Historically the average engineer has had very limited access to powerful analytical tools such as finite element modeling and kinematics. These tools have been relegated to the realm of the specialist who serves as a consultant to the design process. Historically substantial barriers including cost, difficulty of use, and computer illiteracy prevented the average engineer from having direct access to these tools. Unfortunately these specialists rarely have been able to perform timely analysis on routine design problems. As a consequence engineers either overdesigned to compensate for lack of knowledge or engaged in lengthy and costly testing of prototypes to verify their designs.
This paper describes an integrated MCAE system running on a desktop platform that enables the average mechanical engineer to visualize and evaluate their concepts, to simulate the behavior of their designs, to examine more design alternatives, and to distribute these designs in machine readable form to downstream applications. Specifically this system supports visualization through shaded images and hidden line removed views, mass and section property calculations, interference/clearence studies, finite element analysis, kinematics, annotation, and stereolithography.