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AetherMachines design methodology begins with 3D modeling from which 3D machining, 3D *.stl printing, and 2D manufacturing drawings are produced. This approach also produces models used in mechanical, fluid, thermal, and vibrational FEM analyses. Solidworks 2013 with FEM Simulation and CFD along with Alibre Design 2012 are used to draw the 3D models, which then can be disseminated in native form or in any of the common 3D file formats.
FEM analysis of 3D parts is especially useful in determining stresses, overall factors of safety, fluid drag, thermal conduction, and vibrational modes prior to manufacture and test. For micro air vehicles, FEM can be used to select between competing materials by performing strength/weight tradeoffs. Specific design features can also be iterated for robustness to expected static and cyclic loads.
When they can be accurately posed, symbolic models are excellent descriptors and themselves can be directly simulated and iterated in Mathematica. Symbolic models usually involve extensive algebra and algorithms described in their common mathematical notation, symbolic differentiation and integration, as well as Laplace and Fourier transformation techniques.
Numerical analysis is applied when closed form or analytics become to complex to pose or cumbersome to execute. Examples are Bode, root locus, and system identification analyses, numerical differentiation and integration, physical phenomena description and modeling such as atmospheric conditions, and general data plotting and descriptive statistics generation. Both MATLAB and Mathematica are used for numerics.
SPICE circuit simulations are an excellent method for exploring expected circuit dissipation, timing, frequency, and boundary condition behavior for unexpected complications, prior to actual circuit bench test and PCB spin. SPICE analysis is performed using NI Multisim 12.x or B2SPICE and targets portions of the circuit design containing the greatest uncertainty or susceptibilty to component variation or transient damage.