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What are the basic principles of engineering design?

Hello friends,

Engineering college students when asked what they want to do after completing the engineering, they say, “Designing”.

Most of the time, they don’t know what is designing? Most of the students think it is 3D modeling which is designing. Few extends it to include analysis, which is one step closer, but many steps always from actual designing meaning.

To understand the basic principles of the engineering design, we first need to understand basic components of engineering design. Isn’t it? Then we apply various considerations, industry best practices, etc. to proceed with the design work.

Let me take example of mechanical engineering to understand what we mean. When we design any component, then we consider following factors:

  1. Purpose of the component (link, support, enclosure, fixture, etc.)

  2. Working conditions of the components

  3. Kinds of interaction of the component with other component

When we design any civil structure then we consider following considerations:

  1. Purpose of the structure (residential, commercial, transportation, etc.)

  2. Environment and surrounding in which the structure will be built.

  3. User conveniences (facilities and features)

When we design any IT system then we consider

  1. Purpose of the system (functional requirement)

  2. Environment (Technology, framework, data traffic, etc.)

  3. User acceptance and convenience (data security, mobility, speed, etc.)

You will find these three basic considerations being used in any industry. You can extend it to Electrical engineering, E&TC, Mechatronics, Aerospace, Manufacturing, medical, and so on.

Now we will go to next level for one branch as question is not including any specific branch. we will go with Mechanical.

Based on the answer of above three questions, we take next level of questions and considerations:

  1. What is the most suited materials? Simple cast iron, steel, alloys, etc. It is selected based on need. For example, latest car engines are made of aluminium alloy to reduce the weight. while same car will have sheet metal to make outer body for easy forming, Same car will even have chassis/frame/BIW and many parts made from steel plates, which are heavy but need to provide required strength. Same car will even have plastic products for interiors due to its ability to take any shape in casting to provide comfort at minimum weight. There will be fibers, glasses, and many such types of materials used in same car.

  2. What are the special treatment we need at surfaces of the parts?Consider piston and cylinder lining.These are most active parts in any automobile. Therefore we need to provide special metallurgical treatment to increase the hardness to withstand the rigor engagement between them. Similarly we provide special coating, like painting, powder coating, rubber coating, etc., to sheet metals to avoid rusting.

  3. How the part will be manufactured? It is the job of the designer to think about it. If the manufacturing is too difficult then the cost of manufacturing will increase. Take it even further, if the manufacturing is infeasible, then your design fails. To understand it, let’s say you have sheet metal of thickness 5 mm. you want to make a hole of 10 mm near an edge which is merely 2 mm away from the edge. It has a chance of developing crack at the time of manufacturing, hence it is an example of bad design in terms of manufacturability.

  4. How the maintenance activities will be performed? Consider the enclosure design of an item which is regularly maintained, let’s say, air filter. We know there are torque wrenches used in the manufacturing plants for fast assembly. So when we design for manufacturability (explained in above point) then we will make sure the torque wrench reaches properly to the nuts and volts. It looks fine up to this point, but there is another consideration we need to make. Are we sure all maintenance shop to have torque wrenches, or they may have manual wrench too. If yes then we if did not provide an option to use manual wrench then maintenance will become an issue. Every time the car will have to go to a location which has torque wrench. Would you like such limitations in your car due to wrong design by designer? Not at all.

  5. How the product will be used? Take a case of a genius boy who is designing two new cars. One is his dream racing car breaking all the records, and another is for his dream girlfriend(s) :). Do you think the features and handling will be same in both the cars. Racing car needs power, acceleration, stability, precise braking, etc., however the another one will need comfort, luxury, look, features, may be neon lighting, designer lights and most importantly easy to drive and reliable.

If you are able to understand above 5 points then you have started your journey to think like a true designer. There are more considerations, best practices, standards to be followed, but we personally encourage every young (even old) minds to think beyond the box. Whatever is available today, will be obsolete soon. Someone will come and provide your something better. So why not you?

You may like to take more points from our website which our team is enhancing on regular basis to provide more inputs to the best of our capacities. If you have any further question then you may connect with us through website.

Happy engineering, happy thinking, happy designing, happy innovating!


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