# Practical way to build element stiffness matrix for 3D FEM simulations

The element stiffness matrix in 3D FEM problems is build as follows:

$$K = \int\limits_{[-1,1]^3} B^T C B\, |J| \mathrm{d}r\, \mathrm{d}s\, \mathrm{d}t$$

The integral can be solved using e.g. Gauss quadrature method.

But for me it seems to computational expensive if you perform the above equation for, e.g., 500.000 hexahedral elements. Thus I was wondering if there is an additional approximation or something else done to reduce the computational effort.

Question: Is there some kind of approximation method used to solve the two matrix-matrix products as well as the determinant or are they computed explicitly for each element?

• I don't understand you question. Have you implemented stiffness matrices before? For example, in 1D. Apr 18, 2020 at 23:08
• Yes, I have implemented stiffness matrix befor as described in my post above. But for me it seems to computational expensive if you perform the above equation for e.g. 500.000 hexahedral elements. Thus I was wondering if there is an additional approximation or something else done to reduce the computational effort. Apr 19, 2020 at 7:19
• @vydesaster -- take a look at the tutorials of any of the large finite element libraries. They all do essentially this. It's a small fraction of what it costs to solve a linear system with the large matrix $K$. Apr 20, 2020 at 20:45