Mechanical engineering design is a part of the overall domain of mechanical engineering. The advent of mechanical engineering and the intrusion of equipment have largely redefined human lifestyles. Mechanized equipment, from tractors and cultivators to a wide variety of industrial machinery, had effected an explosion in agricultural productivity during the early 20th century. In the process, this promoted a massive shift from rural to urban life, resulting in the development of newer equipment for the urban economy. Hence mechanical engineering evolved at an ever accelerating rate over the century.
In mechanical engineering, the development of any product involves some broad steps as mentioned below. Mechanical engineering design is an integral part of this process and shapes the utility of the product developed to a large extent.
Step 1 – Identify the Idea and Concept
Step 2 – Define the Requirements for realizing the concept.
Step 3 – Gather relevant Information on similar products.
Step 4 – The Design Phase.
Step 5 – Prototypes.
Step 6 – Production.
The mechanical engineering design phase is perhaps the most significant and challenging. There are two main steps to a true design, as explained below. Design is a judicious mix of science and art, of analysis and synthesis.
1. Macro level design (conceptual design):
Here the fundamental and very basic ideas are evaluated. Various possibilities of reaching a goal or serving a specific purpose, are evaluated through brainstorming sessions and a detailed but reasonable list of requirements, at this stage. Viability and feasibility of the overall effort in compliance with the goal of the enterprise need to be understood. As ideas are evaluated, several things should be considered. A clear examination of the impact on time and cost goals for each concept is also done at this stage. In many cases technical innovation is required to accomplish a task. These are areas of technical stretch or PoP's (Proof of Principle).
2. Micro level design (principal design or characterization):
This is where the details of the design are worked out and are composed. This is the stage of hard-core design. Most of the technical resources and assets of the enterprise are best utilized in this stage so that the fundamental engineering is done in best form. This stage looks into –
Adherence to requirements.
Resolution of conflicts and issues
Review for manufacturing feasibility.
This stage also encompasses design optimization where every step of iteration of the design is tried out to reach the best outcome.
One aspect that remains of high significance throughout the process of mechanical engineering design is 'Quality'. It is very important to have set processes that check quality of the product from a perspective that can be most alien to the overall product development atmosphere. A complete unbiased and customer focused effort to identify quality standards is essential in any engineering design.