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Help with my first ever design project?

  1. Sep 13, 2014 #1
    I was just assigned a design project to work on and this is my first time doing something like this and I'm not sure what to do!! I would like useful advices from experienced people regarding what type of product should a first-timer like me choose to work with? It's telling me to "design" so I guess I should think about how to improve the product and what I will be applying to it to my follow my condition. This is due by December and even if it's called "design project", the professor said we don't have to actually make on physically.

    Here's the description-----

    You will undertake a detailed engineering design of a specified product. This will include:

    - Analysis of all functional requirement of the product

    - Consideration of various preliminary design options (possible solutions)

    - Detailed analysis of engineering performance (analytical and FEA); e.g. stress, deflection, stability (buckling etc.), fatigue, strength of joints (welds, bolts, screws, rivets, adhesives etc.)

    - Preliminary proposal of manufacturing methods and materials for custom components and overall assembly of the final product

    - Details of off-the-shelf components to be used

    - Cost estimate.

    Thank you guys!!!!!
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 13, 2014 #2


    Staff: Mentor

    Welcome to PF!

    Design a pedal vehicle that looks like gocart.

    How would you design the chassis? What materials would you use? How much would they cost? ...

    You could come with a rough design and then go to Home Depot or Lowes if you're in the US to price the materials you need like wood for the frame or metal pipes or even PVC piping.

    Like building a car for a big kid without a motor...
  4. Sep 13, 2014 #3


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    We don't know what you are studying or what level this is at. Since the purpose of the exercise is to get good marks, not to design something that you are actually going to make and sell at a profit, I think the most important section is probably

    So, choose something that you know how to model and analyze with the software you have available, and within the amount of time you have for the project.
  5. Sep 14, 2014 #4
    I'm studying mechanical engineering, and this project is from the entry course of machine design. Also regarding "choose something that you knwo how to model and analyze", it's just that I've neer done anything like modeling or analyzing specific product so I was hoping if you could recommend anything at my level to start out with. (I guess once I choose to work on something, I'll have to go through massive research online to get all the information..."
  6. Sep 14, 2014 #5
    Thank you very much for the welcome sir!

    Will that be something good enough for my first timer like myself? The professor presented that he wanted me to make it like a professional report so I was wondering if there's any guideline I could follow.
  7. Sep 14, 2014 #6


    Staff: Mentor

    Why don't you ask your professor about it? He's the one who will judge your work.

    Operationally you need to follow these steps:

    1) Think of something to build
    2) Draw a rough sketch of it?
    3) Decide on dimensions.
    4) Build a simple model and evaluate the forces it will encounter like weight of rider, terrain, speed...
    5) Estimate dimensions.
    6) Think of materials to use.
    7) Based on your dimensions estimate the amount of material needed and the cost of the materials
    8) Now you can decide if its worth building or you've over designed it.
    9) Make a technical drawing of it.
    10) Get a more accurate idea of material and cost and evaluate whether it will stand up to the environment.
    11) Review the design and repeat some of the steps above until the design looks right...
    12) Begin building it.

    The clip from the Pentagon Wars while funny briefly shows the steps:

    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 25, 2014
  8. Sep 14, 2014 #7


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    What I meant was to choose something that you can analyze based on the course material you have done so far. It this is a machine design course, you probably about know basic mechanisms like levers, gears, how to find the stress in structures like beams, trusses, etc, different types of joints like bolts, rivet, adhesives, welding or brazing, etc.

    So to pick two random ideas out of the air, if your project was a mechanical can-opener designed to be easy for disabled people to use, you already know enough to design something and analyze it. On the other hand if you decided to design an improved crash helmet for cyclists, what do you know about stress analysis of curved shells with large deflections, high speed dynamic analysis where you need to track the propagation of stress "waves" in the object, energy absorbtion in crushable materials, etc? Probably nothing much, though you might learn about them later on.

    So if those were the only two choices you had for a project, it's a no-brainer which one to go for - the one where you can use what you know already.
  9. Sep 14, 2014 #8


    Staff: Mentor

    Aleph is right design a system related to what you've studied and talk to your prof about it. He could tell you what others have done in the past.
  10. Sep 14, 2014 #9
    Thank you so much guys! I just have more request if you don't mind. The project is due in like 1 and a half month or so. I might have more questions to ask while in the process of making report and I might all of sudden make a reply in this post after not doing so for a week or so. Would you guys be willing to answer my questions even then? (I hope this post will still be alive by then).
  11. Sep 14, 2014 #10


    Staff: Mentor

    The post will still be here and still be open unless it becomes contentious ie an argument and moderator steps in to shut it down. That usually doesn't happen.

    One caveat is that while you may come back and post there's no guarantee that we will respond quickly. We do see it on our list of subscribed posts and will most likely respond just no guarantees.

    My suggestion is to keep the conversation going by giving updates of where you're at in the process so that when you do have a question we'll know where you're at.
  12. Sep 14, 2014 #11
    so like every 2~3 days or so I guess?
  13. Sep 14, 2014 #12


    Staff: Mentor

    Yeah 2 to 3 days works... You'll probably have some questions anyway by then...
  14. Sep 14, 2014 #13
    Make the physical dimensions driven by the design constraints.. For example, the pedal cart dimensions could vary by the weight and height of the user. The sprocket could be variable by desired speed / torque desired by a given rider.
  15. Sep 15, 2014 #14


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  16. Sep 17, 2014 #15
    So yeah decided to work on the power steering system. I'll also get into specification of hydraulic and electric steering system.
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