Mechanical Engineers are often perceived as people who do hands-on work to build automobiles or robots but in reality, they spend a significant amount of time in the office in front of the computer working on software as an essential part of their job.
Mechanical engineers need various software tools to accomplish their work efficiently and cost-effectively. Here are some essential categories of software programs that are commonly used by mechanical engineers:
- Computer Aided Design (CAD) Software
- Computer Aided Manufacturing (CAM) Software
- Computer Aided Engineering (CAE) / Simulation and Analysis Sofware
- Mathematical and Numerical Analysis Software
- Programming and Data Analysis Software
- Project Management and Documentation Software
Computer Aided Design (CAD) Software
CAD software is used by engineers to seamlessly conceptualize, design, analyze, and validate mechanical products. They facilitate mechanical engineers to Automate essential tasks such as design collaboration, comparing technical drawings, cost estimations, manufacturability checks, and data management. The use of these tools brings several benefits in the product development life cycle such as reduction in development time, reduction in design and development costs, and improvement in product quality.
Here is a list of the most popular CAD software used by mechanical engineers:
- Autodesk Inventor
- Creo (formerly Pro/ENGINEER)
- Siemens NX (formerly Unigraphics)
- Solid Edge
Computer Aided Manufacturing (CAM) Software
Computer Aided Manufacturing (CAM) is the use of software and computer-controlled machinery to automate a manufacturing process. Modern manufacturing can be classified into the following three steps:
- The CAD model is fed into the CAM software.
- The CAM software uses the CAD model to generate the instructions (toolpath) for the CNC machine
- The CNC machine creates the product using the toolpath and the raw material.
Here is a list of the most popular CAM software used by mechanical engineers:
- SolidWorks CAM
- Fusion 360 (includes both CAD and CAM capabilities)
- Solid Edge CAM
- NX CAM
Computer Aided Engineering (CAE) / Simulation and Analysis Software
Computer-aided engineering (CAE) is the use of computer software to simulate performance in order to improve product designs or assist in the resolution of engineering problems for a wide range of industries. This includes simulation, validation, and optimization of products, processes, and manufacturing tools.
CAE software allows prototyping and testing of thousands of design iterations without actually building the product prototype inside the lab. This saves a significant amount of time and resources during the product development.
Here is a list of the most popular CAE / Simulation software used by mechanical engineers:
Mathematical and Numerical Analysis Tools
These software programs aid in solving complex mathematical problems and performing numerical analysis, which are common in engineering calculations. With such software mechanical engineers can connect to hardware, acquire and read data, create mathematical models, visualize results, and simulate systems. Similarly, these tools provide features to do Image processing and computer vision, Artificial intelligence (AI), Robotics, and control systems.
Here is a list of the most popular Mathematical and Numerical software used by mechanical engineers:
Programming and Data Analysis Tools
Programming and data analysis software and tools play a crucial role in modern mechanical engineering, enabling engineers to solve complex problems, optimize designs, and make informed decisions.
- Python (with libraries like NumPy and SciPy)
- R (for statistical analysis)
- Microsoft Excel (for data manipulation and analysis)
- Google Sheets
Project Management and Documentation
Project management is an important component of a mechanical engineers day to day job. Engineers have to work in teams and regularly communicate their research, work progress, and problems to their teammates and managers. Project management and documentation tools help them stay organized and productive.
Here is a list of the most popular Project Management and Documentation software used by mechanical engineers:
Mechanical engineers rely on a diverse range of software tools to enhance their productivity, solve complex problems, and optimize designs. These software applications serve various purposes, such as computer-aided design (CAD), computer-aided manufacturing (CAM), computer-aided engineering (CAE), numerical analysis, data analysis, and project management.
Although these software are essential for mechanical engineers, they also require advanced computing machines to run smoothly. If you are a mechanical engineering student you may find our guide about the best laptop for mechanical engineering students useful.