What is the Mechanical design process ?

The process through which mechanical systems are designed

Beginning with the simple potter’s wheel and evolving to complex consumer products and transportation systems, humans have been designing mechanical objects for a thousand of years. Each of these objects is the end result of a long and often difficult design process

Regardless of the nature of a physical thing anything which has been invented by mankind has gone through a process of mechanical design. A process of research discovery, design, analysis and testing.

Why is the need to study a process for mechanical design?

If thousands and thousands of products have been invented by people with average intellect and from mundane backgrounds, then there has to be some basic thought process associated with these ventures.

There is no magic trick which brings this about, rather a labored process which when studied can help an inventor to realize his/her idea much faster and more efficiently

Today, there is a continuous need for new, cost-effective, high-quality products. New product development enhances the state of living and generates wealth for the economy. Today in the world of information, knowledge is new wealth.  Developing new products helps to generate Intellectual property

Measures of an effective design process

  •  Product cost,
  •  Quality,
  •  Time to market

Traditional method of product design – Over the wall design process

Requirements are captured from the customer by the marketing team and then handed over to the design team. The design team completes the design and hands over the project to the production team for implementation.

Drawbacks of this process are that designers and engineers don't have access to the customer requirements. Each function is isolated from the bigger picture and hence this type of product development process is inefficient when complex products are to be designed.  Design is a cross functional effort and must involve all major stakeholders at every stage of project. Due to these inefficiencies in the traditional process, Concept of Simultaneous engineering and concurrent engineering came into being.

The basic actions of problem solving in mechanical design

1. Establish the need or realize that there is a problem to be solved.

2. Plan how to solve the problem.

3. Understand the problem by developing requirements and uncovering existing

solutions for similar problems.

4. Generate alternative solutions.

5. Evaluate the alternatives by comparing them to the design requirements and

to each other.

6. Decide on acceptable solutions.

7. Communicate the results

Importance of knowledge and learning during design

When a new design problem is begun, very little may be known about the solution, especially if the problem is a new one for the designer. As work on the project progresses, the designer’s knowledge about the technologies involved and the alternative solutions increases and ultimately by the end of the project the designer understands the nitty and gritty of the product.

Types of basic design problems

Selection design – Involves choosing one item in a list of other similar items. Like choosing an item from a catalogue. This may seem simple but, in the case, where the choices are many and multi-layered the decision can be complex. For example, the selection of a bearing for a shaft. There would be multiple types of bearings but without proper knowledge of application the designer would not make a wise choice of the bearing.

Configuration design – Slightly more complex version of selection design is when there are multiple configurations with multiple options. The problem is how to assemble the selected the components in the best package possible?

Parametric design – A typical analytical problem where calculations have to be made to arrive at the specification and design. Something like designing a cylindrical tank for storage of a given volume of water.

Redesign – modifications of existing system to meet new needs. Most are routine jobs which involve modifying certain features or extending certain specifications.

Original design - Any time the design problem requires the development of a process, assembly,

or component not previously in existence it calls for an original design.

Variant design - A variant is a customized product designed to meet the needs of the customer.

Categories: Design process