Facilities and Other Services
Robotics & Automation Engineering

image of Finite element analysis of main load bearing element

Finite element analysis of main load bearing element

image of DepthX

Click image to view video.
Automated mold handling concept.

image of Solid model of a F-16 wing removal tool. View video in Windows Media.

Solid model of a F-16 wing removal tool. View the video.

image of High-speed video

High-speed video. View the video.

image of Robotics test bed

Robotics test bed

Many services and tools that aren't available or practical for businesses to support are available at Southwest Research Institute (SwRI). Our engineers have years of experience with various tools and technologies, such as:

The list below is just a partial summary of these tools and services available. Contact us to discuss your specific needs.

Finite Element Analysis

SwRI uses state-of-the-art software for finite element stress and thermal analysis combined with years of engineering experience to produce accurate and reliable results.


The key to selling an idea is not only good sound engineering but also a way to illustrate that idea. Animations illustrate how a design functions. We can create animations based on a 3D CAD model that simulate mechanisms and can create to realistic lifelike animations that provide a clear picture of what the end product will look like.

Animation Links:

Dynamic Simulations

Failing to adequately account for dynamic loading is a leading cause of failure for mechanical systems. SwRI can simulate loading conditions using 3D solid model geometry for evaluating a design before any part is made. These simulations reduce risk and minimize costly mistakes.

3D Printing/Rapid Prototyping

SwRI has rapid prototyping on site. Rapid prototyping allows us to create complex parts that might be cost prohibitive or not feasible using standard fabrication and machining methods. Using rapid prototyping, we keep costs down and schedules condensed. In addition, rapid prototyping is used for dry fitting complex assemblies before investing in costly parts or mass production.

High-Speed Video

As processes speed up, so must the methods to capture and evaluate them. We use high-speed video capture for troubleshooting equipment and processes.

High-Speed Video Links:

Solid Modeling

SwRI designers use state-of-the-art 3D solid modeling software. We have designed everything from simple parts to complex mechanisms and assemblies. We can produce anything from conceptual models to fully detailed designs complete with engineering drawings.

Machine Shop

SwRI has a large array of machine shop capabilities. The machine shop allows us to assure the highest quality and quick turnaround for our clients. In addition, engineers and machinists are in constant contact to ensure parts are made correctly and to the specifications established in the design requirements. This resource allows for fabrication of quality parts with a short lead time and competitive cost.

Noncontacting 3D Measurement System

We developed a high-resolution noncontact 3D measurement system for creating precise 3D models of delicate or critical components. The system works by using projected light and resultant shadows to determine geometry. The system is so precise, it was used to create 3D models of delicate NASA shuttle tiles.

Machine Vision Laboratory

The SwRI machine vision laboratory has state-of-the-art equipment and software for prototyping machine vision applications. Because we own a wide variety of equipment, there is typically no need for our clients to absorb the high costs of cameras, lighting, and other materials for feasibility testing. Potential machine vision algorithms and applications can be tested with our equipment.

Robotics and Automation Assembly and Testing Facilities

Our robotics and automation assembly and testing facilities include more than 5,000 square feet of prototyping, equipment, and test space. The space allows for complete builds and testing of first article systems before they are delivered to the client.

Robotics Test Bed

The robotics test bed at SwRI allows us to test and develop robotics applications, end effectors, and control algorithms. Utilizing the test bed reduces development risk and provides a resource for client and internal application prototyping.

Related Terminology

robotics  •  automation engineering  •  system integration  •  finite element  •  animation  •  simulation  •  rapid prototyping  •  vision  •  prototype

Benefiting government, industry and the public through innovative science and technology
Southwest Research Institute® (SwRI®), headquartered in San Antonio, Texas, is a multidisciplinary, independent, nonprofit, applied engineering and physical sciences research and development organization with 9 technical divisions.