A mix of utilities and CAD and automation tools characterizes our first roundup of engineering applications for the iPad.
In searching Apple's App Store, it's obvious that there's a lot of low-hanging technical fruit. Most notable is the plethora of engineering unit conversion programs. We've included a few we found of particular interest to mechanical and industrial engineers. There are also many apps of value only to captive users of a particular vendor's products; we've included some with widespread user bases.
Click the image below to view our slideshow of useful engineering apps:
This native viewer for the ubiquitous DWG CAD file format supports both 2D and 3D renditions. Usability features include pan and zoom. Files can be accessed via ftp or Dropbox. $3.99. Go here.
Clearly, our starter list isn't comprehensive. Still, we believe it's a good beginning. We're also interested in your favorites for a followup gallery. Please send your picks to me at email@example.com.
Nice slide show, Alex. Quite a range of apps, and it seems Siemens is particularly advanced in mobile apps. It's also encouraging that many of these companies are providing their apps at no charge. That's is a no-brainer, since customers are already spending considerable sums for the technology.
Thanks, Jack. It's interesting to me that, utlities excepted, many of these iPad apps are adjuncts to the real thing, rather than full-blown, standalone programs. I think that's a function of the data-entry limitations of the tablet form-factor.
I can definitely see usefulness of the Autodesk App for production floor use of CAD drawings. A lot of times it would be nice to have a good viewer for drawings that can be brought to meetings or to the production line.
I have to agree. Running any CAD routine, the bigger the screen you have, the easier it is to truly develop your design solution.As a design engineer its more necessity than luxury when designing on a 42” flat screen, or at least two adjacent screens.I just wouldn’t be comfortable driving a little tablet as my tool of choice, unless using it for just the processor then augmenting it with a larger display. Then I could always use my pocket-folding Targus QWERTY keypad I’ve had since 2001. Gotta have a keyboard.
Alex: I think the whole key to making the mobile platform successful is to figure out where the mobility equation fits in with the way engineers work--be it, on the road for design reviews with customers or going home at night and needing to finish a simulation--and creating apps to meet those specific needs. Given the significant graphics rendering and performance requirements of full-blown CAD modeling or simulation tools, I don't think any one is expecting the full tool to translate to the more limited processing and screen real estate of a mobile tablet or smart phone. There would be too many tradeoffs and it wouldn't fill a need--rather, it would just be pursuing technology for technology's sake.
Autodesk actually has the largest selection of mobile apps thus far and is taking the platform really seriously, particularly for its AEC segment.
As you noted, Beth, I've just mentioned one Autodesk mobile app, whereas there are actually more. Same deal with the other vendors. This is a starter list and I'll go with the suggestions to broaden and also to include Android in future iterations.
Well noted, Alex. And as far as Android goes, most companies are definitely planning to release for Android as well. Typically it's first up for Apple iOS and then Android follows in fairly short order.
For industrial control applications, or even a simple assembly line, that machine can go almost 24/7 without a break. But what happens when the task is a little more complex? That’s where the “smart” machine would come in. The smart machine is one that has some simple (or complex in some cases) processing capability to be able to adapt to changing conditions. Such machines are suited for a host of applications, including automotive, aerospace, defense, medical, computers and electronics, telecommunications, consumer goods, and so on. This discussion will examine what’s possible with smart machines, and what tradeoffs need to be made to implement such a solution.