The Contact stress and area problems set up like this. Picking calculation produces the outputs shown. |

Beam-section properties pop up with either of the beam modules, or can be accessed on its own. Users select a general beam shape, type in dimensions, and hit calculate. Results include moments and product of inertia, section modulus, and radius of gyration. |

Deflections and maximum stresses are solved for in Uniform beam analysis. The Sections button takes users to the Beam Section Properties shown in an accompanying image. The Add button allows adding loads. Show Plot animates the beam. |

These alone might be enough but it also include modules for dynamics and controls, fatigue and fracture mechanics, numerical analysis, and several utilities.There is little learning curve for most of the modules. Users simply select one for the task at hand, type in known information, and the software calculates several engineering quantities. A closer look at a couple modules show its capability.

In the Contact stress and area module, users select one of nine geometry models, such as a sphere on sphere, a sphere in a socket, cylinder on cylinder, perpendicular cylinders, and others. Users can select materials from a library of about 48, from aluminum to zinc. Or type in values for unlisted materials. These values would include the elastic and shear modulus, Poisson's ratio, mass density, and so on.

Hitting Calculate solves the problem, while Show Data shows a summary of the input values along with the calculated contact radius, displacement of centers, contact area, and maximum contact stress.Two Beam analysis modules allow analyzing a uniform beam with several different end connections or a general beam with up to 19 elements. This analysis is actually a finite-element problem. Each beam element or section can have a different cross section, and transverse loads. The module calculates static displacements, rotations, shears, moments, and stresses, along with natural frequencies and mode shapes.

Solutions may take a few seconds, depending upon the speed of your browser's Java virtual machine. Results are in both text and graphic form.

A Numerical Analyses section includes modules for matrix operations, a 2D function plotter, and polynomial root solver. A utilities section has a calculator for beam-section properties, a material-properties database, and a unit converter. When users have questions regarding a selection, picking on the question mark in the GUI pulls up well-written documentation.

The software takes a couple minutes to initialize files on your system over a dial-up connection, but after that, calculations and results are readily available. The software has been online for about a year and at no cost to users, who can also make suggestions as to what modules to develop next. The recent upgrade will be available on CD.

The Engineering Toolbox comes online from Engrasp Inc., Box 14596, Arlington, TX 76094, (866) ENGRASP, www.engineerstoolbox.com.