Autodesk seems to be pushing out new (and FREE) tools every week or so, many of which are mobile apps for iPhone and iPad users. While catching up on emails in the manufacturing lounge at Autodesk University this year, I was fortunate enough to sit down with Andrew Sears (Solutions Engineer, Autodesk) who provided me with an inpromptu demo of ForceEffect, a free app that allows engineers to draw, constrain and simulate concepts using free body diagrams by simply tapping objects to select, move, rotate and scale.
It's very easy to create free-body diagrams and generate dimensionally correct elements - you use familiar iPhone/iPad motions to sketch and snap to other elements on the sketch. In addition, you can also bring in a photo as a background for either modifying existing designs or creating new ones. Once you've placed your elements, you apply forces, unknown forces or moments and then add supports such as sliding pins, fixed pins, grounded, fixed or welded.
Sketch geometry can be moved, re-sized, deleted and dimensions can be edited simply by tapping the dimension value and entering the size you require. Autodesk ForceEffect also generates a report that can be printed, emailed or viewed using any Web browser. In addition, export capabilities enable easy workflow continuation in any CAD application by emailing and exporting the sketch to a DXF file that can be reused in tools like AutoCAD Mechanical and Autodesk Inventor.
You can download ForceEffect from the Appled iTunes store here - http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/autodesk-forceeffect/id476321600?ls=1&mt=8