The engineering design process is a series of steps that engineers follow to create processes and products. The process is important to the work conducted by TWI and is something that we can offer assistance with.
While the design process follows a predetermined set of steps, some of these may need to be repeated before moving to the next one. This will vary depending on the project itself, but allows lessons to be learnt from failures and improvements to be made.
The process allows for applied science, mathematics and engineering sciences to be used to achieve a high level of optimisation to meet the requirements of an objective. The steps include problem solving processes such as, for example, determining your objectives and constraints, prototyping, testing and evaluation.
The steps of the engineering process are not always followed in sequence, but it is common for engineers to define the problem and brainstorm ideas before creating a prototype test that is then modified and improved until the solution meets the needs of the engineers project. This is called iteration and is a common method of working.
Engineering Design Process Steps
What is the problem that needs to be solved? Who is the design product for, and why is it important to find a solution? What are the limitations and requirements? Engineers need to ask these types of critical questions regardless of what is being created.
Good designers brainstorm possible solutions before opting to start a design, building a list of as many solutions as possible. It is best to avoid judging the designs and instead just let the ideas flow.
Use the experience of others to explore possibilities. By researching past projects you can avoid the problems faced by others. You should speak to people from various backgrounds, including users or customers. You may find some solutions that you had not considered.
Having listed potential solutions and determined the needs of the project alongside your research, the next step is to establish any factors that may constrain your work. This can be done by revisiting the requirements and bringing together your findings and ideas from previous steps.
You may wish to consider further solutions to compare the potential outcomes and find the best approach. This will involve repeating some of the earlier steps for each viable idea.
Once you have assessed your various options you can determine which approach best meets your requirements. Reject those that don’t meet your requirements.
Having chosen your approach, the next step is to refine and improve the solution to create a design proposal. This stage can be ongoing through the length of your project and even after a product has been delivered to customers.
Use your design proposal to make a prototype that will allow you to test how the final product will perform. Prototypes are often made from different materials than the final version and are generally finished to a lesser standard.
Each prototype will need testing, re-evaluation and improvement. Testing and evaluation allows you to see where any improvements are needed.
Once testing has been completed, the design can be revised and improved. This step can be repeated several times as more prototypes are created and evaluated.
After your refinements have been completed and fully tested, you can decide upon and create your finished solution. This may take the form of a polished prototype to demonstrate to customers.
The final stage is to communicate your results. This can be in the form of a report, presentation, display board, or a combination of methods. Thorough documentation allows your finished product to be manufactured to the required quality standards.
TWI can help you with a range of engineering activities, including product and process development, technology acquisition, manufacturing and production, design, prototyping and other technical support.
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