Mechanical design is a complex and variable process. Products designed by mechanical engineers run the gamut from a small item that can easily fit in the palm of your hand to complex machines that fill an entire room. Every design project offers unique challenges; however, certain generalizations can be made regarding best practices in mechanical design:
- Most mechanical design projects involve interaction with other disciplines. Mechanical design should proceed concurrently with electronic design and software development. The various aspects of a project should inform each other so that tradeoffs can be made early in the process.
- Mechanical design is best understood as a group effort. Designs are best accomplished by teams that have diverse, wide ranging experience related to the design and when most effective use is made of team members’ problem solving abilities. A diverse group that is free to share opinions in a nonthreatening atmosphere characterized by the free exchange of ideas will lead to the best result.
- Recognize that the design process is exactly that–a process that consists of a series of decisions. The best designs will change as the process progresses. Document decisions that are made and maintain a history of designs that were rejected. You never know when you may need to reconsider an idea that was previously eliminated.
- Multiple concepts are better than one. Use reverse engineering to understand the function of similar or related designs. Look at multiple ways of solving the problem at hand. Brainstorm solutions to explore a range of possible solutions.
- Make every effort to capture the customer’s requirements. Know who the customer is, what the customer wants, and how the design meets the customer’s expectations.
- Use Factor of Safety as a design variable. The design with the highest Factor of Safety is not automatically the best. Factor of Safety needs to be considered in relationship to other design variables. Similarly, develop tolerances consistent with needed function, fit and manufacturing methods rather than by habitually choosing a standard answer.
- Assess your design for cost, manufacturability, ease of assembly, reliability, maintainability, and sustainability. All of these factors need to be weighed against each other to optimize the design.
Duotech Services uses these seven best practices to optimize the mechanical design process to provide our customers with the very best mechanical designs. Contact us to see how we can best meet your needs.
Click below to watch a time lapse video of Duotech Engineers building a Seal Test Fixture designed test hydraulic seals for leaks in a series of different tests. Filmed over 4 weeks of assembly.