## Best program for calculations in mechanical engineering

## Best program for calculations in mechanical engineering

The company I work for only uses excell to do calculations. For most simple calculations Excel works fine and for calculations that have to be repeated a lot of times Excel works great once you really get to know all it's possibilitys. As a mechanical engineer, having to name units in seperate cells, transform every time you go from kilo to Mega and having to doublecheck everything because excell wouldn't know what a Newton is gets quite annoying though. Also excel's disability to plot graphs (without first having to explain what dots it should be connecting) is a quite tiresome. Because of all this a lot of my colleagues I'm trying to figure out what would be the best software we could be using.

**Wishlist**

I'm basically looking for a program that (in order of importance):

- Can be used algebraricly (define quantities, define formula(s), get answer for unknown quantity/quantities
- Understands (metric) units
- Works fast (requires a minimum amount of mouse usage)
- Is able to plot graphs of functions
- Works intuitively

**MathCad**

I have some experience with a very early MathCad version (2001i) and I've tested MathCad prime 1.0 for a short while. In general I really like the way units can easily be converted and calculated with. In 2001i I especially liked that (once I knew what keys to use) I could really work fast and keep on typing formulas. Whilst I really liked the speed in which it could be used, the thing I really missed in 2001i was a bit of intuitive design and ease of use. When I used Prime 1.0 in my opinion they really tried to copy the microsoft way of interacting with the software in stead of making it as intuitive as advertised. Yes it looks good but working with quantity for example names I found to be really really timeconsuming. When I wanted to enter a single quantity or a several quantitys into an equation like

*F*in 2001i I only had to type"F.1[spacebar]:10N" if my memory is correct. With mathcad prime I had to do something like type "F", select subscript with mouse, type "1", deselect subscript with mouse and so on. If there is an easyer way it surely feels like the developers tried really hard to hide it from me... Does anyone know if Prime 2.0 has improved on this? Perhaps we should be using a later pre-prime version like 15? We don't really need the full power of this program, but I really like it's approach.

_{1}=10*N**Mathematica**

I've seen some demonstrations of Wolfram Alpha's mathematica and this looks quite promising. Then again, so did mathcad Prime 1.0 untill I started using it. Perhaps this could be a good alternative?

**Other programs?**

Are there other programs that I haven't heard of and we could be using in stead?

At the moment I'm guessing MathCad 15 would be our best option. I'd like to hear others experiences first though.

Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Since I'm not a native speaker I'd appreciate feedback on my (British) English

## RE: Best program for calculations in mechanical engineering

## RE: Best program for calculations in mechanical engineering

-doesn't understand units

-can't really be used algebraically

I don't use mathcad myself but I seem to remember hearing about it making some big changes between 14 and 15. Make sure you read up on it before you decide which one(if any) you want.

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## RE: Best program for calculations in mechanical engineering

Maplesoft?http://www.maplesoft.com/

John R. Baker, P.E.Product 'Evangelist'

Product Engineering Software

Siemens PLM Software Inc.

Industry Sector

Cypress, CA

Siemens PLM:

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To an Engineer, the glass is twice as big as it needs to be.## RE: Best program for calculations in mechanical engineering

xnuke

"Live and act within the limit of your knowledge and keep expanding it to the limit of your life." Ayn Rand,

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## RE: Best program for calculations in mechanical engineering

One tool that's sort of both is TK Solver, which is a tabular format worksheet program, understands units (supposedly, but I've never used it), plots, etc. http://www.uts.com/ItemDetails.asp?ItemID=0100-50-...

Another option is SMath Studio, which is a free Mathcad alternative, but harder to use in my opinion, but FREE makes up for a lot of sins. http://www.smathstudio.com/

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## RE: Best program for calculations in mechanical engineering

http://newtonexcelbach.wordpress.com/2012/10/11/da...

The Units4Excel spreadsheet provides:

■User Defined Functions (UDFs) to convert between any listed units, including compound SI units.

■A UDF to evaluate any function entered as text, including evaluation of input and output units.

■Recognition of all standard SI prefixes.

■An extensive list of non-SI units, based on the Wikipedia unit conversion page.

■The ability to add any other units to the list.

I think a lot of it comes down to individual style of working and preferences. For those who like the spreadsheet approach I wouldn't dismiss it because it doesn't have units or work algebraically, because those things can be fixed.

Doug Jenkins

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## RE: Best program for calculations in mechanical engineering

Charting a Mathematical Function with Defined Names

http://newtonexcelbach.wordpress.com/2010/12/15/ch...

Doug Jenkins

Interactive Design Services

http://newtonexcelbach.wordpress.com/

## RE: Best program for calculations in mechanical engineering

As an alternative to the (excellent) Mathcad/Smath paradigm, there's the text and script based approach similar to but not as frightening as Mathematica, Matlab for the rich, and Octave/Maxima/SciLab for the meanies. These have the major advantage that they are easy to read and debug, but the initial learning curve is steeper than Mathcad. Of those 4 I'd be inclined to skip Maxima, the other three are robust and evolving.

They are units agnostic, which may be a deal breaker for you.

Cheers

Greg Locock

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## RE: Best program for calculations in mechanical engineering

@JohnBaker: Maple doesn't work with units right?

@ the rest: I'll check out your suggestions, some sound very promising :)

Since I'm not a native speaker I'd appreciate feedback on my (British) English

## RE: Best program for calculations in mechanical engineering

John R. Baker, P.E.Product 'Evangelist'

Product Engineering Software

Siemens PLM Software Inc.

Industry Sector

Cypress, CA

Siemens PLM:

UG/NX Museum:

To an Engineer, the glass is twice as big as it needs to be.## RE: Best program for calculations in mechanical engineering

1N/1mm^2the output would have to be:1*10^6Paor1MPaor at least:1N/mm^2From the information you´ve given me I can´t really tell if maple allows me to calculate with units.

Since I'm not a native speaker I'd appreciate feedback on my (British) English

## RE: Best program for calculations in mechanical engineering

Since I'm not a native speaker I'd appreciate feedback on my (British) English

## RE: Best program for calculations in mechanical engineering

TTFN

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## RE: Best program for calculations in mechanical engineering

Since I'm not a native speaker I'd appreciate feedback on my (British/technical) English

## RE: Best program for calculations in mechanical engineering

You forgot to end your message with "mate" so Quazoosl would understand you.

## RE: Best program for calculations in mechanical engineering

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## RE: Best program for calculations in mechanical engineering

## RE: Best program for calculations in mechanical engineering

I posted some additional details in the PTC: Mathcad forum at http://www.eng-tips.com/viewthread.cfm?qid=334626

==========

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## RE: Best program for calculations in mechanical engineering

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--Winston S. Churchill

## RE: Best program for calculations in mechanical engineering

I'm testing evaluation versions of both maple 16 and MC15. Although Mathcad works quite well Maple seems to be able to meet all of my requirements with the greatest ease. It just works so much more intuitively than mathcad.

## RE: Best program for calculations in mechanical engineering

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## RE: Best program for calculations in mechanical engineering

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## RE: Best program for calculations in mechanical engineering

"Unfortunately, they elected to make the basic SOLVE block a "premium" feature."

Well - the whole point of "Express" is to be a teaser - if they gave you access to the most powerful tools, there wouldn't be much incentive to buy a full licence!

http://julianh72.blogspot.com

## RE: Best program for calculations in mechanical engineering

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## RE: Best program for calculations in mechanical engineering

http://julianh72.blogspot.com

## RE: Best program for calculations in mechanical engineering

Funny you should mention the solve block. I was working on one yesterday in Mathcad 8 (modifying an old document for a new project) and decided to try it in Mathcad Express. OOPS!

Earlier this year I downloaded the one-month trial of Mathcad Prime 1.0/Mathcad 15. At ~$1.4k I had no plans to buy it, but I wanted to try it out. When a PTC rep called a couple months later to "make the sale" I told him that I couldn't justify the price for a program I used maybe 10 hours a month and that Mathcad 8 was continuing to serve my needs. I suggested that PTC re-adopt the old Mathsoft model of a two-tier program with reduced features for a reduced price. I told him I could justify a $300 program without programming and certain other features. I told him what I used and didn't use in Mathcad 8 (e.g. I haven't done a DifEq since college and that was long before Mathcad and I almost never use symbolics). The solve block is one of things I told him I used fairly often. I still think a $300 version with an intermediate set of features and functions would hit the sweet spot for most Mathcad afficianados.

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## RE: Best program for calculations in mechanical engineering

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## RE: Best program for calculations in mechanical engineering

Analysis and Design of arbitrary cross sectionsReinforcement design to all major codesMoment Curvature analysis

http://www.engissol.com/cross-section-analysis-des...

## RE: Best program for calculations in mechanical engineering

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## RE: Best program for calculations in mechanical engineering

I used Tk Solver in a DOS version. The thing I liked about TKS was if you knew 19 of 20 variables it would solve for the 20th. The 20th could be any one of the variables so you didnt have to re jig the equation to get a result. It also handled Boolean algerbra neatly. You could insert a gues and it would converge rapidly. Not sure how the Windows version stacks up. Probably the DOS engine with a fancy front end.

I hate spreadsheets as they are too hard to fault find and errors can creep in and you dont see them.

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## RE: Best program for calculations in mechanical engineering

@Stanier: Is MCP3 still heavy on the mouse usage? I'll look into that TK Solver you referred to, that program is new to me.

## RE: Best program for calculations in mechanical engineering

I like spreadsheets because they are flexible, intuitive, powerful, and are the quickest way to verify and fault find the output from other applications. With a couple of add-ins they will do all of the things listed in the OP. That doesn't mean that a spreadsheet is necessarily the best solution for any individual, but I wouldn't automatically dismiss them either.

Doug Jenkins

Interactive Design Services

http://newtonexcelbach.wordpress.com/

## RE: Best program for calculations in mechanical engineering

You might also look into are Python with SciPy, NumPy, & Matplotlib... that's what the cool kids are using these days. Actually, Python is a full-fledged programming language, so it's probably one of the most flexible tools for solving engineering problems out there. I can't say whether it's better or worse than Matlab because I haven't used it nearly as much, but it's open-source, free, and probably worth a try.Can be used algebraically (define quantities, define formula(s), get answer for unknown quantity/quantitiesBeing a programming language, you can do all of the above in Octave/Matlab. Admittedly, I don't often find myself having any great need for computer algebra software.

Understands (metric) unitsI'd recommend that you work in a consistent set of units when doing calculations, but there is an Octave package out there for doing conversions which may be helpful.

Works fast (requires a minimum amount of mouse usage)Octave is fast. Matlab is faster. When it comes to mouse usage, you can use whatever editor you want with Octave. I use VIM as my editor; takes some getting used to but it's extraordinarily powerful and customizable. You can set up syntax highlighting and autocompletion. Matlab's editor is also quite good and allows you to set up breakpoints and lots of other nifty features.

Is able to plot graphs of functionsBoth Octave and Matlab produce publication quality graphs (EPS, PDF, SVG, PNG, TIFF, etc). I sometimes find that Octave/gnuplot makes better plots than Matlab. Here's a plot that I made in Matlab to answer someone's question about Matlab elsewhere in Eng-tips:

Works intuitivelyI suppose intuitively is relative; powerful tools have learning curves. Still, once you get a handle on the language, the help files (especially for Matlab) are fantastic. If you need to learn how to use a new function, the help file will have a description of the function and usually several examples of how to implement it in code.

Some other good problem solving software:Excel (Excellent spreadsheet program, mentioned by others)

R-Project (Popular with statisticians; makes excellent plots)

Maxima (Computer algebra)

Good luck in your search. I hope you find some software that works well for you.