We get this question a lot. It depends a lot on exactly what you are attempting to accomplish, and your experience level with Stacks. While MecaStack is a very powerful design tool, it does not do everything. There is a learning curve associated with designing the stack and getting familiar with the most common mode of failure in stacks, which is Vortex Shedding. In addition, there are many details of an analysis, which may not be completely addressed by MecaStack. Here are some common areas:
The software can handle some basic simple breech analysis. However if you have a larger breech or a complicated arrangement, then we strongly recommend Finite Element Analysis (FEA). Meca performs FEA on about ¾ of our Breech. Although it would be nice to handle this within MecaStack, it is a very complicated issue with a huge number of variable, so unfortunately it is not practical.
MecaStack will check the stack for bending stresses due to lifting, and it will calculate the reactions at the lift points. However it will not design the actual lifting lugs, tailing lugs, or lifting trunnions. These involve a specialized analysis that should be done outside of MecaStack.
MecaStack cannot check local stresses due to nozzle loads from connecting piping. It can consider the global effect on the stack (model as External Loading), but not the local effects.
There are countless other special considerations on stacks that are not considered directly by the software. We are unable to mention them all, but here are a few: Internal Riser, Liners, Piping Thermal Expansion, Supporting Brackets, Piggy Back Stacks, and etc.
With all this being said, a lot of users do still end up purchasing MecaStack and utilizing the software to analyze their situation. We just want to advise you up front that the software will not do everything. However it does give you a huge advantage over attempting to design a stack with a blank piece of paper.