I have used the free, multibody dynamics software MBDyn for a while now. It is a good program and also fits my needs. There are good manuals, basic tutorials and examples to be found. There is also a mailing list. The plotting program I had to write myself but there are even suggestions for how to do that.
But as I get further into MBDyn I find slight problems constructing the models. I can't say if it is only my own lack of background in engineering and algebra that is the problem. (MBDyn interfaces with the graphical environment Blender, both for input and output, but for me a text interface for input is sufficient, so far.)
So my question is: What software for multibody dynamics is available on the market?
I am interested in connecting solid objects by elastic and deformable joints, like hinges, ball joints etc. I wish to see how the bodies move when forces are applied and "springs and damping" interact with the connected bodies.
I have never worked with the Finite Elements Method (FEM). I don't think that is what I need. I think that is more for modeling continuous structures like fluids, gases, solid materials etc. (I wish to model beams, but I think that this also done in multibody dynamics (MBDyn does it well). I don't need any detailed internal information from the beam. I just need to know "a little bit how it bends".) I do not need any information about internal forces in the objects, just how they move.
So please tell, what multibody dynamics software exist? And, if possible, what are their differences?