Engineers like Excel for the simplicity in doing quick calculations and developing spreadsheets. But forget about it when it comes to managing those calculations or gaining any insight behind the numbers—two tasks that the software application Mathcad does very well, though its learning curve is somewhat steeper. But that ability to capture the thinking process of engineers is becoming increasingly important to some companies who are looking for ways to capture the engineering calculations in large projects and document the inputs, assumptions, and methods behind them, says Allen Razdow, senior vice president of products and services and cofounder of Mathsoft. "Companies are beginning to realize that a calculation is not an island, and that it's important to know where a number came from and what thinking went into it." To wit, his company just landed a major contract with Lockheed Martin, who is adopting Mathcad as a standard design tool for all structural calculations for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Project, the largest military contract in history. With a budget of $4B, there's bound to be plenty of number crunching. New features of Mathcad, such as the ability to deploy content over a web browser, is bound to make that process a bit more manageable.
Altair has released an update of its HyperWorks computer-aided engineering simulation suite that includes new features focusing on four key areas of product design: performance optimization, lightweight design, lead-time reduction, and new technologies.
At IMTS last week, Stratasys introduced two new multi-materials PolyJet 3D printers, plus a new UV-resistant material for its FDM production 3D printers. They can be used in making jigs and fixtures, as well as prototypes and small runs of production parts.
In a line of ultra-futuristic projects, DARPA is developing a brain microchip that will help heal the bodies and minds of soldiers. A final product is far off, but preliminary chips are already being tested.
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