The problem was that when she opened the gift, though she thought it was beautiful craftsmanship, she didn’t really know what to *do* with it. It hadn’t really been on her radar screen in terms of cooking utensils, so she wasn’t really aware of the uses for such a tool. I remedied (I hope!) this gap between form and function by telling her what I had used my mortar and pestle for and how she could use hers—although it strikes me now that I forgot to tell her that she could also use the mortar and pestle for making guacamole.

I find that this pattern occurs somewhat frequently, though: We see something that looks cool and useful, but if pressed, we don’t actually know how we would use it. It’s not that it *isn’t* useful; we’re just not sure exactly *how *it’s useful. But oftentimes, all it takes is someone to give us some ideas in order for our imaginations to start working on our own potential use cases.

Last week, PTC announced the release of a new product: PTC Mathcad Gateway. It’s a new way to use PTC Mathcad for your engineering calculations, giving users Universal Access to these calculations while simultaneously giving companies protection for their Intellectual Property. It looks great, and it sounds useful, but maybe it’s difficult thinking of how it could be leveraged in your department. To help get your creative juices flowing, here’s a list of our top 3 use cases for PTC Mathcad Gateway.

**1. Calculations in the field or on the line**—Not every calculation is done sitting behind a desk at the office. You aren’t always in a location conducive to pulling out your laptop and running your PTC Mathcad worksheet, but you need the results regardless. Whether you’re at a project site and need to know how much to adjust a valve to get the necessary flow, or whether you’ve stepped away from your desk to inspect the manufacturing line and need to know how adjusting the belt speed will affect other aspects of your process. Simply pull out your phone or tablet, and use the browser to navigate to the appropriate webform, calculate with your inputs, and you’ve got your results ** no matter where you are in the world** (given internet access, of course!).

2. **Quick estimates**—If you supply or sell customized parts or products, the customizations, as well as the corresponding price changes, can be almost infinite. With PTC Mathcad Gateway, you can set up a worksheet that gives a cost estimate depending on certain customizations and put the correlated webform on a public URL to give customers and clients a way to receive quick estimates on parts. The added bonus is that they’ll have a better idea of exactly what they want when they actually call you up for an official quote, reducing talk time, and thereby increasing efficiency.

3. **Business as usual**—Perhaps the best use case of all is the simplest: The same people doing the same calculations in the same place as before (presumably at a desk), but now you, as the engineering manager, can ensure that everyone is using verified, validated, and up-to-date calculations. Moreover, while you’ll still have some PTC Mathcad content authors, your other engineers, who really only need to get results, won’t have to worry about learning new software, and you won’t have to worry about them accidentally changing the calculations you’ve verified.

Of course, these are only a few of the possible use cases, but hopefully they’ve given you a better picture of how you might be able to implement PTC Mathcad Gateway in your department.

Have other ideas for great PTC Mathcad Gateway use cases? Let us know in the comments section below!

Learn more about PTC Mathcad Gateway

Sign up for a live demo.

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Many engineering companies, like yours, could benefit from standardizing on certified engineering calculations and distributing them to stakeholders, internal employees, suppliers, subcontractors, customers, and even the general public. At the same time, providing universal access is risky. It exposes sensitive and valuable IP, and it often proves difficult and costly. Now there’s a solution.

In 90 seconds learn the key benefits of this product:

**IP Protect**: Leverage the power of your engineering calculations without unauthorized access or distribution of your valuable IP. Your calculations are your competitive differentiators, why leave them outside of your control?**Universal Access**: Your team is not sitting at a desk 40 hours a week. Allow anybody, anywhere, on any device to run a certified calculation scenario.**Certified Calculation Hub**: You’ve spent years refining, testing and approving the calculations in your engineering design process. Now you can standardize on your calculation best practices.**Timely and Trusted Results**: Gone are the days of team members searching for the correct, certified calculations. Provide just a single point of entry to all of your calculation best practices.**Easy Deployment**: Use the hardware you already have. PTC Mathcad Gateway deploys right inside your existing infrastructure and can grow with you.

__Learn More__ about PTC Mathcad Gateway. >>

__Attend__ an upcoming live webinar. >>

__Contact__ a PTC Mathcad Gateway expert. >>

Not so long ago , at least I like to think about it that way, I was a student myself and I used to take notes on sheets of paper and work on projects with my “best friend” the scientific calculator. I bet every generation had its own favorite calculation tool that once mastered made life easier.

Any of you remember this?

I still have one at home. Engineering runs in the family for me.

What I’m trying to say here is that teaching and learning methods changed a lot over the years. If I were to show that old ruler to a student today and tell him that I can do Trigonometry with it he would say: “Old man, we have computers today.”

And he would be absolutely right.

If you search the internet today you can find tools that can perform more complex calculations than the ones I’ve mentioned above. The tool that I find to be suited for both students and teachers is PTC Mathcad.

**PTC Mathcad is a tool that enhances the student’s and teacher’s abilities. **

- It’s easy to learn – you have access to training material and video tutorials
- Reduces errors and miscalculations
- Broadens student thinking by enabling reasoning from data and mathematical modelling
- Supports teaching excellence by providing an excellent curriculum development environment
- Supports Real-World skills.

Many companies use PTC Mathcad in their design process and design departments. The software is used for Chemical Engineering, Civil Engineering, Electrical Engineering, Systems Engineering, Aerospace Engineering and many other fields so the engineers of tomorrow need to be prepared for this.

In order to support this, PTC created the Engineer of the Future Program and became a strategic partner of FIRST where it donates software and services to all FIRST teams, provides easy-to-use training curriculum, hosts online workshops, and provides team funding grants for FIRST teams at all levels.

We do not want to be the tool that everyone uses because everyone else uses it; we want our software used because it promotes learning and creates better professionals.

Check out our resources for students.

See how one professor uses PTC Mathcad for teaching and helps students learn the math of nuclear medicine faster.

New to PTC Mathcad? Try it for free with PTC Mathcad Express.

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If you’ve ever played music, you know that an octave in Western music is generally divided into 12 equal half-steps or pitches: C, C#, D, D#, E, F, F#, G, G#, A, A#, B. What you might not know is that the intervals between those pitches have not always existed as an exactly perfect 1/12^{th} the width of the whole octave.

Because of a computational difficulty (caused by dividing strings with prime numbers) that mathematicians have recognized since ancient times, we “temper” the interval between half steps. An approach to tuning that goes back to ancient Greece, just intonation relates the pitches to each other using rational ratios, and ignores the irrational ratios introduced by perfect half-steps.

**Breaking from western tradition**

But not everybody uses tempered pitches. Some avant-garde artists find themselves drawn to more mathematically pure intervals—what is called “just intonation.” An approach to tuning that goes back to ancient Greece, just intonation relates the pitches to each other using ratios and ignores the problems perfect half steps introduce.

It’s an interesting intellectual exercise to be sure. But why would any trained musician leave behind conventional pianos and guitars to experiment with these often foreign sounding pitches?

“Someone needs to push acoustic music forward,” says Cris Forster, a musician/builder and a long-time PTC Mathcad user. “And by experimenting with alternative, sometimes forgotten tunings, I’m hoping to make a contribution to the future of music.”

Indeed, Forster has dedicated the past 40 years to exploring and composing music featuring unique intonations, and inventing acoustic instruments to perform them.

One of his first creations is the Chrysalis—a large wheel with 82 strings on each side, played in a manner similar to a harp. But unlike a harp, the wheel can be freely turned so the musician can access all the strings easily. Here’s Forster playing it while reciting a Whitman poem.

**Musical Mathematics**

As you might guess, calculation software can play an important role when crafting original instruments. “A creative investigation into musical sound inevitably leads to the subject of musical mathematics,” says Forster. “It even leads to a reexamination of the meaning of variables.”

Forster has written a fascinating and comprehensive book on the subject. *Musical Mathematics: On the Art and Science of Acoustic Instruments*, which is packed with equations created in PTC Mathcad, seeks to describe alternative intervals and instruments, and the calculations necessary to make them.

In the book’s first chapter, Forster introduces a new unit of mass he calls the “Mica.” The Mica is like a slug (a mass that accelerates by 1 ft/s^{2} when a force of one pound (lb_{F}) is exerted on it), but scaled to inches. With the Mica, he produces units that are more convenient to instrument builders, who work in inches rather than feet.

Unfortunately, while the new unit solves one problem, it introduces another. How do you represent a unit nobody’s ever heard of before in your calculations –without adding tedious conversion work?

For Forster, that was easy. He simply taught PTC Mathcad the unit he needed.

“I incorporated the Mica math unit into the PTC Mathcad user-defined files,” says Forster. “Now I can use Mica as a written word and it’s interpreted by PTC Mathcad in the same way as I write the lb for pound or lbf for pound force. The worksheet even gives me answers in Mica, too.”

Image: The Mica is now available as a worksheet option when Forster uses PTC Mathcad.

The accuracy of those answers impresses Forster, too. While writing the book, he vetted his calculations in PTC Mathcad and didn’t find a single conceptual or computational error.

To read more about Cris Forster’s work, including a detailed journal of the building of Chrysalis II, see his website. And when you’re done, head over to our PTC Mathcad page and download your free-for-life version copy today.

Learn more about unit conversion in PTC Mathcad.

Image: Forster works on the Chrysalis II in his San Francisco workshop.

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**#5 ****PTC Mathcad Prime 3.1 API + SDK**

The title explains it all. In March we released PTC Mathcad Prime 3.1 , which included some robust new features.

“PTC Mathcad Prime’s API is COM based meaning that developers can use a myriad of Windows platform languages to build applications, C++, C#, VB, VB Script , JavaScript to name the most common. PTC Mathcad Prime’s API is supported by a Software Development kit. The development kit is a collection of 10 applications which demonstrate the API abilities and provide the source code for the applications.”

Read the full article here.

**#4 Announcing PTC Mathcad Prime 3.1**

In case you didn’t hear the news, we had a new product release in March! PTC Mathcad Prime 3.1 allows engineers to better connect their engineering calculations to other applications and processes.

Learn about all the features here.

**#3 Ten Essential PTC Mathcad Worksheets**

Why start from scratch if something has already been built? We all know time is the one thing no one has enough of, so it’s no wonder this article is in the top three. This article reviews the top 10 pre-built PTC Mathcad worksheets that you can leverage in your day-to-day calculations.

Read the full article here.

**#2 PTC Mathcad Hacks – Shortcuts that will make your life easier: Part II **

Good things come in pairs. Socks, mittens, and blog posts. This our second article featuring valuable keyboard shortcuts to help make your life (and functions in PTC Mathcad easier). If you didn’t stumble upon this article when it first came out, now is the time.

And our most popular blog post from this past year was……

**#1 Converting Worksheets from PTC Mathcad 15 to PTC Mathcad Prime**

This article is both useful and valuable. Anji breaks down the facts and guidelines of converting your PTC Mathcad 15 worksheets to PTC Mathcad Prime, with simple step-by-step instructions and images. If you’re looking to convert your legacy files, this is a must read.

And that’s a wrap! Are there any blog posts you think should have made it to the top 5 that didn’t? Let us know! We love feedback on how we can generate posts that our readers enjoy consuming.

If you’re new to PTC Mathcad try our free for life version, PTC Mathcad Express.

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In other words, a ** lot **of snow. So apparently I moved to the wrong place.

But there is one thing that makes winter worthwhile. Christmas. Once the New Year comes along, I wish the weather would start heading toward spring immediately. But until then, Christmas cheer gets me through. In fact, I actually *prefer* cold weather during Christmas.

So yeah, I like Christmas. I like Christmas so much that this is the second year in a row that I’ve written a PTC Mathcad blog centered on “the most wonderful time of the year.” And in last year’s Christmas-themed blog, I jokingly listed out several ideas for topics revolving around PTC Mathcad and Christmas. As it turns out, they weren’t all terrible ideas. Therefore, I’m going to tackle one of those ideas this year: figuring out how much electric energy is used each year due to Christmas decorations.

Okay, so we won’t be able to find any sort of exact number. Rather, I want to figure out some kind of minimum. But first things first: I need to define some new units.

These will come in handy a bit later on. I should also mention that we’re only looking at usage in the United States. Getting data about holiday behavior from multiple countries would be extraordinarily difficult, if not impossible.

The U.S. population as of July 2014 was 318.8571 million. According to 2010 Census data, the average household size is 2.58 people (sounds painful). If we assume the average household size is roughly the same, we can estimate the number of households in the U.S. by dividing the population by household size.

According to a 2010 Gallup poll, 88% of Americans put up a Christmas tree for decoration and 87% put up other decorations. So we can estimate the number of households in the U.S. that have Christmas trees and other Christmas décor.

Right now in my office I have a 7.5 foot Christmas tree. On that Christmas tree, I have two strings of lights, each with 100 bulbs. According to the information on the tag, each bulb is rated at 0.425W, which should give each light string a rating of 42.5W. However, the tag says it’s rated to 40.8W, which would be accurate for 99 bulbs, so I’m thinking there might be some false advertising going on. I’ll need to count the light bulbs myself when I take the tree down. But that’s another issue!

Back to the point, I think it’s pretty fair to say that if a household is putting up a Christmas tree, there would be *at least* two light strings with *at least *100 bulbs each. I don’t think I’m stretching too much here. Moreover, if a household is putting up other decorations, we can safely assume that that additional decoration incorporates *at least* one light string with *at least *100 bulbs. Remember, I’m trying to find a minimum here. I am not accounting for moderate to extreme decorations, like you might find at the Johnson home.

If we assume that each light string has a power rating of about 40.8W, we can compute the power used for Christmas trees and for other decorations. Multiplying that power by the number of households that put up that type of decoration, we can calculate the total power.

Over 13 gigawatts! It only took 1.21GW to send Doc Brown and Marty McFly back to the future.

Time travel aside, that’s a tough number to understand. Let’s move forward a bit. I would say that the vast majority of Christmas decorations are put up around Thanksgiving, and they probably hang around into mid-January. But to be on the safe side, let’s say the decorations are up for 30 days. In many cases, those lights are likely on 24/7, but let’s be conservative and say 12 hours per day. Multiplying that time by the total power gives us the total energy consumption, which I’ve displayed using the kilowatt-hour unit I defined at the beginning.

The average price per kilowatt-hour in the U.S. is 12 cents. Using that, we can calculate the total cost.

More than half a billion dollars! Now remember, that’s a *minimum*. Most houses are putting up significantly more than one or two light strings. And then you have businesses and parks and department stores with *hundreds* of light strings. At a bare minimum, Americans spend over half a billion dollars each year simply to power their Christmas lights.

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas.

Don’t have PTC Mathcad? Try it for free with PTC Mathcad Express.

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**Utilize Range Variables**

PTC Mathcad uses range variables to do a multitude of things. One of which is to define a range of values in which to evaluate a function (or functions) over. How many of you have done something like this before in excel? Type in cell A3 ‘0’, type in cell A4 ‘0.1’, highlight the two cells, grab the corner and drag down.

In a spreadsheet all values need to be evaluated on the screen in order to be referenced in another cell. PTC Mathcad works differently, the values do not need to be evaluated on the screen in order to be referenced in a calculation. This allows PTC Mathcad users to simply define a range and create functions that use the range as an argument. You can call the force or torque function at a given time like shown below or evaluate it across the entire range on a plot without needing to have all the values shown on the screen.

The value of using a range variable instead of dragging your values down column ‘A’ becomes even more valuable when you want to change the range you are evaluating over, or change the step of the range. In PTC Mathcad you simply change a number to update the range. Good luck changing the step size from 0.01 to 0.001 on a range that goes from 0 to 100 in Excel. So for scenarios like this, be aware you do not need to manually create and evaluate all the numbers in PTC Mathcad.

**Transitioning to a units aware engine**

One of the biggest differences between Excel and PTC Mathcad is the units intelligence that PTC Mathcad’s engine has. When you are in PTC Mathcad, you’ll notice that (by default) all units are labelled as units and their formatting changes to blue, bold & italicized. PTC Mathcad’s engine will automatically account for any units, something that is very handy, but may cause you to see some unexpected results in your PTC Mathcad calculations if you do not accommodate for them in your equations.

There are two cases I see often where what’s in the formula bar of Excel doesn’t directly translate into what your PTC Mathcad equation should look like. The first case is for empirical formulas, that’s to say formulas that have unit conversion baked into them. Below is an example I recently came across doing a conversion of my own. I’ve stripped out the context, but the formula itself takes ‘psi’ and multiplies it by ‘in’ and returns ‘lbf’. With units intelligence in PTC Mathcad simply typing the same equation will return ‘lbf/in’. This is as expected since the equation multiplies a pressure and a length, but the empirical formula returns a force.

To get PTC Mathcad to do this you need to divide the variables with units by their unit and then multiply the entire equation by the desired output (I_{2}).

Another common scenario where what’s in your Excel formula doesn’t translate 1:1 with a PTC Mathcad equation is for unit conversion. Many Excel formulas will have “conversion factors” built into the equations to manually force Excel to return the correct numeric value for the desired unit string. Those should not be included in a PTC Mathcad equation since the unit labeling will ensure you that your units are converted correctly.

You may see something that looks like this in the formula bar…

=A1*5450.4

And after 15 minutes of deciphering you may be able to determine that 60 (minutes in an hour) * 24 (hours in a day) * 3.785 (liters in a gallon) = 5450.4

=A1*60*24*3.785

Which is the conversion factor for converting ‘gal/min’ to ‘L/day’. Which isn’t a tragic thing to have if your formula is that simple; however, when formulas become more complex those numbers become harder to tease out. In PTC Mathcad, no additional calculation or formula needs to exist to convert your volume flow rate from one unit to another. Just assign the variable a unit and dictate which unit to display a result in when the time is appropriate.

**Lookup Tables**

You may have lookup tables integrated into your spreadsheets. Lookup tables enable you to lookup specific values within a data set; both vlookup and hlookup are commonly used in spreadsheets and often times you have vlookups inside of vlookups. To put it shortly, PTC Mathcad has those same lookup functions so you can easily pull the Modulus of Elasticity (E) for alloy steels.

**PTC Mathcad loves matrices, simplifiying your array formulas**

** **

Excel for the average user does not handle arrays or matrices, dragging formulas down the spreadsheet to try to work around that is a timely process. PTC Mathcad on the other hand loves when you feed it arrays and matrices. If you have array forumulas in Excel, those will translate to array (or matrix) math; when combined with more robust range variables to replace your array constants the matrix math you are doing in Excel will move cleanly into PTC Mathcad.

**Locking single cells, rows and columns**

Many excel formulas contain absolute references ($A$1) and or mixed references ($A1 or A$1). These are used to lock a specific cell, a specific column or a specific row when you drag formulas across the spreadsheet. In PTC Mathcad you are not going to press ‘F4’ to add a dollar sign to the formula, you will simply use variables and matrix indices.

Although the task of moving all your excel calculations from Excel to PTC Mathcad may seem like a tall task, after you do the first couple you will quickly learn the nuances between the two software packages and become comfortable with PTC Mathcad’s range variables, units awareness, lookup functions, and matrix indexing.

Learn more today and watch this short demo on the Excel component

Don’t have PTC Mathcad? Try it for free with PTC Mathcad Express.

]]>That’s a bit of a bold statement, isn’t it? I don’t think I’m alone in feeling a little skeptical any time I see an article of clothing with “One size fits all” on the label. You mean to tell me that that baseball cap will fit a toddler just as well as an NFL lineman? You expect me to believe that those socks will fit size 13 feet just as well as size 3? Surely these items were, on some level, tailored to fit some average specimen with an allowance for most other people. Two standard deviations on each side of the peak of the bell curve.

The same skepticism can make conversations about PTC Mathcad difficult. Truly, PTC Mathcad is designed to be the single solution for engineering calculations, regardless of industry vertical. But saying “one size fits all” is insufficient. Engineers need to know that PTC Mathcad is the right tool, the right solution, for *them*.

And so, for the past couple weeks, we have run a blog series about why engineers in certain industry verticals should use PTC Mathcad. It allows us to get the conversation moving in a more specific fashion. A couple weeks ago, Tim Bond kicked things off by talking about Mechanical Engineers. Last week, Cosmin Negru continued with Civil Engineers. Now it’s my turn to talk about Chemical Engineers.

So why should Chemical Engineers use PTC Mathcad? What makes PTC Mathcad specifically suited to fit the needs of the Chemical Engineer? The following list is by no means exhaustive—far from it! But hopefully they will get the conversation moving.

: PTC has a variety of worksheet packages available free and for purchase that contain pre-built PTC Mathcad worksheets. These worksheet libraries provide great value in many industries, giving engineers examples of how the various pieces of functionality in PTC Mathcad can be leveraged to solve specific engineering problems. Specifically, Worksheet Library Volume 1, with nearly 500 worksheets, provides a collection of 22 worksheets specifically geared at Chemical Engineering, as well as a handful of other applicable worksheets in the “Miscellaneous” folder of the Library. Engineers can use these worksheets as a starting point for their calculations, rather than having to deal with the intimidation of a blank worksheet that has to be built from scratch. The other worksheets in the Library add great value as well, such as the Programming collection and the Differential Equations collection, but I wanted to specifically call out those worksheets that are directly structured for Chemical Engineers.__Pre-built Worksheets__: Steam tables and fluid properties form an integral part of Chemical Engineering calculations. Dr. Harvey Hensley worked with PTC Mathcad to build out some 220 custom functions that access the 1650+ chemical compounds and their properties from the Prode database. This resource is extensive and powerful and is available for customers who are active on Global Support.__Prode Physical Properties Custom Functions__: While Prode is an excellent tool, in some cases it may be far more than sufficient for most engineers in need of physical properties and steam table access. CoolProp is a free, open-source fluid properties database. The custom functions built to access CoolProp using PTC Mathcad are also available for Global Support customers. While less robust than the Prode custom functions, the CoolProp functions are rather more user friendly than the Prode implementation.__CoolProp Custom Functions__: Okay, I know we talk a lot about how PTC Mathcad handles units, but when it comes to Chemical Engineering, unit conversion is paramount. With all the possible units for pressure (atm, Pa, psi, etc.) and the confusion of temperature units (Fahrenheit, Celsius, Kelvin), having a tool that handles these units for you is critical.__Unit Conversion__

Now, with all that said, you still want to know if PTC Mathcad will “fit” you. Fortunately, we have a fitting room. Try our free download of PTC Mathcad Express.

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As a civil engineer you will always have to perform calculations for the structures that you design.

I’ve studied civil engineering and as a student I’ve learned to use PTC Mathcad in order to get my projects done and I became a huge fan of it; but that is a story for another time.

After graduating I’ve been working in a design department and I can tell you from experience that engineers use a wide range of tools when it comes to engineering calculations. Most of them use Excel or other similar calculation tools while others still do the calculations by hand. That was absolutely fine by me before I started working there. Let me tell you a few things that I had to struggle with and the top three time savings tools I found to be the most necessary when performing my engineering calculations.

**Natural Math Notation **

The first week at that job they introduced me to the workflow that they have and I started looking through the files and worksheets in order to get familiar with them. As I was opening them, I realized that nothing in there looked similar to what I was familiar from school. It was hard for me to follow and understand the formulas. It was all cell references, $ and !. Engineers do not understand cell references; they understand formulas written in natural math notations. I had to lose a lot of time to decipher the content of a file before being able to use it and this sometimes required me paying a visit to the guy that created it in the first place because he was the only one able to answer my questions. So re-using his files was not that straight forward. Imagine that at some point that engineer leaves the company. Everybody else will then have to struggle to understand his work. Using PTC Mathcad will prevent things like this to happen because the calculation is laid out in an easy to read, understand and easy to validate format.

**Unit Conversion**

What I also had to pay a lot of attention to when working with spreadsheets was units and units conversion. I was never sure if the result was displayed in the correct unit or if I’ve missed a unit conversion along the way. Trust me when I tell you that no other software handles units better than PTC Mathcad does. Not only that it recognizes the built in unit when you type it from the keyboard, but you will never have to worry about unit conversion due to PTC Mathcad’s Intelligent Unit System. This will save you time and effort and you will be able to focus on completing your engineering calculations.

**Templates**

Being in any of the situations above and facing a deadline is not really the best position to be in. Spending time to understand the work of someone else because it’s not in the right format or having to worry about the accuracy of the result can be avoided using the right tool. PTC Mathcad will make it easier for you and your design department to put together template worksheets that even a new employee can use and understand.

Don’t have PTC Mathcad? Try out all the above features for free in PTC Mathcad Express.

Try our free civil engineering worksheets

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A completely mechanical product, like the screwdriver I mentioned above, is something likely designed by a small team of mechanical engineers. Design considerations would include: drive type(s), handle ergonomics, torsional stresses and strains, cam-out torque, material(s), design for manufacturability (DFM), and length. The majority of people would consider a mechanical screwdriver to be a simple product and I would agree to an extent. I previously worked for a fastener manufacturer and you’d be surprised as to the subtle complexity of screws and the tools designed to drive them.

A product that adds a level of complexity, beyond a completely mechanical product, could be a vending machine. Vending machines have mechanical, electrical, software, and possibly even connectivity components. Rather than a team of just mechanical engineers, a design team or teams would be comprised of engineers across multiple disciplines. The physical machine itself including the belts and gears, goods storage, security locks, etc. are mechanical components. The lights, power, motors, etc. are electrical (although I would argue the mechanical engineer should be the one to determine the size of the motor). The interface of selecting which good you want is software. And a new vending machine may even be smart enough to alert the supplier when the goods are running out so they can proactively schedule a delivery.

Whether you are a mechanical engineer designing a completely mechanical product, or (even more-so) a mechanical engineer working within a multi-disciplinary team, clearly documenting your design related calculations is a necessity. Sharing anything but a PTC Mathcad worksheet with colleagues seemingly always results in a response of “can you explain what you did here” and more of your time spent doing things you don’t need to be doing. Calculations performed in PTC Mathcad are easily digestible for everyone you work with, especially anyone reviewing or validating the work like managers or governing organizations. Having all of your design related work compiled in PTC Mathcad worksheets will enable you to efficiently perform your calculations and effortlessly share them with whoever needs to see them. And when it comes time to design a derivate product, you’ll already have your previous work as a starting point.

Learn more about documenting design intent in this 90 second demo. >>

Read this whitepaper on solving mechanical engineering calculation challenges. >>

Explore our free mechanical engineering worksheets. >>

See the difference for yourself and try PTC Mathcad Express for free. >>

]]>PTC Mathcad has a whole slew of functions for curve fitting, smoothing, interpolation, prediction, and just data analysis in general. So yeah, PTC Mathcad does curve fitting very well.

But there is a slight catch. To really be able to do curve fitting well, you need to have a good idea of the nature of the fitting function. Is it linear, exponential, logarithmic, sinusoidal, etc? The built-in PTC Mathcad function that you use depends upon the nature of the data. For example, you don’t want to use **expfit** for data that has a linear relationship.

What if you aren’t sure of the nature of the data? Well, you’ll then have to try out different fits until you find the fitting function that best describes the relationship of the data. But this is cumbersome.

One day, after trying to explain this to a customer, I thought that it would be nice to build something out in PTC Mathcad that would allow a user to quickly and simply insert the data and test out the best fitting function. So that’s exactly what I did.

In my worksheet , once the data is in, probably through one of our File Access functions, all you have to do is change the number for the *Fit* variable to see how well different fitting functions match up with the data.

Using PTC Mathcad’s symbolics engine, the fitting function is automatically displayed.

I also wanted to give more information than just the fitting function. The built-in functions used for curve fitting return a column vector of the coefficients that define the fit. What the functions do not return is a quantitative indication of the quality of the fit. But Mathcad can handle that easily enough, so I ran a calculation for the R-squared value,

where *y* is the vector of dependent data values, *F* is the fitting function, *x* is the vector of independent data values, and *μ* is the mean of *y*.

And finally, we produce a plot of the data alongside the fitting function to give a visual of how well the two correspond.

As I said, all of this is automatically generated from some programs I tucked away in a collapsible Area, so that all you have to do is change the value of *Fit* to see which function fits the data best. In the case of my dummy data you see plotted above, the best fit is the exponential function.

But another great thing about this is that the results are not simply for display. *F(x)* is actually a usable function. So let’s say the data on the x-axis are time, such that every second for 150 seconds I collect a data point that then gets plotted on the y-axis. Now that I have my fitting function, I can use it to predict what will happen in the system at the 151^{st} second or the 180^{th} second.

Hopefully you’ll find this worksheet useful. If you want, you can use it standalone, entering your own data in, or, if you’d like to incorporate it into worksheets of your own, you can use the Include Worksheet capability to reference the worksheet or just throw all of the calculations into a collapsible Area.

Happy curve fitting!

Don’t have PTC Mathcad? Try it out for free with PTC Mathcad Express.

Download all our free worksheets.

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PTC Mathcad is powerful engineering math software, and the people who use it love it. But Tim Bond, Application Engineer, says many remain in the dark about certain areas of the software that could prove valuable to them – specifically, how to fully make use of symbolics and the Excel integration.

Here are Bond’s tips for getting more from the software you already have:

Everybody uses the numeric portion of the robust PTC Mathcad math engine. They type in a single equation, or a series of equations, press equals, and are presented with a scalar value or a matrix of values.

What many users are unaware of is the fact PTC Mathcad is capable of return answers *symbolically*. Often a numeric result doesn’t tell the entire story, which is where a symbolic representation comes in handy.

One example of this is data regression. I can add a trend line to my data, whether it’s a polynomial fit, a power fit, etc. and see a numerical curve, without knowing the equation that represents the curve.

Using the symbolics engine I can actually represent the trend line with an equation, giving me visibility to the curve and the equation that defines the curve.

Symbolics also come in handy when there are no numbers. Math you find yourself doing on a piece of paper or with a graphing calculator can very easily be performed by PTC Mathcad symbolics engine. From basic algebraic manipulation commands, to advanced Inverse Laplace Transforms, PTC Mathcad’s symbolic engine can help you solve equations and discover relationships and correlations between variables that are far from straightforward when done by hand.

If you’re not already familiar with it, watch the video below for an introduction to symbolics.

Although we recommend engineers use PTC Mathcad to perform their engineering calculations, we realize that Microsoft Excel does a few things that complement PTC Mathcad very well. This is why, PTC Mathcad allows you to embed an Excel spreadsheet into your PTC Mathcad document.

By using the Excel component you can display tabular data from other sources in your PTC Mathcad document. For example, if technical specifications of a part were in an embedded Excel component, you could dynamically pull specs from the spreadsheet into your PTC Mathcad worksheet, add unit intelligence, and use them in your downstream PTC Mathcad calculations.

Other times, displaying your PTC Mathcad calculation results in a table is desired. Your entire PTC Mathcad worksheet could feed into an Excel component to summarize the calculations. Even add some conditional formatting to give the numbers some aesthetic significance. Using the Excel component, you get the best of both worlds; the calculation transparency, documentation, and units intelligence of PTC Mathcad, and the tabular presentation of Excel.

Watch the video below for an introduction to the Excel Component.

New to PTC Mathcad? Try it for free with PTC Mathcad Express.

]]>There. Did I hook you, draw you in? I suppose at this point you could just scroll to the bottom of the page and watch the video, but I hope you’re wondering, “Why on earth did they drop pumpkins for a PTC Mathcad blog?” Well, there are three answers to that question. First, I know very few people who will not be interested in watching pumpkins explode on impact. Second, it’s almost Halloween, so doing something with pumpkins seemed apt for the season. Third, we didn’t just drop pumpkins for the sake of dropping pumpkins; we ran an experiment.

You may not know this, but PTC Mathcad can actually do quite a lot in Design of Experiments (DOE). In a broad range of disciplines, it is very important to understand which factors within a design have the greatest impact on the end result, whatever that may be. But it can often be very tedious and expensive to run all of the necessary experiments for all of the factors. And even then, you don’t really get a picture of interaction effects between factors (i.e. sometimes two factors are insignificant in their own right, but together they may have a rather large effect). By using various DOE methods and algorithms, you can get a picture of the significance of various factors, and their interactions, without running a complete set of tests.

I’ll do my best to explain with our pumpkin experiments, but first, I need to add a disclaimer: This is a *very* basic, even simplistic, example of DOE. PTC Mathcad’s capabilities in this realm are extensive, far beyond what I could accomplish in a blog about plottingdropping pumpkins. You can find more information and better explanations at a recent blog post written by my colleague Thomas Devaraj. Also, to keep things simple, we don’t explore interaction effects in this blog post.

Now, we need to answer two questions: what is the “end result” we want to test against, and what factors might influence that end result? In the case of these pumpkins, we want to look at splatter radius—how far from the impact point does the largest significant piece of pumpkin shrapnel go? And the factors to test against are size (in terms of weight), drop height, and whether the pumpkin is intact or has been hollowed out.

In order to really get a full understanding of these factors, we can use the **fullfact** function, which tells us that we need to conduct 8 different runs.

The columns for A, B, and C give either -1 or 1. This corresponds to high and low values to be used in testing. In our case, factors and lows/highs are as follows:

A: Size – ~6 lb (-1)/~24 lb (1)

B: Hollow or not – hollow (-1)/ full (1)

C: Drop height – 3^{rd} floor of parking garage (-1)/ 4^{th} floor of parking garage (1)

For a full experiment, we would need to conduct 8 runs, meaning 8 pumpkins. While I would have had more fun throwing 8 pumpkins off a parking garage, it’s a little costly (imagine the cost of running a complete experiment for 10 or more factors—that would be 100 or more tests!).

Instead, I can use different methods to reduce the number of runs while still giving good information. A couple of methods are fractional factorial (using the **fractfact** function in PTC Mathcad) or **taguchi**. Giving a comparison of the two methods is well beyond the scope of this blog, but you can read more here.

We decided to use the Taguchi method, which gave us the four runs that we would do for this experiment. That’s half the cost and effort of the full experiment.

Running the tests, we found the following results for splatter radius.

To get an idea of the impact of each factor from these results, we use the **quickscreen** function.

I can visualize these results by pulling the data from this matrix Q and plotting them on an Effects Plot, where the slope of the line for each factor gives the significance of that factor in pumpkin splatter radius.

You’ll notice some interesting things here. By comparison to the other two factors, the height at which the pumpkin was dropped does not have a very large effect. Size has by far the greatest effect. How can we explain these results? Well, more testing would have to be done to get a more clear understanding, but we can definitively say that if you want a large splatter radius when you drop a pumpkin (I think now is when I’m obligated to say, “Kids, don’t try this at home”), you should get the biggest pumpkin you can find and hollow it out.

For my part, I was surprised most by the need to hollow out the pumpkin. Truth be told, there isn’t much inside. Pumpkins are already pretty hollow. Just seeds and fibers. But based on the small, full pumpkin thrown from the 4^{th} level, which didn’t really explode much, we were able see that the reason it held together so well appeared to be that those fibers did a lot to keep the pumpkin intact.

Why doesn’t height seem to be much of a factor? Hard to say. There’s no way they reached terminal velocity in the descent. Again, we’d need to do further testing, but in any event, the results indicate that height is not *as* important as the size of the pumpkin and making sure to hollow the pumpkin out.

Okay, here’s the video. I hope you have almost as much fun watching as we did doing the actual dropping.

Learn more about PTC Mathcad’s engineering data analysis capabilities.

Don’t have PTC Mathcad? Try it for free with PTC Mathcad Express.

]]>Yes once again the issue of no SI units bites us. The US briefly thought about this last year when Ralph Wilson (95), founder and owner of the Buffalo Bills, died and his family put the team up for sale. Many proposals were on the table including one from Toronto. Early October we again had a flash of this obstruction when the NY Jets played the Miami Dolphins in London at Wembley Stadium. Many fans were lost in the game’s slang.

To go worldwide NFL or WFL would have to go metric. Some obvious conversions the NFL would have to accept:

- Length of the field needs to be 91.44m
- First down is 9.144m

Some of the new phrasing that may lose the American audience:

- Its fourth and 5.08cm
- He ran a 4.4 35.567m at the combine
- Linemen weigh 158.757kg

Can you imagine if the press/NFL falsely accused Tom Brady of deflating footballs by 13,789.515 Pa? Oh wait, they did that.

Anyways, until the US accepts the SI system of units the WFL may have to wait.

As an aside, the NFL is not using roman numerals for superbowl 50. So change is possible.

Learn more about engineering unit conversion in PTC Mathcad

Don’t have PTC Mathcad? Try it for free with PTC Mathcad Express.

]]>Most students and professors get by with just the calculators and spreadsheets already on their computers. And when those aren’t enough, they’ll spend hours writing code for more specialized applications. In engineering and mathematics, that’s been the go-to approach for decades.

But that doesn’t make it the best approach. The truth is, if you’re still relying on spreadsheets and calculators, you may be making your school year, your job search, and your career, tougher than they need to be. A better solution is to adopt engineering calculation software. Consider the following:

**Engineering calculation software takes care of the tedium for you**.

We all agree that engineers need a deep understanding of algebra. Yet by the time you’re plowing through calculus, algebra no longer requires so much thought, and you shouldn’t have to go through the mechanics of solving simple equations at a certain point.

“I had professors in college who would tell us that on tests, we only had to set up the problem, without having to actually solve it all out because they assumed that we knew how to perform algebraic manipulations,” says Luke Westbrook, Associate Application Engineer at PTC.

Westbrook says engineering calculations are much the same. “Why waste time solving for a variable by hand? Even those that aren’t challenging can often take up valuable time and pose the risk of errors or other easy-to-make mistakes.”

Good calculation software can automate many common algebraic activities as shown in the image below. Westbrook used PTC Mathcad to automatically solve for a simple circuit design that might use basic math, but a lot of manual effort to complete by hand.

And note, some systems can even take the worry out of keeping track of signs and units, so your hard work isn’t brought down by a misplaced millimeter or a forgotten -1.

**Engineering calculation software helps you reuse work—yours and others!**

With engineering calculations software, you can cut homework time by leveraging work you (or others) have already done for common tasks. That means you don’t have to reprogram specialized functions again and again. Just reuse a pre-made worksheet. Some software companies and communities make hundreds of these available online.

“We here at PTC have added tons of content on our community page for you to download for free,” says Tim Bond, another Application Engineer at PTC. “There are hundreds of free worksheets that can assist you in math, science, and engineering courses.”

Plus, with some engineering math software, the resulting math is as attractive as your textbook pages, as in the image below. Teachers appreciate that.

**Engineering calculation software better prepares you for professional engineering challenges.**

One of the most important things in engineering school is to make sure you’re developing the skills you will use in the professional world. Today, **hundreds of thousands of professionals use engineering calculations software**. And as you might guess, employers look for recent graduates with experience using that same software their teams use. Get familiar with it now, and you’ll hit the ground running when your new career begins.

**Engineering calculation software can help illustrate complicated concepts when the math is too advanced for your audience**.

If you’re a professor, engineering calculation software can also help illustrate the effect of changing variables on the physical world.

Dr. Barry Pointon, who teaches nuclear medicine technology to junior college students at the British Columbia Institute of Technology, provides a great example.

His program is challenging, and many of the concepts in his field are best explained with math that is well beyond the level of most of his students. “My job is to give them an intuition of how the math works,” Dr. Pointon says. “I used to try to do that with an overhead projector, an acetate roll, and colored pens. I can tell you it was highly unsuccessful.”

His solution today? Engineering calculations worksheets, combining images with the math that produces the images. Now, Dr. Pointon can change a variable, and students can instantly see how it impacts the image—without ever fully understanding the complicated equations behind it.

**Engineering calculation software is available to students at low-cost or free**.

Ready to make your semester a lot easier? We’ve got good news: You can download the same engineering calculations software the pros use.

PTC Mathcad does what spreadsheets, word processing, presentation software, and programming applications simply cannot do — it brings powerful engineering calculation capabilities into human-readable form. It integrates these readable, live calculations with plots, graphs, text, and images into a single, interactive, and professionally presented document.

Best of all: It’s available to students in free (limited functionality) or low-cost (full-functionality) versions. Download your copy today!

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But which factors should they have focused on? During the race, commentators speculated and there was talk of the problem potentially being linked to tire pressure. What was the ideal tire pressure that would ensure perfect balance of the car? It would appear based on results that this question was mainly left unanswered. Mercedes had just experienced their worst weekend performance in a long time.

Being able to identify those key parameters is something that is crucial not only in fine tuning a race car, but also in engineering & delivering products with the best performance, quality and reliability.

*“The challenge facing corporations is to cut design and development time while producing low-cost quality products that are ready to perform. Many organizations are being challenged to cut delivery time in half or more.” [2]
*

This ability to identify the key factors that have greatest impact on a design & development have been developed and fine-tuned over the years and comes from a well-known branch of study namely “Design of Experiments” or DOE for short.

So what of Design of Experiments and how does PTC Mathcad help engineers and designers improve their experiments? First thing to take note of is that PTC Mathcad has some useful capabilities for undertaking DOE studies. These begin with the generation of the design matrices which are necessary to determine the size and number of experiments or runs. PTC Mathcad’s capabilities further extend into Factor Screening, Analysis of Variance and Regression Analysis. 2D plots such as Pareto and Effects plots can be used to help visualise & make sense of the results of your experiments.

In order to put these capabilities in PTC Mathcad to the test, I approached our resident DOE expert Knud Nissen. To demonstrate what is possible we have an example of an automobile where we want to understand the factors that have greatest impact/influence on the mileage performance of the car. Having a range of both quantitative and qualitative factors to choose from, we will study the effect of 4 quantitative factors.

**Tire Pressure****Ignition timing****Oil Type****Gas Type**

The assumption is that each factor has 2 levels:

** A – Tire Pressure: 28 psi 35 psi**

** B – Ignition Timing: Low High**

** C – Oil Type: 1 2**

**D – Gas Type: 1 2**

With a selection of matrix functions to choose from a fractal factorial function was used to reduce the number of runs from 16 down to 8 thus saving valuable time and resources. The matrix and results are captured in an Excel component in PTC Mathcad to enhance the display of experimental matrix.

Using the effects trace in PTC Mathcad we can get a quick visual indication of those factors that we need to focus on. The steepness of the slope of the lines representing each factor reflect the importance of that factor in achieving the desired outcome.

It is apparent from the graph above that the most important effects are factor A and the interaction of AC. However with a **resolution ****IV** we find that AC is also aliased with BD. Therefore we must go back to the factors to determine which interaction is responsible for the steep slope. The steep slope is unlikely to be caused by the interaction of **tire pressure** & **ignition timing** (the AC interaction). Hence we may deduce that it must be due to the **ignition timing** & **type of oil** or the BD interaction.

We can further isolate the factors that will have the greatest impact on variability. This can be achieved by using the standard deviation instead of the mean values with the quickscreen function. It’s clear from the plot below that we should set the factor C at low level to reduce variability to ensure we have a robust design.

So there we have it, with the help of PTC Mathcad we have optimised the number of experimental runs and isolated the factors and their optimal levels that should help maximize the mileage of the car. We could extend this by calculating the half-effects and using the coefficients to produce the characteristic equation. With this equation we are able to predict the results for experiments we did not conduct when we originally set up the design matrix to be 8 runs rather than the full 16 runs.

If you are interested in the subject of Design of Experiments and want to better understand how PTC Mathcad can help devise your experiment, we provide you with the worksheet used in the example above here. This worksheet is based on an example from reference [1] below.

Don’t have PTC Mathcad? Try it out for free with PTC Mathcad Express.

Learn more about PTC Mathcad’s engineering data analysis capabilities.

References:

1] Understanding Industrial Designed Experiments. by Stephen R. Schmidt & Robert G. Launsby – Air Academy Press & Associates [2005]

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Text content in PTC Mathcad Prime is typically is contained in either e text box or a text block. The text box is the most common, control-t to create one or use the UI controls on the Math or Documentation tab. A text block will preserver the format of you worksheet but has the downside of going all the way across you page. Text boxes are easy and resizable, but do not preserver the format of you page, meaning if you have many lines in a text box it could overlay existing content as it grows.

When in a text box or text block you will see all the Text Formatting options are enabled.

Much like the Math formatting you have control over text region’s: font face, font size, font color, font background color and also font style: bold, italic and underscore. Inside a text box or text block you have the additional options to create bulleted or numbered lists. You can adjust text alignment left, center or right.

Again these UI controls for text fonts, like math fonts, will look like other .NET applications UI controls for fonts. This is by design so as to reduce your learning curve and increase you comfort level with making aesthetically pleasing documents.

You can multi select or group select regions and change many text regions at once. Also, like the math formatting, you can change globally or locally. By simply clicking on the worksheet and changing the default text option on the Text Formatting page, you are selecting globally. If you select a text region or regions, you are changing locally.

In math formatting I mentioned the unicode trick. For text formatting I want to leave you with the math in text region trick. You can add live math to your text sentences and paragraphs in a text box or text block. Simply create a text box with control-t and type some text. Now either type Cntrl-Shift-M or off the Math tab select Math in the regions group. You now have a math region in your text box.

Add some math and when finished use your right arrow or simply click outside the math region to get back to text.

Also remember the Boolean equal trick. If you want to show math equations with undeclared variables do not evaluate with the regular equal sign, enter the Boolean equal sign and no red errors will show.

Both math formatting and text formatting benefit from all the documentation and page layout feature on the document tab.

Try it out for free in PTC Mathcad Express.

Learn more about documentation in this 60 second video.

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Let’s look at the feature set of PTC Mathcad Prime as it pertains to documentation. I’ll break this down into two buckets…math and text. This week’s post will cover math formatting.

On the Math formatting tab you’ll find most of the option for controlling the presentation of your math content.

The first thing to notice is the font face selection is PTC Mathcad UniMath Prime. PTC Mathcad Prime comes with 2 fonts which are installed when the product is installed. You can select any font for your math variable. Much like text fonts, you can select a default font for the entire worksheet and still overwrite individual math regions with another font, so a global font and a local font or fonts.

PTC Mathcad Prime does not have the issue earlier versions of PTC Mathcad had in that a variable definition can have one font selected for a region and reference that variable in another region with a completely different font and the result of that variable can have yet another font in a third region. PTC Mathcad Prime does not see them as different variables.

The font options should be fairly familiar since PTC Mathcad Prime is a .NET application and it uses font UI controls much like other .NET applications (MS Office) including: font face, font size, font color, font background color. In addition you have control of the number’s presentation: General, Decimal, Scientific and Percentage. You can also control the number of decimal places to the right of the decimal point and select a variety of displays for complex numbers (I, j, polar-rad, polar-deg)

PTC Mathcad Prime also lets you override the default font settings for variables, units, constants, functions, system and keywords. By default units are blue:

You might want to change that

BTW, control-z, undo, works on font selections as well.

PTC Mathcad Prime has consolidated most of the math symbols and operators onto the Operators and Symbols group on the Math tab. You’ll find the degrees operators, currency symbols and math constants.

Other blogs have been written about PTC Mathcad Prime’s unicode ability and how this can be used to add math symbols. I’ll repeat my favorite unicode trick… the plus minus symbol, can be added via the character map. In the character map UI, with the PTC Mathcad UniMath Prime font selected, type plus minus in the bottom search text box and click select, then copy. This will add the unicode character to the clipboard. Now in Mathcad Prime, type a double quote, and in between the 2 double quotes pace your cursor and hit control-v to past the unicode character.

Now place your cursor to the right of the left double quote and backspace. You now have a math region with plus minus. You can do this with vector symbols or really any symbols, smiley face included.

I want to use this opportunity to plug a related feature coming in PTC Mathcad Prime 4.0, equation wrapping. In PTC Mathcad Prime 4.0 we’ll be reintroducing equation wrapping, though on a larger scale than in MC15.0. In the legacy product you can only wrap equations by inserting a special addition operator that extends the equation to the next line down. In PTC Mathcad Prime 4.0 you’ll be able to wrap existing equations on addition, subtraction, multiplication and inline division operators as well as naturally break equations at those operators as you write them. Formatting a long equation in your worksheet will become a whole lot easier (and nicer to look at).

Check back next week for part two of this blog which will focus on text formatting.

Try it out for free in PTC Mathcad Express.

]]>This is a powerful step forward for PTC Mathcad with regards to integration into the newest model of PTC Creo. These enhanced abilities will help immensely when it comes to product design, calculations, documentation, and late stage design changes. Check out what’s new in PTC Mathcad Prime 3.1 and learn more with this quick tutorial.

On the other hand, PTC Mathcad Prime also integrates with Solidworks. This enables Solidworks users to quickly and easily add analysis, verification and reporting to their engineering designs. The integration provides bidirectional communication between the two products, allowing PTC Mathcad Prime’s math engine to perform what-ifs, optimizations and Monte-Carlos on design parameters, testing for valid results and documenting the decisions made during the design process. Learn more about the Solidworks integration from this on-demand webinar.

Download the Solidworks Integration. Using both SolidWorks and PTC Mathcad Prime’s API, this AddIn lets users quickly drive PTC Mathcad Prime input variables from SolidWorks’ CAD model parameters. Users can also map PTC Mathcad Prime output results back to the SolidWorks CAD model. This creates the bi-directional nature of the integration.

*Note: PTC Mathcad/SolidWorks Integration is not officially supported by PTC.*

Learn more about the Engineering Notebook Powered by PTC Mathcad.

*Also requires PTC Creo 3.0 M030

]]>We all know that mathematical calculations are vital—they make up the backbone of any well-executed project or product. In fact, when you think about it, engineering calculations made during product design make up your company’s intellectual property. Yet many managers fail to capture their IP and, as a result, fail to make a critical invest in tomorrow’s products.

Too bad, because top companies know that with the right tools and processes, you can reuse today’s work for even faster delivery on the next project.

*“Successful product development companies effectively capture and protect their intellectual property (IP). IP includes the intangible assets that go into the development of a product and/or service. They are valuable in proving ownership and as well as providing leverage for future products. However, the analyses that support and validate those products and services are often stored on personal hard-drives, thumbdrives, and lab notebooks. This spread of data storage makes it challenging for companies to successfully manage the development of their IP. With increasing design complexity, it is crucial to document and capture key analyses used to determine which, how, and why design decisions were made.”–* Standardizing Engineering Calculations in a Product Development System.

Standardizing engineering calculations is a best practice for efficiently capturing, storing, and reusing IP. Why would you spend time redesigning and recalculating a product when you could simply use leverage previous work?

Finding a solution that will allow you to expertly document calculations as you work is imperative. That’s why some of the top engineering managers in the world use PTC Mathcad. Our engineering math software acts as a powerful tool for communicating among departments, teams, or locations. Your engineering team can use it to formalize standards and processes so that individuals aren’t implementing their own calculations, layouts, or formats. Best of all, PTC Mathcad is a highly visual platform so anyone on the team can easily read and comprehend text and graphics.

Learn more about why you should be standardizing you engineering calculations in our whitepaper Standardizing Engineering Calculations in a Product Development System.

Find more resources for Engineering Managers in our Engineering Calculations resource center.

]]>The same goes with PTC Mathcad. Whether you are a novice user or someone who has been using the software for 15 years, there are likely questions or equations you might want to ask an expert about.

That’s why we are excited to announce a new live demo offering “Ask the Experts.” Attend a live question and answer based session with PTC Mathcad expert Application Engineers. Bring your questions on the product, specific use cases or calculations. Get your answers real-time with live product demonstrations. Don’t have a specific question? Simply join to see how other PTC Mathcad users are using the engineering calculations software and get useful tips and tricks.

These sessions are limited, so reserve your spot today:

**September 10 ^{th} 1:00 PM EST:** Register Now

**September 15 ^{th} 8 AM EST**: Register Now

Don’t see a time that works for you? Check back each month for new dates and times or consult one of our many other free resources:

- The Community– participate in discussions, pose questions, or obtain answers from other PTC Mathcad users.
- PTC University Learning Exchange– over 40 free tutorials on the software marked by level and category.
- Demos– view over a dozen 90 second demos overviewing our most popular features.
- Chat with sales – have a sales related question? Speak with one of our PTC Mathcad sales reps live.
- PTC Mathcad Express– our free for life math software that gives you unlimited use of the most popular capabilities in the commercial version of PTC Mathcad.

A difficulty with this setup is that oftentimes, students will decide to major in something like Business in large part because they are trying to *avoid* taking math courses in college, which is reasonable. For some people, math is an alien language. So when they realize that they will not only have to take math, but they will have to take calculus, which, in the eyes of non-math minded people, is sometimes seen as being similar in complexity to String Theory, these students get a little bit nervous, don’t do well in class, and end up needing tutoring.

This is completely understandable. I’m sure everyone had at least one class that they dreaded taking and just had to white-knuckle it to make it out alive. And that’s what some of the students in College Algebra would do. They would white-knuckle it through College Algebra so that they could then brave the ferocious waters of Applied Calculus. In their minds, the two courses were distinct, separate challenges to overcome, so they were okay with barely surviving College Algebra. But what I often had to explain was that Calculus is impossible without a good understanding of algebra. Algebra is the foundation (okay, I suppose arithmetic is the foundation, but give me this one). Without at least a decent grasp on functions and solving for variables and manipulating equations and all the other algebra stuff, calculus doesn’t make any sense.

But this is not just true of calculus. Algebra is foundational to about every math, physics, and engineering course. For engineers, algebra is second nature. It no longer requires thought. I even had professors in college who would tell us that on tests, we only had to set up the problem, without having to actually solve it all out because they assumed that we knew how to perform algebraic manipulations. It was just a tedious waste of time to actually solve out the problems and only served to demonstrate an ability to do algebra rather than testing us on our actual knowledge of the engineering material.

And I think the same can be said about engineering calculations in the industry. Why waste time solving for a variable by hand? It may not be challenging, but it takes up valuable time and poses the risk of sign errors or other easy-to-make mistakes.

Here’s a simple example. Let’s say I have three resistors in parallel with each other and all of these resistors are in series with one other. If my design specifications require a certain voltage and current in the circuit and three of the four resistors have known values, what does the value of the fourth resistor need to be?

I could solve it by hand:

It’s not difficult by any means, but it is time consuming. How about we try using PTC Mathcad’s symbolic engine to solve the same problem?

This is clearly much more quickly accomplished, and PTC Mathcad worries about the signs and other algebra so you don’t have to. Again, this is a simple example, but I think the point is clear: Don’t waste time and risk errors by actually doing all of the algebra by hand. We all know you know how to do it. Save clutter, save time, save trees, and save errors. Let PTC Mathcad do your algebra for you.

See how you can leverage PTC Mathcad as your Algebra Problem Solver.

Try it out for free with PTC Mathcad Express.

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Download the PTC Mathcad 15.0 free trial.

]]>Using C++ , C#.NET or VB.NET , user interfaces can be developed to launch PTC Mathcad Prime, load a specific worksheet into PTC Mathcad Prime, set input values and retrieve results, then close worksheet and Mathcad Prime. All this can be accomplished with PTC Mathcad Prime being invisible. It still requires an installation of PTC Mathcad Prime, this is not a runtime engine, but when you start to think of this in the context of server based applications it becomes very interesting.

If you think of two-tier or three-tier architectures, with PTC Mathcad Prime as the last tier, we can think about all types of deployments. Web services have shown up as another technique to take these architectures specifically to the web as a platform. There is no need for me to document web services, others have done this is great volume.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Web_service

https://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ms950421.aspx

In Microsoft speak, developers can build a web application and connect to a single installation of PTC Mathcad Prime via a web service. Web services communicate over HTTP and web applications run on Web Server, so enter Microsoft IIS.

Microsoft IIS is a free webserver from Microsoft and is installed (not configured) on every windows platform. So ASP.NET applications reside on IIS and the end user interacts with the application via a browser. This is your two-tier application. Now let’s add the third tier, via web service, the web based application can have engineering calculations added to it. So PTC Mathcad Prime behaves as an analysis engine.

From a browser a user selects input values and clicks Submit. These values go from the ASP application to the web service and feeds server-side PTC Mathcad Prime info such as: *which worksheet to load, what input values would be, what are the results, close.* The results come back from PTC Mathcad Prime, through the web service and can be rendered as HTML in the user’s browser.

PTC will be demonstrating a number of integrations between PTC Mathcad Prime and other PTC products later this year using this technique.

Try it out for free with PTC Mathcad Express

Learn about the latest features in PTC Mathcad Prime 3.1. >>

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When highlighting math in an equation in PTC Mathcad there is historically a confusion of terms used to refer to the functionality – highlighting itself, selecting, grouping, even scoping, though that last one doesn’t seem to have made it outside conversations of the PTC Mathcad team itself. All of those words effectively mean the same thing – identifying a portion of math in the equation editor so you can perform some action on that math. However, how it works and what actions you can perform has changed subtly over the years. In PTC Mathcad Prime 3.1 we’ve taken the opportunity to simplify things.

PTC Mathcad Prime 3.1 help documentation refers to this functionality as ‘grouping.’ To keep things simple I’ll talk about the functionality ‘grouping’ and the visual indication to the user as ‘highlighting.’ In a worksheet, you can place the cursor in an equation and then drag left or right to highlight a portion of the equation. This is similar to highlighting in a text document but where things differ in PTC Mathcad is that as the highlighted area is enlarged we include only valid math terms. For example, in the following simple equation, placing the cursor at the right of the 3 and then dragging to the left highlights first the 3 and then the whole right hand side of the definition:

By including only valid math terms allows us to apply operators to those terms that are grouped. For example, if we want to divide 1 by the right hand side of the above example we can highlight it as shown and then simply press the division operator keyboard shortcut or select the operator from the UI:

That applies the division operator to the highlighted terms. With the kinds of complex equations you can create using PTC Mathcad Prime 3.1, it becomes incredibly useful to be able to group multiple terms and apply an operator to those grouped terms.

This is a good point to talk about keyboard shortcuts that help with this functionality. You can drag highlight in PTC Mathcad Prime 3.1, but we offer a number of shortcuts to give you more control. Placing the cursor in an equation and pressing the spacebar will highlight first the value or identifier it’s placed by and continuing to press the spacebar will group terms until the whole equation is highlighted. Pressing down Ctrl and repeatedly pressing the spacebar will then un-group those terms.

The position of the cursor – to the left or right of the value or identifier – will affect what gets grouped. Placed to the left of it, repeated pressing of the spacebar will group terms to the right. Placed to the right of it, repeated pressing of the spacebar will group terms to the left. If you want to control what direction grouping occurs in you can press Shift and the left arrow to group to the left or Shift plus the right arrow to group to the right. If you want to swap that direction you can move the cursor to the other end of the highlighted portion by pressing Shift and either the Home or End keys. Using the keyboard gives you very close control on exactly what ends up highlighted in your math.

You can also delete or copy/paste highlighted math but for more control over editing you can also overwrite edit it. This can be performed on single values, so if you want to change the coefficient of a variable you can highlight it and type the new value. But like before you can also highlight a term and group multiple terms and overwrite edit those. For example, in the following equation, if you place the cursor to the right of the 4 and press the spacebar the matrix value itself will be highlighted and you can overwrite edit the value itself:

– overwrite with 9:

Instead of overwrite editing the value, if you place the cursor to the right of the 4 and press the spacebar three times the subtraction operator and its operands will be highlighted and you can overwrite those grouped terms instead:

– overwrite with 9:

So once highlighted:

- You can apply an operator to grouped terms.
- You can overwrite edit grouped terms.
- You can of course delete or copy/paste grouped terms.

In the past we’ve used multiple methods to perform multiple functionality using multiple terms so hopefully with PTC Mathcad Prime 3.1 we’ve made things a little easier.

New to PTC Mathcad? Try it out for free with PTC Mathcad Express?

Learn other tips and tricks from our Community or watch one of our video tutorials.

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