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Complementary Usage Of Mathematica And I Deas In Mechanism Design

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1999 Annual Conference


Charlotte, North Carolina

Publication Date

June 20, 1999

Start Date

June 20, 1999

End Date

June 23, 1999



Page Count


Page Numbers

4.135.1 - 4.135.11

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Paper Authors

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S. M. Miner

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R. E. Link

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session 2520

Complementary Usage of Mathematica and I-DEAS in Mechanism Design

R.E. Link, S.M. Miner United States Naval Academy


All mechanical engineering majors at the Naval Academy are required to take a course in Computer Aided Design during their senior year. The underlying philosophy of the course is to use the computer to solve problems that would be impractical to solve by hand. The vehicle used to illustrate this is the design of four bar mechanisms. During the first part of the course the students write programs using Mathematica to perform synthesis, position, velocity, acceleration, and force analyses for the complete range of motion of a four bar mechanism. Using Mathematica helps the students develop an understanding of the equations being solved, as well as, develop an appreciation for the progression of the solution from synthesis through force analysis. In the second part of the course the students are introduced to the SDRC I-DEAS solid modeling software package. Using I-DEAS they build physically realistic models of the mechanisms including animation of the complete range of motion. The position, velocity, acceleration, and force analyses are repeated within I-DEAS by means of menu picks. The only part of the design process that I-DEAS cannot be used for is the synthesis of the mechanism. The use of Mathematica enhances the students understanding of the mechanism design process, while the use of I-DEAS gives the students an appreciation for the ease with which physically realistic models can be generated using high end solid modeling packages.

I. Introduction

The past twenty years has seen a rapid advancement in the capability of computer-aided design tools. Commercial software is readily available to assist with all phases of the design process from ideation though synthesis and analysis, detail design and testing to prototype and production. Computer-aided design tools have become an essential part of the modern design and manufacturing environment and engineering curricula has evolved to include instruction in this field. Virtually all engineering schools include instruction in computer-aided design to some degree. Design software has become so powerful that a novice can conduct sophisticated analyses without knowing very much about the details or limitations of the analysis process.

While it is important for engineering schools to educate students about the use of computer-aided design tools, they must also ensure that the students have an understanding of the underlying mathematical models upon which these computer programs are based. It is a continuing challenge to strike a proper balance between teaching the fundamentals in sufficient depth so that the student understands the underlying principles, and teaching the technology which does most of the repetitive calculations automatically, and makes it practical to solve physically realistic problems in a short amount of time.

Miner, S. M., & Link, R. E. (1999, June), Complementary Usage Of Mathematica And I Deas In Mechanism Design Paper presented at 1999 Annual Conference, Charlotte, North Carolina.

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