Software helps design instrument arrays

SolidWorks’ Cosmos design analysis software is helping a marine research institute develop instrumentation that can withstand ocean depths of up to 13,000 ft (4,000 m).


SolidWorks ’ Cosmos design analysis software is helping a marine research institute develop instrumentation that can withstand ocean depths of up to 13,000 ft (4,000 m).

Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI), established by Hewlett-Packard co-founder David Packard, conducts advanced research in the deep waters of California’s Monterey Bay. The institute’s core engineering group works with researchers to design instruments and remote-controlled submersible exploration vehicles using CosmosWorks design analysis software and SolidWorks 3-D mechanical design software.

Engineers design the equipment in SolidWorks, then use CosmosWorks to determine if it will withstand water pressure and function as intended. CosmosWorks allows various loads to be applied on designs to simulate their behavior as physical objects. The action significantly reduces the number of prototypes needed to detect and repair mistakes. The software’s fluid dynamics analysis features help determine how the heat generated by the electronics affects the design.

MBARI designs and produces an average of 50 new instruments a year and modifies and maintains existing equipment. Products for undersea exploration must be designed by balancing strength and weight to handle extreme conditions using as little material as possible. Among products maintained by the group is a remotely operated submersible vehicle rated for 13,000 ft (4,000 m) with an instrument package that has to withstand 6,000 psi (414 bar).

MBARI is a private, non-profit research center employing approximately 200. MBARI scientists propose and execute experimental and theoretical studies in ocean sciences, and work in partnership with engineers and operations staff to develop or adapt supporting technology. SolidWorks Corp. develops and markets software for mechanical design, analysis, and product data management.

—Jeanine Katzel, senior editor, Control Engineering,

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