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THE MECHANICAL DESIGN PROCESS

The Mechanical Design Process has been used by thousands of engineering students and practitioners since 1992 to aid in developing quality, robust products. 

2019 by David G. Ullman

Case Studies

Thirteen case studies demonstrate how the methods described in the text support design best practices used in industry.  Each study was written in cooperation with an engineer involved in the original project.  All of the case studies have been published in a single volume listed at $19.95 (click on the cover to purchase). 

 

Optionally you can select and purchase individual case studies here for $3.95 each.

List $19.95

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This case study details the development of the Marin Mount Vision Pro mountain bicycle rear suspension. The designers used a structured method that progressed from Constraints to Configurations to Connections to Components . This methodology helped them ensure that the final configuration met the needs. 

 

From Constraints To Components At Marin Bicycles

Sound Devices designs and manufactures equipment that records the audio you hear in movies. A unique feature of the 788T High Resolution Digital Audio Recorder is that printed circuit boards (PC boards) not only serve their intended purpose for mounting and connecting electronic components but also the physical mounting and support for the controls. This case study uses Design for Assembly (DFA) methods to evaluate the design of these boards.

Multi-duty PC Boards At Sound Devices

This case study details Syncromatics’ development of their Solar Powered Shelter Signs. These signs are erected to communicate bus arrival times and destinations to riders waiting at a bus stop giving riders clear information about what to expect and when. They used a spiral development process to integrate hardware, electronics and software.

Spiral Product Development At Syncromatics

BigToys used their customers to help them redefine the see-saw. The see-saw or teeter-totter used to be common on most playgrounds, but due to safety issues has all but disappeared. BigToys saw this opportunity and designed a new toy to fill the gap. The case study develops BigToys' participatory design with children, even down to a contest for children to name the product. Emphasized is how BigToys informally used the Quality Function Deployment (QFD) process to design a very innovative product.

Reinventing The See-Saw At BigToys           

Eclipse, Inc., one of the world’s leading manufacturers of industrial burners used for heat treating, drying, curing, and industrial process heating had a problem. While they had plants on three continents and while their business was strong, they had at least three versions of the truth. If a part was needed for a product, a product that could be manufactured in the U.S., Asia or Europe, there were multiple CAD models for the part. And, not every model in each of the areas accurately reflected the “official” drawing of the part in the system. Even worse, if a change was made to fix a problem or meet a customer’s need, it was unlikely that the change would make it to all the part representations.. This case study explores their journey, the benefits achieved, and evolving world of product data management.

Achieving A Single Truth At Eclipse

Q-Drive develops and manufactures thermo-acoustic cryocoolers, machines that liquefy gases with simple, small-scale machines.  John Corey, Q-Drive’s founder and chief designer had a problem in getting rid of the heat removed from the gas.  John developed and patented a very simple fin style heat exchanger made of inter-locking extruded elements.   His design process is explored in this case study.

All Hot And Nowhere To Go At Q-Drive

Ecovative grows their products out of a fully biodegradable material made from agri-waste and mushroom roots.  This Mushroom® Packaging case study is about Ecovative’s entirely new process for growing packaging to meet the needs of Steelcase, a manufacturer of office furniture.  This case study focuses on their process and how to measure its sustainability versus the traditional styrene.

Designing With Mushrooms At Ecovative

In an effort to reduce CO2 emissions and develop a distinctive electric driving experience, BMW initiated a program to develop a hybrid version of their 5-Series, high end car.   They needed to develop a concept that on the one hand realized the fuel economy potential of hybrid technology, and on the other, offered typical powertrain characteristics and drivability.  Further, they wanted an architecture that would allow them flexibility to evolve more sophisticated systems, scaling from a mild-hybrid to plug-in-hybrid.  The engineers used different types of design matrices to support the 5-Series hybrid BMW development.

Designing A Hybrid Car At BMW

A key need in manned space exploration is a reliable Portable Life Support System (PLSS).  These systems provide all of the functions necessary to keep the astronaut alive and comfortable during a spacewalk. It has been over thirty years since a new life support system has been developed and many new technologies have evolved during this period. Thus, a project was initiated in 2005 to develop the next generation Advanced PLSS using new technologies. NASA engineers are developing a series of prototypes so they can evaluate component and system performance as well as technology readiness in this complex system-of-systems

Supporting Life In Space At NASA

Wheelchairs work well on flat, level surfaces, but on inclines and soft surfaces they can be impossible or even dangerous. Wheelchair users refer to this problem as being in “flat-jail”. Steve Meginnis of MAGICWheels set out to resolve this limitation.  Steve holds over 20 patents and was the mechanical engineer who developed the 1st Sonicare ® toothbrush.  He considers solving hard mechanical problems a challenge and the development of a wheelchair wheel that could do more than move on a flat, level surface pushed even his capabilities.

Unsticking A Concept At MAGICWheels

Redesigning The Ceiling Fan At The Florida Solar Energy Center

Ceiling fans are an inexpensive way to cool a room making it feel 2-4 degrees cooler just by moving the air.  The earliest electric powered fans appeared in the 1880s and the basic design of an electric motor with a set of tilted, flat blades has remained virtually unchanged until quite recently when Danny Parker set out to create a ceiling fan design to increase air moving efficiency while reducing energy consumption.  This case study follows Danny’s effort to: discover a new idea, develop and test prototypes and refine the prototype to practice.

At breakfast Sally had an idea for a product.  By dinner time she shipped the first Pedal Petal clip-on flower to a customer.   This amazingly short time-to-market has only been possible the last couple of years with the advent of Additive Manufacturing (AM).   Additive manufacturing is changing how products are designed and made.  This case study follows Sally’s one-day design/manufacturing effort.

Idea To Product In One Day
For Pedal Petals

During the 1990s, BikeE was one of the top manufacturers of recumbent bicycles in the world.  In 1995 BikeE introduced the AT model with an active rear suspension. Later that year the AT was named one of Bicycling Magazine’s Best New Products of the year.  From 1996 - 2002, BikeE sold over 15,000 ATs.  Many are still on the road today.  This case study, taken from examples in the 3rd edition of the book, follows the evolution of the BikeE AT.

A Soft Ride At BikeE