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Once theory is applied to a mechanical design, physical testing is often performed to verify calculated results. Structural analysis may be used in an office when designing parts, in the field to analyze failed parts, or in laboratories where parts might undergo controlled failure tests. Thermodynamics is an applied science used in several branches of engineering, including mechanical and chemical engineering. At its simplest, thermodynamics is the study of energy, its use and transformation through a system. As an example, automotive engines convert chemical energy enthalpy from the fuel into heat, and then into mechanical work that eventually turns the wheels.

Thermodynamics principles are used by mechanical engineers in the fields of heat transfer , thermofluids , and energy conversion. Mechanical engineers use thermo-science to design engines and power plants , heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning HVAC systems, heat exchangers , heat sinks , radiators , refrigeration , insulation , and others. Drafting or technical drawing is the means by which mechanical engineers design products and create instructions for manufacturing parts. A technical drawing can be a computer model or hand-drawn schematic showing all the dimensions necessary to manufacture a part, as well as assembly notes, a list of required materials, and other pertinent information.

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Drafting has historically been a two-dimensional process, but computer-aided design CAD programs now allow the designer to create in three dimensions. Optionally, an engineer may also manually manufacture a part using the technical drawings. However, with the advent of computer numerically controlled CNC manufacturing, parts can now be fabricated without the need for constant technician input.

Manually manufactured parts generally consist spray coatings , surface finishes, and other processes that cannot economically or practically be done by a machine. Drafting is used in nearly every subdiscipline of mechanical engineering, and by many other branches of engineering and architecture. Many mechanical engineering companies, especially those in industrialized nations, have begun to incorporate computer-aided engineering CAE programs into their existing design and analysis processes, including 2D and 3D solid modeling computer-aided design CAD.

This method has many benefits, including easier and more exhaustive visualization of products, the ability to create virtual assemblies of parts, and the ease of use in designing mating interfaces and tolerances. Other CAE programs commonly used by mechanical engineers include product lifecycle management PLM tools and analysis tools used to perform complex simulations. Analysis tools may be used to predict product response to expected loads, including fatigue life and manufacturability.

Using CAE programs, a mechanical design team can quickly and cheaply iterate the design process to develop a product that better meets cost, performance, and other constraints. No physical prototype need be created until the design nears completion, allowing hundreds or thousands of designs to be evaluated, instead of a relative few. In addition, CAE analysis programs can model complicated physical phenomena which cannot be solved by hand, such as viscoelasticity, complex contact between mating parts, or non-Newtonian flows. As mechanical engineering begins to merge with other disciplines, as seen in mechatronics , multidisciplinary design optimization MDO is being used with other CAE programs to automate and improve the iterative design process.

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MDO tools wrap around existing CAE processes, allowing product evaluation to continue even after the analyst goes home for the day. They also utilize sophisticated optimization algorithms to more intelligently explore possible designs, often finding better, innovative solutions to difficult multidisciplinary design problems. Mechanical engineers are constantly pushing the boundaries of what is physically possible in order to produce safer, cheaper, and more efficient machines and mechanical systems. Some technologies at the cutting edge of mechanical engineering are listed below see also exploratory engineering.

Micron-scale mechanical components such as springs, gears, fluidic and heat transfer devices are fabricated from a variety of substrate materials such as silicon, glass and polymers like SU8. Examples of MEMS components are the accelerometers that are used as car airbag sensors, modern cell phones, gyroscopes for precise positioning and microfluidic devices used in biomedical applications.

The innovative steady state non-fusion welding technique joins materials previously un-weldable, including several aluminum alloys. It plays an important role in the future construction of airplanes, potentially replacing rivets. Current uses of this technology to date include welding the seams of the aluminum main Space Shuttle external tank, Orion Crew Vehicle test article, Boeing Delta II and Delta IV Expendable Launch Vehicles and the SpaceX Falcon 1 rocket, armor plating for amphibious assault ships, and welding the wings and fuselage panels of the new Eclipse aircraft from Eclipse Aviation among an increasingly growing pool of uses.

Composites or composite materials are a combination of materials which provide different physical characteristics than either material separately. Composite material research within mechanical engineering typically focuses on designing and, subsequently, finding applications for stronger or more rigid materials while attempting to reduce weight , susceptibility to corrosion, and other undesirable factors. Carbon fiber reinforced composites, for instance, have been used in such diverse applications as spacecraft and fishing rods.

Mechatronics is the synergistic combination of mechanical engineering, electronic engineering , and software engineering.

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The discipline of mechatronics began as a way to combine mechanical principles with electrical engineering. Mechatronic concepts are used in the majority of electro-mechanical systems. At the smallest scales, mechanical engineering becomes nanotechnology—one speculative goal of which is to create a molecular assembler to build molecules and materials via mechanosynthesis. For now that goal remains within exploratory engineering. Areas of current mechanical engineering research in nanotechnology include nanofilters, [43] nanofilms, [44] and nanostructures, [45] among others.

Finite Element Analysis is a computational tool used to estimate stress, strain, and deflection of solid bodies.

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It uses a mesh setup with user-defined sizes to measure physical quantities at a node. The more nodes there are, the higher the precision. In the recent times, cloud simulation platforms like SimScale are becoming more common. Other techniques such as finite difference method FDM and finite-volume method FVM are employed to solve problems relating heat and mass transfer, fluid flows, fluid surface interaction, etc. Biomechanics is the application of mechanical principles to biological systems, such as humans , animals , plants , organs , and cells. Biomechanics is closely related to engineering , because it often uses traditional engineering sciences to analyze biological systems.

In the past decade, reverse engineering of materials found in nature such as bone matter has gained funding in academia. The structure of bone matter is optimized for its purpose of bearing a large amount of compressive stress per unit weight. Over the past decade the Finite element method FEM has also entered the Biomedical sector highlighting further engineering aspects of Biomechanics.

FEM has since then established itself as an alternative to in vivo surgical assessment and gained the wide acceptance of academia.

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The main advantage of Computational Biomechanics lies in its ability to determine the endo-anatomical response of an anatomy, without being subject to ethical restrictions. Computational fluid dynamics, usually abbreviated as CFD, is a branch of fluid mechanics that uses numerical methods and algorithms to solve and analyze problems that involve fluid flows.

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Computers are used to perform the calculations required to simulate the interaction of liquids and gases with surfaces defined by boundary conditions. Ongoing research yields software that improves the accuracy and speed of complex simulation scenarios such as turbulent flows. Initial validation of such software is performed using a wind tunnel with the final validation coming in full-scale testing, e. Acoustical engineering is one of many other sub-disciplines of mechanical engineering and is the application of acoustics.

Acoustical engineering is the study of Sound and Vibration. These engineers work effectively to reduce noise pollution in mechanical devices and in buildings by soundproofing or removing sources of unwanted noise.

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The study of acoustics can range from designing a more efficient hearing aid, microphone, headphone, or recording studio to enhancing the sound quality of an orchestra hall. Acoustical engineering also deals with the vibration of different mechanical systems. Manufacturing engineering , aerospace engineering and automotive engineering are grouped with mechanical engineering at times.

A bachelor's degree in these areas will typically have a difference of a few specialized classes. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Engineering discipline and economic branch. W16 engine of the Bugatti Veyron. Mechanical engineers design engines , power plants , other machines Main article: History of mechanical engineering.

Main article: Mechanics. Main articles: Mechatronics and Robotics. Main articles: Structural analysis and Failure analysis. Main article: Thermodynamics. Main articles: Technical drawing and CNC. Main article: Friction stir welding. Main article: Composite material. Main article: Nanotechnology.

See also: Picotechnology. Main article: Finite element analysis. Main article: Biomechanics.