THE FINITE ELEMENT METHOD is now widely used by industry for the prediction of stresses and the vibration behaviour of machines. Accuracy of prediction is continuing to improve as the technique develops and more and more computing power becomes available.In recent years, noise has been included in the number of constraints that the designers must consider and the finite element model is gradually being introduced as a tool to this end. However, the possession of an accurate tool for predicting the noise is not synonymous with the provision of a solution to the noise problem. Direct predictive techniques can only examine each solution considered by the designer on a trial-and-error basis, which can prove very expensive in computer time, particularly if a dynamic model is used. A method is therefore described by which a static finite element model can be optimised for minimum noise, if necessary within the constraints imposed by existing manufacturing plant, by an automatic iterative procedure. In this way, the most efficient solution to a noise problem can be rapidly obtained.