Friday, June 12, 2009

Free Engineering Software and Spreadsheet Links

Free Engineering Software and Spreadsheet Links

Spreadsheets and computer programs are very useful tools in engineering. I really enjoy writing spreadsheets and usually write a spreadsheet if I begin performing calculations or designs that I'll have to repeat in the future. These sort of tools make it so I don't have to "reinvent the wheel" when I encounter the same problem again. Writing a spreadsheet may take a little more time in the beginning of a project, but I generally find that it decreases the overall length of the project by quite a bit.

Sometimes, however, there are already free programs or spreadsheets available on the internet. Below is a list of links to websites that provide free engineering programs or spreadsheets. I have found that even if I want to purchase a commercial program, it pays to use the trial version thoroughly and find out if the program is right for my purposes.

Eng-Tips Forums: This website is a great resource for engineers. Here is a link to their page of Engineering spreadsheet links. The description on their website reads, "Some of our spreadsheets are free to download, and are fully working, whilst others must be purchased. However even with these, we allow you to download a partially working demo version, so that you may test it and see if it meets your requirements, before purchase."

Engineer's Tool Kit: According to their site, it is comprised of free engineering tools, references and news for structural and stress engineers. Almost everything there is free to use and download.

Find there: Free engineering software, spreadsheets and programs, references to books for stress analysis, fatigue, dynamics, etc. Reports, requirements and manuals for free download or consulting. Free software download on the toolkit links to material data, technical reports, unit conversions, etc. News for engineering professionals, videos and more. This is their website claim: "This web site contains a collection of engineering spreadsheets for structural analysis and design of concrete and steel structures. The programs have been developed by practicing professional engineers with emphasis on productivity, dependability, and clarity. To insure quality of the spreadsheets we have comprehensively compared analysis results to leading commercial software products and found them to be accurate." Their Related Websites page has many more links to helpful software and spreadsheet sites.

Jocelyn Ireson-Paine This website is titled "How to Document a Spreadsheet: an Exercise with Cash-Flow and Loans." According to Ms. Ireson-Paine, she has "developed software that generates spreadsheets from equations written using meaningful names rather than cell addresses. For example, deflection_at_unsupported_end = load * (length)^3 / 8 * E * I instead of A4 = A1 * A2^3 / 8 * C1 * C2 This avoids errors caused by motion slips and typos in cell coordinates, and provides a set of readable equations that can be used as documentation." (The software is described in her Dr. Dobbs article How to Document a Spreadsheet: an Exercise with Cash-Flow and Loans , . This shows it being used to specify and write a financial spreadsheet.) She claims that, "Because it reduces errors, this approach is safer than coding directly in Excel." This website has freeware and shareware for Finite Element Analysis, Mechanical Engineering, Electrical Engineering, and CAD.

Ian Elle Samonte: He has a great collection of links for free structural design and analysis software on his website. Their Bridge Engineering Software page has many links. The programs listed are not all free, but there are quite a few that are. They are clearly marked "Free!" in red.

David Childs Ltd: The introduction to the spreadsheets reads, "These are a selection of simple spread sheet proformas which I have found useful in the repetitive calculations needed in some of the design/assessment calculations. The proformas were written using Microsoft Excel. The Worksheets have been compressed to zip folders." He has programs for loading & analysis, steelwork, concrete, composite, and geometry. This is a free Concrete Design and Batch spreadsheet. The description is as follows: "Comprehensive Excel spreadsheet for concrete mix design and batching. Can save up to 100 mixes. Unique easy to use features for proportioning aggregates etc. Up to six aggregates, four cements and five admix can be blended in any one mix. Sieve analysis can be entered for up to twelve course and fine aggregates. Combined grading is graphed as you design a mix. Aggregate moisture can be adjusted and batch weights produced." This site has a free Post-Tensioned Concrete Design Spreadsheet Program. Description: "This spreadsheet program provides for the design and analysis of post-tensioned concrete one-way beam and slab systems and two-way flat plate slab systems. The program is divided into three separate screens, which correspond to the three major areas of concern in the design of a post-tensioned member. These categories are: Service Stress Analysis, Ultimate Moment Strength and Ultimate Beam Shear Analysis. This last category is further subdivided into a supplemental screen for the design and analysis of combined Ultimate Beam Shear and Torsion. Although the Service Stress and Ultimate Moment Strength portions of the program are capable of analyzing both one-way beams and slabs and two-way flat plates, the Ultimate Shear and Shear/Torsion portions of the program are intended for the analysis of one-way beams only. All ultimate strength analysis portions of the program are intended for unbonded post-tensioned systems only."

Techno Consultants Ltd.: This is their homepage statement: "As part of our policy to pool, share and grow expertise this site contains specialized applications for use in the building trade. Subject to the conditions outlined in our Disclaimer, we welcome you to download software for your study, research and business use. This is a list of Excel spreadsheets. Some are free--some are not.

Spreadsheets for Structural Engineering: This page contains some good links to helpful spreadsheets. The limited versions of these spreadsheets are free to download. The professional versions must be purchased. The website description reads: "This web site provides structural design spreadsheets, which created using Microsoft Excel. Each spreadsheet contains formulas, reference code sections, and graphic drawings. The Example is intended for re-use and is loaded with floating comments as well as ActiveX pull-down menus for variable choices. All intermediate calculations are intended for submittal with the calculations to explain the results of the input. It is free to download, by click software name, for limited version." This appears to be a very comprehensive collection. These are free structural software links described as: "Free structural software? Is there such a thing? It is just knowing where to look. There are quite a few places now to obtain software. This page contains information on where to obtain free programs and fully working programs that the Author allows you to evaluate. All the software is fully working and no unusable or time limited demos are listed here." A "must have" FREE collection shared for Reinforced Concrete Council - RC-info site (UK): RCC-2000 SPREADSHEETS FOR CONCRETE DESIGN.

Structural Engineers Association of South Carolina: An excellent link. "ALEX'S CORNER" has a lot of great spreadsheets (US Units). This is another interesting one, with a lot of Daniel T. Lee cracked spreadsheets (US Units). An Excel spreadsheet containing a UDF for analysis of combined bending and axial load in any reinforced or prestressed section made up from any number of rectangular or trapezoidal layers, which some people may find useful. It also contains routines for solving polynomial equations up to quartic, and plotting the beam cross-section.

dmoz: Open Directory for Structural Engineering. This is quite a comprehensive list of links to structural software sites.

Griffith Plans: A source for free calculators with the description, "ALL FREE CALCULATORS BELOW ARE BASED ON Microsoft Excel spreadsheets or Microsoft Works spreadsheets.. (Excel or Works software is required) These calculators are ALL FREE and have no time limit."

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