The Windows interface in MSC/NASTRAN has a menu bar where all commands can be accessed. Menus drop down to dialog boxes where user input is requested. Coordinate entries and entity IDs can be input with the keyboard or selected from the model using the cursor.
A toolbar provides a graphical interface to some of the most commonly used commands. These commands include impressive dynamic rotation, panning, and zooming of the model. A nice feature is the user-definable toolbox, which gives users additional graphical access to the commands they use most.
| SPEC BOX MSC/NASTRAN for Windows MSC/NASTRAN for Windows is a finite element program capable of performing static stress, buckling, and normal modes analysis; steady state and transient heat transfer analysis; static and transient nonlinear structural analysis; and structural dynamic analysis. It includes a Windows-based pre- and post-processor for the creation and viewing of your finite element model. Minimum requirements: Windows 3.1, 386 with math-coprocessor, 16M bytes of RAM and 100M bytes of free disk space.
List price: Prices range from $995 to $4,995, depending on capabilities.
MacNeal-Schwendler Corp., 815 Colorado Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90041; ph: (213) 258-9111; FAX: (213) 259-3838.
The menus, toolbars, and toolboxes are easy to use and are a benefit in learning the program. They, along with a generous amount of hot keys, help speed the modeling process. However, I found moving down the multiple menus and dialog boxes to be somewhat time consuming. I would have liked the option of inputting commands directly using a command line.
Modeling capabilities. Elements can be created using direct generation, from existing geometry, or automatically inside a given boundary. The program's element library, along with its ability to specify material properties, loadings, and boundary conditions, should enable users to effectively model most structures and operating conditions.Translators are available to bring in geometry and finite element data from most popular CAD and finite element programs. Neutral files, which can be used to transfer information from one version of MSC/NASTRAN to another, can be exported. In addition, the solvers can be executed on any computer platform running MSC/NASTRAN.
The same interface used for model creation is used for viewing the results. Model parameters and analysis output can be sorted and listed in the format of your choice. Graphical output includes: deformation plots, contour plots, animation, criteria plots, isosurface plots, section cuts, and XY plotting of selected output. Animation and contouring can be combined, displaying contours animating in-sync with the displacements. Both the listed and graphical output can be copied to the Windows clipboard, to a file, or output to a printer.
Documentation. Included documentation will allow the user to learn to operate the program. However, there was not enough documentation to give the user a deep understanding of the program's workings. Information such as when to use what type of element and under what conditions these elements are accurate is not included. Nor is there any discussion of the solution-techniques used by the program to solve the models. I believe this type of information is essential in order to fully understand the accuracy of the results. By contrast, accolades are in order for the program's context- sensitive on-line help. It can be accessed at any time and includes a complete reference to all program features.
With its modeling and analysis features, MSC/NASTRAN for Windows offers the engineer a powerful analysis tool. Better documentation along with the option of inputting commands directly using a command line would be welcome additions. But the program shines in its ease of use, its listing and sorting of data, and in its ability to export data and graphics to the Windows clipboard, a file, or printer.
A similar product:
NISA - Engineering Mechanics Research Corp., Box 696, Troy, MI 48099; ph (810) 689-0077; FAX: (810) 689-7479.