Who is a Design Engineer
What is Design?
Mechanical Design or Machine Design is a core branch of Engineering or Engineering Design. To understand what and how exactly machine or mechanical design is let us consider the example of the gearbox of the car. The gearbox, which is responsible for power transmission, transmits the motion and the power of the engine to the wheels of the vehicle. The gearbox groups combination of gears which are subjected to not only motion but also the load of the vehicle. For the gears to run at required speeds and take required loads it is important that they should be engineered & designed. During designing, many calculations are done taking into the account the desired speeds, loads and the gear of the selected material and specific dimensions that take all loads and can be manufactured at the lowest possible cost giving optimum performance is designed. In a similar manner, all the car parts, including engine, have to be designed so that they optimally meet all the operational requirements at the lowest possible cost. This whole process of designing is machine design or mechanical design.
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Machine or Mechanical Design can be elaborated as the resources or energy which is turned into useful mechanical operations, or the mechanisms in order to get useful output from the machines in the desired form as required. Machine design can lead to the formation of the completely new machine or it can lead to up-gradation, improvement or innovation of the existing machine.
Who is a Design Engineer?
A technical person who is mainly involved in any of various engineering domains like civil, mechanical, aerospace, electrical, chemical, manufacturing, textile, and structural/architectural is a Design Engineer. Design engineers tend to exercise on products and systems that include adapting and using complex scientific and mathematical techniques. The emphasis is mainly upon utilizing engineering physics and sciences to explicate solutions for society.
The design engineer usually works with a team of engineers and designers to formulate conceptual and detailed designs that ascertain a product practically functions, performs and is adequate for its purpose. They also work with industry professionals and marketers to bring in the new product concept and specifications to satisfy customer needs and may assist the design effort to run smoothly. For the domains in engineering, a discretization is made for the design engineer and the planning engineer for design; analysis is important for planning engineers while synthesis is more paramount for design engineers.
It’s a common thought that Design Engineering and Industrial Designing are the same, but they are not. Industrial designers are mostly responsible for the aesthetic, conceptual and ergonomic aspects for the design of any product. Whereas the Design Engineer usually works with a team of engineers and designers to generate conceptual and detailed designs.
Design Engineer & Industrial Designer work in coordination to develop the product concept and specifications and might direct the design effort. Design Engineer’s main job responsibility is to analyse the problem and find its most optimum solution. He/she might work in a team along with industrial designers to develop a prototype. However, with the advent of CAD and solid modeling software like CATIA, Creo, NX CAD, SolidWorks, etc. the design engineer might even work independently, saving time & extra manpower. Thus good command over designing software will make you more eligible for a better job profile and better salary.
Design Engineer Tasks
Design engineers work in a team along with other designers and industrial engineers to create the drawings necessary for prototyping and production. However, as the CAD and solid modeling software, has eased the working of design engineers, the drawings and models are created by them or the help of other corporate service providers.
The next responsibility of the designer is prototyping. A prototype model of the desired product is created and reviewed. Prototypes can be functional or non-functional. Functional “alpha” prototypes are modelled to be used for testing purpose; non-functional prototypes are used for checking form and fit, virtual prototyping and hence for any such software solutions may also be used. This is the stage where design flaws are checked and corrected, and tooling, manufacturing fixtures, and packaging are developed.
Once the “alpha” prototype is finalized after various iterations, the next step is the “beta” pre-production prototype. With the coordination of an industrial engineer, quality engineer, and manufacturing engineer, the design engineer reviews and checks an initial working of components and assemblies for design compliance and fabrication/manufacturing processes analysis. This is often found through statistical process control. Variations in the product are correlated to aspects of the process used in the manufacturing of the product and its elimination. The common metric system used is the process capability index Cpk. The baseline acceptance for full production to go-ahead is considered to be a Cpk of 1.0
The design engineer follows the product and makes requested changes and corrections throughout the life cycle of the product. The design engineer has to work closely with the manufacturing engineer and manufacturing department throughout the product life cycle.
The design process is an information-intensive one. The design engineers have been found to spend 56% of their time occupied into various information behaviours, including 14% actively looking for information. Moreover, the design engineers’ core technical competence, there is research which has demonstrated the critical nature of their personal attributes, cognitive abilities, and project management skills to succeed in the given role.
Amongst the other more detailed studies, a recent sampling study discovered that design engineers spend 49.66% in computer/software-based work, 40.37% in social activity, and 62.92% of their time in technical work.
What makes a good design engineer?
As far as skills are concerned, you’ve probably already guessed that you’ll need to have an acute eye-for-detail, as well a lot of patience. New product designs require ample time and you’ll need to be an absolute perfectionist.
That’s for sure that being creative is a bonus, but design engineers would be absolutely nowhere without their in-depth knowledge and expertise of computer-aided design (CAD) software tool. After all, these guys are technically sound, and not fine artists. They need to have a logical brain and an expert knowledge of science, maths and engineering principles.
Definitely, a degree in relevant field, such as mechanical engineering or design engineering, will provide you with all the required skills and knowledge that you’ll need to succeed as a design engineer. You’ll even get the chance to hone your CAD skills to a very high standard. However, a degree is by no means essential. You can certainly choose the appropriate design engineering skills through internships, apprenticeships and vocational qualifications too.
The life of a design engineer…
If one pursues a career as a design engineer, he/she might spend time conducting research and bringing up innovative ideas. However, there will be times when these designs will be left to the research and development departments.
Consequently, the majority of the time is spent on actually designing things based on the client’s requirements. You’ll be converting ideas and hair-brained schemes into detailed, technical designs using CAD or CAE (computer-aided engineering) tools. It’s very rare that you’ll be sketching things using a pencil and a piece of paper. It’s all about using high-tech computer programs these days!
Hopefully, your precisely detailed designs will translate into components and contraptions which function effectively and meet your client’s demands. If not, then it’s back to the drawing board for further corrections and redesigning entire sections until everything has been sufficient, tested, modified and refined.
Designing a new product or redesigning something that already designed doesn’t happen overnight. It involves huge time like hours, weeks and months of adjustments and alterations before it can be used in the big, wide world.
Everything considered this would be a captivating and vastly satisfying career path to travel if you have the essential forefront for technology and engineering, with more than a dash of creativity. If that sums you up, then a career in design engineering may be exactly what you’re looking for.
What is the purpose of learning Machine Design?
Proficiency in Machine Design helps to understand the fundamentals of designing the most used parts, elements, and units of various machines. Smaller to big components of machine on assembling make a big machine, hence the machine as a whole unit, as well as its individual components, have to be designed.
The knowledge of machine design helps the engineers as follows:
- Proper material selection which is cost effective, withstand loads and follow design standards
- Calculation of the dimensions based on the loads on machine and strength of the material
- Best suited shapes according to the analytical data by calculations made
- Specify the manufacturing process for the manufacture of the component or the whole machine
Machine Design is the application of mathematics, kinematics, statics, dynamics, and mechanics of materials, engineering materials, and engineering drawing. It involves knowledge implementation and application of other subjects like thermodynamics, hydraulics, engines, turbines, pumps etc. Machine drawing is an key phase and part of the machine design since all the components or the machines should be drawn to manufacture them as per the specifications. Without machine drawing the subject of the machine design is incomplete.
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