solver to find a solution to the Navier-Stokes equation.
  • One or several Equations can be used at once with Elmer by simply adding the Equation object under the SolverElmer object, thus performing multi-physics analyses:
  1. Click on the FEM SolverElmer.svg SolverElmer object in the model tree view
  2. Select an equation:


  • Parameters for the Solver and for the Equations are independently set through the Property editor Data tab of their respective objects in the tree view.
  • Each equation will have a priority, for example, if trying see the effect of a convective flow of hot air, the equation for Flow should be solved with higher priority than Heat, otherwise the solver will first solve Heat through conduction and then Flow.
  • 2D vs 3D cases: Elmer can be used to solve both 2D and 3D cases. However, when defining a 2D case, the faces need to be mapped in the XY plane of FreeCAD, otherwise the solver will try to compute a 3D case on a face, and normal vectors will be under-defined. Further information can be found in the FreeCAD forums: https://forum.freecadweb.org/viewtopic.php?f=18&t=48175


The following link gives access to the full documentation for Elmer https://www.nic.funet.fi/pub/sci/physics/elmer/doc/ This includes the manuals as well as tutorials. Note that documentation and files appended with "gui" generally concern the usage of the Elmer GUI and not the FreeCAD implementation of Elmer.