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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Several apps that are ideal in a mobile setting are shown in the slide show (slides #4, #8, #9, #10 and #11). These apps are very useful when available at your fingertips during a meeting or field activity. Websites that are formatted for mobile devices also meet these needs and should be discussed too. http://AnalysisChamp.com is a great example of a site with advanced calculation and unit converter capabilities that is formatted for a mobile device and free to use any time.
I just discovered this one, but not sure about its utility...at least it was free?
Mechanical engineers sometimes need to deal with HVAC types of issues and that means dealing with the pyschrometric charts to figure out how much water is in the air and how much cooling you can get...etc
Reets Drying Academy has made a specialized app for this kind of general purpose although it is specific to his terminology and application for water damage professionals. It's worthy to note. There's always room for other apps in the same flavor.
this is more of a recommendation for a future app for iPad:
A potentially awesome app would be if someone would take the time to build an iPad app for stress and strain types of problems. Using Roark's Stress and Strain as a guide would be a good start. It's a huge catalog of closed-form solutions to common and weirdly recurring stress and strain problems. For those who do nuts and bolts kind of mechanism evaluations, this would be priceless. The iPad is very graphic so the pictures of the different setups with the variables clearly illustrated would be easily doable. The user could just punch in the input variables and get an answer dumped out quickly, then adjust the values as needed to get the right answer for the specific job. Many stress/strain kinds of problems can be simplified so that you don't need a full-blown FEA model.
Most of the time, your boss won't want you to spend that kind of time getting that kind of accuracy if it's a fairly inconsequential issue.
For those of us who are mechanical engineers, I have a few recommendations to offer for good iPad apps. I echo the earlier sentiment about how most apps for iPad are more for novelty than utility. I'm happy to include a few exceptions to the rule.
One is called "IntSteamTable" for International Steam Tables. Although you have to pay a fee for it, I have used it a lot! I highly recommend it for those trying to do powerplant calculations or other types of analysis requiring quick and accurate answers from steam tables. It's based on the IAPWS-IF97 tables which are fairly common. I was VERY impressed and have found it VERY useful. iPad apps for engineering are not always this robust.
Another is called "Compressible" which is a calculator for isentropic compressible flow relations, normal and oblique shock, Fanno and Rayleigh types of flow. For the aerospace engineer, it's an awesome tool to have as I recently had cause to dig up my aerospace chops to get a valve problem solved. This is an iPhone app that is stretched to fit the iPad. (Anyone else find that annoying? having to stretch an iPhone app into iPad... )
thanks for the sliderule app recommendation (speaking of geek novelties). I have one made by TestTubeGames. I'll check out the other one.
iPADs and the like are media consumption devices. They are not good at creating (where KB/Mouse is the most productive input dev)
We use iPADs on our factory floor for work instructions where they view PDFs on our network. My wife and I each have one. She reads books and posts on facebook. I browse the net and watch TV (usually in Bed).
The new iPAD3 display is stunning.
One of my pet peeves is the computer industry has gone backwards in monitor resolution. ie Try getting a 1920x1200 screen now in a laptop. The highest you can now get is 1920x1050, and most laptops are 1366x768 or some similar miserable resolution. I would dearly love 300DPI monitors. (I know one of the issues is windows doen't do vector scaling)
As the industry has grown and adapted to the various types of automation and motion control solutions, achieving the desired result with the least cost and effort on behalf of the user has always been the top priority.
Engineers are looking more to metal matrix and ceramic matrix composites to solve design & materials problems in thermal management and lighten up industrial turbines and jet engines, as well as traditional aerospace & defense uses.
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