Calculations are at the heart of the design for any complex product, so the ability to share and reuse critical calculations and IP is vitally important. Sometimes companies believe they can rely on spreadsheets to store calculations but spreadsheet data is hard to maintain and share.

Mathcad vs MATLAB Comparison

The real solution to this dilemma is Engineering Calculation Software such as Mathcad or MATLAB, but not many companies know how to evaluate such a specialized solution. That’s why we’ve created this comparison of Mathcad vs MATLAB. Here’s how these two leading solutions stack up.

Mathcad and MATLAB are the leading engineering calculation software platforms available but the question is, which one is better?

Integration with CAD Solutions: Advantage Mathcad

Since the whole reason to have an engineering math solution is to speed up and streamline product design, one of the most important criteria should be a seamless integration with your CAD solution. Mathcad integrates with the entire PTC toolbox, including ThingWorx and Creo for IoT, robotics, machine learning and AR. Engineers can access the computation and calculation library while in the design process, and embed calculations in reports, sketches or spec sheets.

MATLAB can integrate with CAD systems, but it’s a more complex process, so many companies simply settle for file sharing rather than true integration.

Standardized Math Notation and Data Types: Tie Score

It makes no sense to try to streamline your design process and then force the engineering team to learn a new method for performing calculations. Luckily, both systems follow standardized mathematical notation for data analysis. Mathcad also offers support for customized functions, while MATLAB includes the ability to accept data for Big Data Analytics. This category is a wash.

Secure Access and Visibility Control: Advantage Mathcad

Mathcad offers password protection to calculations and allows you to lock content or hide proprietary information. This makes it easy to work with third parties without compromising or endangering the company’s intellectual property (IP).

The Mathcad platform includes password capabilities for additional IP protection.

Industry Support: Advantage Mathcad

MATLAB claims support for 22 distinct industries. That’s a lot of industries for one company to support, which implies there is very little in the way of true industry specialization. The industries they claim are highly diverse and include such highly differentiated industries as medical devices, financial services, and mining.

Mathcad, on the other hand, offers general engineering math calculations, but has industry specializations in civil and structural engineering, electrical engineering, and mechanical engineering. They offer additional free worksheets for chemical engineering, and of course, PTC is well known for its manufacturing expertise.

Interoperability: Advantage Mathcad

We’ve already mentioned Mathcad’s seamless integration with PTC’s suite of engineering, CAD, and 3D design tools. It also works with Excel and other Microsoft Office desktop applications, so your team can create attractive reports and documents that include data visualizations, images, sketches, and graphs. One of the best uses for this is the ability to create Engineering Notebooks to document the entire thought process behind the design. This is a two-way capability. For example, Mathcad worksheets can be embedded directly into a Creo design, or the user can drive Mathcad calculations from the Creo design.

Mathcad’s “Engineering Notebooks” help document the entire design process from idea, to calculation verification, to the final design.

MATLAB boasts of over 500 partner solutions, but many of them are small and highly specialized. You may find a few of them helpful depending on your circumstances, but most will be of little or no value to an individual company.

Usability and Speed: Tied

One of the primary reasons for adopting an engineering calculation system is to speed up and streamline the design process. To that end, you want to look for a solution that has a familiar user interface and that can crunch large data volumes quickly.

MATLAB is structured like a series of toolboxes, each with a specialized purpose. For example, there’s an aerospace toolbox, a robotics system toolbox, an LTE toolbox, and many others. Each toolbox includes reference examples, but the UI differs slightly from product to product. It’s also difficult to determine which functions are included in a toolbox, or to decide which toolboxes your company really needs.

MATLAB can quickly process large data volumes using a variety of formats so once you are set up, things will probably move swiftly.

Mathcad comes complete with a series of worksheets, each clearly labeled as to use. PTC also offers some highly specialized worksheets for purchase. In addition, the community can post other worksheets, which are free to download.

Each worksheet provided by PTC uses a similar UI, so it’s easy for engineers to move between worksheets or between Mathcad and Creo and back, for instance. Mathcad is no slouch in the processing speed, either.

Both Mathcad and MATLAB provide specialized tools for numerous industries and uses.

Free Worksheet Libraries: Advantage Mathcad

We already mentioned the library of free and paid worksheets that PTC provides for Mathcad. Even though some are additional costs, the majority are free, and this majority includes all but the highly specialized ones.

MATLAB’s toolboxes are all separate purchases, making Mathcad a comparative bargain.

Training and Support: Tie Score

Mathcad provides free eLearning, live classroom learning, online help and a robust community to help customers get up and running quickly. This is a great benefit when just starting out as well as when engineers change jobs, or you must bring new hires on board. The developer’s portal is also a good source for technical advice.

MATLAB offers installation help, online tutorials and documentation as well as examples and a user forum for asking questions of other users.

Engineering Calculation Software Winner: PTC Mathcad

Both engineering calculation tools are excellent. PTC Mathcad is obviously designed for the engineering environment, while MATLAB betrays its roots as a mathematics tool designed for mathematicians clearly. Both have their fair share of mathematical bells and whistles. The choice comes down to which tool will work best in your environment.

Mathcad is mainly for engineers while MATLAB is for mathematicians.

As our Mathcad vs MATLAB analysis shows, we support Mathcad. We openly admit to a bit of bias, because we are one of PTC’s largest resellers. Even so, we tried to be fair and open, judging each tool on how well it works in the engineering design process, rather than just the emphasis on math, where the tools are evenly matched.

To learn more about the benefits of an engineering calculation tool in general, or Mathcad in particular, contact NxRev today.