A significant component of mechanical engineering is analysis.
Engineers must study and think about problems and come up with solutions.
Thankfully, excellent software programs facilitate accurate data collection, precise analysis, and quick problem-solving.
Depending on your specific job position and the tasks, you may prefer one analysis tool over another.
Use this handy guide to find out the best software for you.
When looking for the best analysis software for mechanical engineering, it is crucial to pay attention to key elements.
These factors include purpose, key features, limitations, and ease of learning.
If these elements match your needs, you have found the perfect analysis tool.
Find all this important information below as you explore the top 5 software used by mechanical engineers.
Ansys Mechanical is a Finite Element Analysis (FEA) software.
The primary purpose is to gather relevant information and predict how a machine will hold up against real-world conditions and forces.
It shows mechanical engineers if their design works properly or breaks quickly as a real product.
Engineers can use Ansys alongside CAD software to improve 3-D models.
Ansys offers advanced features, including:
- Linear dynamic analysis
- Behavior simulation for multiple types of materials
- Component contact capabilities
- Parametric, mesh shape, and topology optimization
- Heat conduction, convection, and radiation simulation
- Wide range of hydrodynamic analysis capabilities
- Fluid and solid interaction simulation
- Fatigue life analysis
- Crack and fracture analysis
- Customized workflows, automated tasks, and sharing opportunities
Ansys is an excellent choice for experienced mechanical engineers, however, it is not suitable for beginners.
While it allows for in-depth analysis and predictions, users need to understand what they are looking for and what information they need to perform a thorough and accurate analysis.
Additionally, Ansys will take time to solve complex problems or perform functions such as mesh creation or rendering.
Learning to use Ansys Mechanical is challenging.
It is best for experienced mechanical engineers, as it requires an underlying knowledge of mechanical engineering and analysis tasks.
It may be easier to learn by taking the official training offered by Ansys.
If Ansys Mechanical does not meet your needs, SimScale is a worthy alternative.
It is a Finite Element Analysis (FEA), Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) software, an excellent choice to solve structural, fluid-flow, and thermal problems.
SimScale also offers many customized solutions for specific types of machines or projects, such as HVAC, heat pumps, or global syncs.
Similar to Ansys, it can also integrate with popular CAD software.
SimScale is advantageous for its wide range of features, such as:
- Wide-range model analysis, including static, dynamic, and vibrational analyses
- Design validation from multiple platforms and devices
- Fluid dynamics simulations and precise resolutions
- Heat transfers, convection, and conduction simulations
- Automated tasks and sharing options
- Access to an engineering community, learning resources, and templates
- Ability to process multiple designs while working on others
Depending on the project’s complexity, most FEA software can suffer from lengthy loading times.
Although SimScale is cloud-based, certain workflows will still take time to process.
Several users also report issues with importing models, signaling a need for engineers to double-check their work.
SimScale is easy to learn and use, mainly because Simscale offers many learning resources on its official website.
Beginners, even mechanical engineering students, can benefit from using an analysis tool like Simscale.
Since you do not need to download or install software, it is even more advantageous for students or recent graduates.
MatLab is a staple in many mechanical engineers’ toolkits.
It is one of the best programs for precise numerical calculations, analyses, visualization, and simulations.
It can help solve many different problems regarding machines and their components.
Engineers can also use it to verify research findings through tests and simulations.
The top MatLab Features for mechanical engineers are:
- High-level programming allows for the analysis and design of control systems, signal processing, function optimization, and machine learning.
- Wide range of mathematical functions ideal for numerical or statistical analyses.
- Specific tools to analyze the behavior of elements such as thermodynamics
- Finite element analysis and structural analysis
- Solutions for rotational and matrix problems for robotics
- Access to an active community of engineers, data scientists, and mathematics experts
While MatLab is a popular choice for many mechanical engineers, new users must remember it is a programming language.
Since this is the case, they will need to learn to use and write in MatLab to accomplish their tasks.
On top of this, users must pay a licensing fee and purchase modules separately, which may be a significant deterrent.
Recently, many mechanical engineers move away from MatLab and into Python for this reason.
MatLab is relatively easy to learn and use, especially if you use other programming languages.
Many universities require engineering students to learn how to use MatLab during their undergraduate degrees.
If you prefer to learn on your own time, there are many online courses dedicated to this software. Check out MathWorks, Coursera, and Udemy for popular choices.
Ansys Fluent is a Computational Fluid Analysis (CFD) software essential for mechanical engineers analyzing or predicting fluid behaviors or interactions.
If machines run on, incorporate, work with, or come into contact with liquids of any kind, CFD software is necessary.
With Ansys Fluent, engineers can create, analyze, and optimize product designs.
Users can take advantage of these main features:
- Battery simulation, age and life prediction, and temperature analysis
- Electric motor cooling solutions
- Turbulence modeling
- Gas, liquid, solid, particle, and multi-phase flows
- Combustion models and applications
- Fluid and solid interaction simulations
- Fast processing and problem-solving
Similar to other Ansys tools, Ansys Fluent is for seasoned engineers.
Students and novices will find it challenging to learn the processes and understand the outcomes.
Furthermore, without a high-speed computer with adequate storage, it will run complex problems slowly.
It is challenging to learn Ansys Fluent.
If you have a substantial knowledge and experience of mechanical engineering, it will be much easier to understand.
Ansys training can be helpful and it is easily accessible through their official website.
OpenFOAM is primarily Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) software but it also incorporates Finite Element Analysis (FEA) and Computer-Aided Engineering (CAE).
While it is an excellent jack-of-all-trades option, its best feature is that it is a free, open-source program.
Since this is the case, it is a perfect choice for students or recent mechanical engineering graduates.
Users will be happy to take advantage of these features:
- Fluid dynamics and physical modeling, such as turbulence modeling, thermophysical modeling, dynamic meshes, heat transfer, thermal flows, and rotating flows for robotics.
- Rigorous data analysis options through advanced visualization, graphics, and data.
- Mesh generation, conversion, and manipulation.
- Numerical problem and system solving.
- Library of functions
- Parallel computing capabilities
- Drawing and 3-D modeling tools
- Updates every six months
- Open-source element allows for customization
OpenFOAM is an excellent analysis software, however, there is one major limitation.
It does not have a graphical user interface (GUI), making it more challenging to navigate and use efficiently.
Since this is the case, learning and using OpenFOAM is more difficult.
Compared to popular commercial analysis software, OpenFOAM is harder to learn.
However, if you can grasp the fundamentals behind CFD software, you will learn OpenFOAM in no time.
Start by learning oriented C++ programming languages and running OpenFOAM tutorials.
It will be a steep learning curve, especially since there are no official guides or courses offered on this software yet.
Mechanical engineers need excellent analysis tools to design and develop efficient machines and components.
Although all the above software programs are top-tier, finding a tool that meets your specific needs and goals is essential.