Mechanical design is one of the mechanical engineering principles which describe the foundations for the operation of mechanical systems. To learn more about these principles read this article.
This generally involves developing procedures to move a concept from idea to reality, including sketches, technical drawings, 3D models, compliance with norms and standards, among other aspects.
All those aspects form the essence of mechanical design, and you will be learning about them here.
What is Mechanical Design?
Mechanical design is the process of crafting a mechanism or component to meet desired needs. In other words, it is a decision-making process, many times iterative, in which the principles of mechanics and mathematics are applied to transform resources into an optimized solution to fulfill a stated objective.
In general, mechanical design uses mathematics, materials, and the engineering-mechanics sciences.
What are the steps to solve a mechanical design problem?
Depending on the problem at hand, there may be differences in the steps the designer will take to reach a solution. However, a standard procedure to move a concept from idea to reality usually involves the following:
- Define the problem.
- Gather pertinent information.
- Generation of concepts.
- Analyze and select a solution.
- Test and implement the solution.
This is considered the most critical step of mechanical design. A problem that is not defined correctly might result in a solution that actually works but does not cover the needs of the target user.
For example, a valve may cover the need for controlling the flow, but it may not cover the need for working with corrosive fluids if the right material is not used. Simply put, the problem should not only be defined as how to control the flow, but how to control the flow of corrosive fluids.
The problem definition must include all the specifications that are required for the design. A specification will be anything that limits the designer’s freedom of choice.
At this point, two things can happen. The designer could have loads of information to deal with and filter in order to keep only what is useful, or there may be little to no information at all.
Therefore, the commitment, knowledge, and expertise of the designer are very important to sort any of those difficult situations. Knowing where to find reliable and necessary information is vital for mechanical design.
Here is where creativity is essential. The designer generates different concept ideas and saves them for further analysis and final selection.
Analysis and selection
Different analyses can be performed at this point. Which ones to use will depend on the nature of the problem at hand. Common analysis include:
- Functional analysis
- Industrial design/Ergonomics
- Mechanical/Strength analysis
- Product safety and liability
- Economic and market analysis
- Regulatory and Compliance
Here is where mechanical engineering calculations take place based on selected criteria. Using a decision matrix is recommended to avoid biased decisions.
This is the final stage of the standard procedure. It usually requires the development of sketches, technical drawings, and 3D models for documentation and patent applications, as well as some prototyping when possible. An alternative for this whole step is using concurrent engineering.
There you have it. This is an overview of what mechanical design involves. Clearly, different skills are required for success, including creativity, mechanical engineering calculation, technical drawing, 3D modeling, and so on.
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Keywords: mechanical design, mechanical engineering