Dr. Frame3D

You could design an A-frame ski lodge with a standard CAD program, but a CAD program can’t predict how much snow would cause the roof to collapse. For that, and for other load-capacity structural prediction, you need Dr. Frame3D, a spectacular real-time engineering program.

Dr. Frame3D has beamlike structural elements, joins, pivots, and hinges for assembling on-screen framework structures. Test a structure by applying forces in various magnitudes and directions (see “Feedback”).

Defining structures is quick and simple; you use elements represented by little icons located on the left side of the screen, or prefabricated structures in the Modeling menu.

It’s remarkable that the on-screen structure responds instantly to applied forces. Until recently, this rapid response capability was seen only in supercomputers or workstation clusters with custom software—now you can have it on an iBook with student software that costs less than $100.

Dr. Frame3D summarizes forces and deflections in detailed tables, and outputs results as JPEG images, as XML, and as text. But it can’t import standard CAD structures.

Macworld’s Buying Advice

Dr. Frame3D offers instant feedback on the mechanical properties of your structures. It’s easy to learn, it has every feature you might reasonably require, and it sells for the lowest price ever seen for this kind of software. It should be part of every designer’s tool kit.

Applied forces test these simple structures.

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