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Engineering Design Services-Today’s Need

Right from the time the wheel was invented, all the things that man has created has a rationale behind it. Almost all the manmade objects that we see around us have an engineering design component in it. Take the simple example of a spoon. It can come in different sizes and material, but the basic utility remains unchanged. While the aesthetics may differ, there is an engineering design component in a spoon that makes it useful to serve / eat food.

The importance of Engineering Design

While the spoon is a very basic example, the complex artifacts that humans make today invariably involve engineering design. The Worli Sea link in Mumbai, the fastest car in the world, the supersonic jets, smart phones, the Burj Khalifa and the latest innovation in diagnostic medicine – all are examples of engineering design at work.

Engineering design is the use of scientific principles, technical information and imagination in the definition of a mechanical structure, machine or system to perform pre-specified functions with maximum economy and efficiency. The fundamental elements of the design process include the establishment of objectives and criteria, synthesis, analysis, construction, testing and evaluation.

Thus, the prime purpose of engineering design is to apply scientific knowledge to the solution of technical problems. While engineers provide a technical solution, it is very important to understand that engineering design implies a solution that is aesthetic as well. In other words, designers too are involved to ensure that the end product is economical, eco friendly and appeals to users.

Engineering Design Tools

Many tools are available today that helps engineers / designers achieve their objective. Computer Aided Design (CAD) and Computer Aided Engineering (CAE) are software that allows engineers to be creative while satisfying the technical requirements of a product. A few of the popular tools include PTC Windchill, CAE Suite of Solutions from Altair, 3 D printers from Stratasys, MATLAB and SIMULINK from MathWorks .

Introduced in the 1960’s to automate the task of design engineering, these tools have now grown phenomenally in terms of sophistication and functionality offered. Often time, special training is required to use these tools correctly.

Engineering Design Services

Because modern technology is so complex, it is now near about impossible for an individual to handle design and development of a new product single handedly. It takes a team of designers and engineers to successfully manufacture a new product. In order to achieve success, the design process must be planned carefully and executed systematically. Specifically, the engineering design process must integrate the many different aspects of designing in such a way that the whole process becomes logical and comprehensible. In addition, most of the CAD / CAE software available today is complex.  It takes special training to understand and utilize the harness the real power of these applications. Secondly, the cost of acquiring these tools is rather expensive. Many companies that need to develop products therefore outsource their engineering design requirements to agencies that provide such services. There are also times when the company has trained manpower and good CAD / CAE infrastructure, but the people working there are simply overloaded with work. In such cases too, companies avail engineering design services to share their work load when they are hard pressed for time.

A few of the engineering design services include :

  • CAD design services
  • CAE design services
  • FEA services
  • Moldflow Services
  • Thermal Analysis Services 
  • CFD services
  • Structural Analysis Services
  • Noise and Vibration Analysis Services
  • Kinematics and Multibody Dynamics Services

In developing nations (like India), engineering design services are the need of the hour. There are many small and medium scale industries that do not have the necessary infrastructure to thoroughly evaluate their product ideas and reach the manufacturing stage, and reputed design services companies are in good demand to assist them. 

As seen elsewhere, proper design is an engineering activity that:

  • is useful in developing products
  • blends engineering knowledge with creative design
  • requires professionalism 
  • needs special skills and tools

Today, the emphasis is on ‘usability’ coupled with attractive packaging. No longer are people satisfied with a functional product; they also want it to be appealing. As CAD and CAE tools get more complex and more powerful, it takes special expertise to properly use these tools and exploit their potential. This need has resulted in a demand for companies that offer engineering design services

Steps in Engineering Design Services 

Once an entrepreneur / company decides to go ahead with a product / artifact, the next step is to approach a professional engineering design services provider. Since a product designing can have a multitude of answers, there usually is an iteration involved in the design process. The design service company will handle all these cyclic iterations. Here are the basic steps that any engineering design services provider undertakes:

  1. Identifying the design needs

This process usually contains a listing of the product function and the customer requirements and expectations about the product features.

  1. Gather relevant information about the product / artifact

A lot of research goes in this step. It can involve studying the competitors’ products, reading of books / browsing the internet for similar products and talking to potential consumers. This step also involves identifying the loads, boundaries, conditions and forces that will be applied on the product. The product design should be such that it facilitates the smooth functioning of the product’s purpose under the hardest of the conditions. At the same time, the design should be optimized and should be appealing.

  1. Brainstorm about possible solutions

Since design engineering is a mix of science and creativity, there can be more than one solution for a product development. The engineering design services team discusses various options that would result in the best possible artifact. It is also important to ensure that the costs and time of development are kept to the minimum. This necessitates getting the product design right the first time.

Today’s advanced CAD software is intuitive and suggestive. They also contain a standard design/ or parts library which can help designers meet necessary standards and norms of design. CAE software solutions help the engineering design service team virtually analysis and simulate product designs that highlight weak areas in the design which when corrected help companies develop robust product designs.

  1. Zero in on the most feasible solution

After exploring all the “What if” scenarios, the companies can narrow down on the design they wish to go ahead with.This step involves selection of the best possible solution that best meet the requirements of the product / consumer and modelling a prototype using CAD / CAE software

  1. Implement and test the design solution

The advent of 3 D Printers has made prototyping easy. Most companies that provide engineering design services use a 3 D printer to actually create a 3 D object. It is then tested extensively.Creating a physical model helps companies validate the product functioning, fit, form and ergonomics. This further helps enhance product design performance.

The above steps are iterated till a satisfactory engineering and design solution is achieved.

Design engineering is the driving force behind every product created for customers. Companies that specialize in this field offer value-added services that are customized to the customer’s needs.

Since proper design engineering is the foundation of a successful product – be it a household object or a complex architectural marvel, it is important to choose a company that has ‘hands on’ experience in providing these services. 

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