Tools for Mechanical Design Engineers
Machine design has been one of the most challenging jobs for engineers since time immemorial. Unlike today, people used 2D drawings to design the parts. With the advancement in technology, we are now able to bring our design living in our imagination to a visual form and test for the feasibility of design in terms of strength, durability, and manufacturability. This post explains the two most popular tools used by mechanical design engineers to bring their imagination into a working reality.
To successfully complete a design, engineers need two basic tools viz. 3D modeler and a simulator. So this post is about the most popular 3D modeling software “SolidWorks” and the widely used Simulation tool “Ansys”.
SolidWorks is 3D modeling (Solid modeling and surface modeling) computer-aided design(CAD) software, published by Dassault Systemes, the same company which is the publisher of “CATIA“. Apart from 3D modeling SolidWorks also features SolidWorks Simulation tools such as static, thermal etc, SolidWorks flow Simulation tool and SolidWorks Motion Study.
Most widely, SW is famous for its easy to use user-interface which makes 3D modeling very easy as compared to other similar software. SW is mainly used for solid modeling and is generally not preferred for surface modeling making it suitable for not so complex product design. Here are some models from our design library for reference:
Here is a brief description of three modules that SW provides, namely Part, Assembly and Drawing.
Part modeling, as the name suggests, is 3D modeling of parts to be assembled into a product or products with a single part. In part modeling, you can do solid modeling as well as surface modeling (even both combined in same part).
Basically, SW tools have been categorized into different Command Managers which offer different tools for modeling. Some of the important Command managers include Sketch, features, surface, weldments and Sheet metal. You can easily understand them once you start using SW.
Another great part of SW is Assembly creation. In this module, basically, you cannot design any part, but can only assemble the parts which are already designed. To assemble the various parts you need to give a relation between parts like concentric for circular parts, coincident for any point, line or face etc.
The best use of this module is that you can check your assembly for any interference, feasibility and also you can study the motion that the assembly will follow.
Now comes the final phase in designing: converting your 3D model to a drawing for manufacturing related purpose.
You see how the flow of design is going to SolidWorks. First part modeling, then assembly and finally creating its drawing.
In SW drawing you can easily convert any view of your model into a 2D drawing and that too with dimensions.
Not only this, you can create a sheet with all 3 orthogonal views included just as you did in your engineering drawing classes.
One thing that you can’t do in SW drawing is creating 2D drawings as you do in AutoCAD.
You can know more about this awesome software by start using it. You can contact us for any assistance.
Now comes one of the most powerful tools available in the world of designing, without which designing is incomplete. Ansys: Ansys was found in 1970 by John Swanson. At the time when Ansys was developing, scientists use to perform Finite Element Analysis by hand.
Ansys has got several analysis systems in its toolbox each for a different kind of simulation. Static Structural for static forces, Fluid flow for CFD, Modal Analysis for vibration etc.
But before simulation, let’s talk about “Ansys Design Modeler”, a tool developed by Ansys for precision modeling. Generally, whenever a design is made, it is first modeled in a 3D CAD software just like SolidWorks and then imported to simulation software by means of using some common file format like .step, .igs etc. But this transition often causes some deterioration of solid model in terms of accuracy, surface, nodes and other parameters. Thus Ansys has its own design Modeler which can be used to model an object to be simulated with high precision. People usually do no consider modeling in Ansys, rather they prefer the former method because Ansys Design Modeler is not so user-friendly. The best part of design modeler is that you can import your external CAD file into it and make minor changes to perform iterations.
For any new person in the field of designing, it is very important to understand that what he/she should expect from simulation software in terms of the result.
Many people have a myth that these software will show an animation of how the object is breaking or you can literally see the flow of fluid just as shown in movies.
This is not what you will get if you simulate in Ansys or any other FEA software. These are simulated in other software like Blender or Unity 3D.
This is what you will get when you simulate in any FEA Software. Results in the form of numeric data, from which you have to infer whether your design is up to the mark or not.
To perform analysis in FEA one must have a clear view of applying boundary conditions. Boundary Conditions is like applying limits to integration, if put wrong, no matter how correctly you solved the problem, you will not get an appropriate result.
Thus designing is not just an artwork, but it involves science to its core. With so many advanced tools available in this world, designing has become the heart of any product development, and why not, it saves so much amount by reducing the cost of physical testing.
Out of all the tools in the market, I personally prefer SolidWorks and Ansys, they are the best tools that can be used for a large variety of applications and by any level of institution.
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