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What Is Mechanical Design?

Mechanical design is the process of converting an initial idea into a detailed product that can be manufactured. It involves analyzing a number of factors, including loading capability, deformation and stability.

Good mechanical designers are detail-oriented. They also have a solid understanding of manufacturing technology and how to incorporate it into their designs.


Mechanical design involves the creation and analysis of mechanical components and systems. It is also concerned with the interaction of mechanical and electrical systems, which can be used to create hybrid automation systems called mechatronics. Mechatronics is a combination of mechanics, electronics and software engineering that uses electric motors and servo-mechanisms to automate machinery.

Functions are the requirements that a product must meet. They are usually described by nonquantitative statements and can include things like charging power, cleaning floors and transporting objects. Specifications turn into design constraints during problem-solving processes.

Evaluation criteria are statements of desirable qualitative characteristics that can be modeled and analyzed to optimize products. These include loading capability, deformation and stability. A shaft, for example, could fracture if the design team underestimated the static and dynamic loads or chose an inadequate material. Potential failure modes should be listed and assigned occurrence ratings.


Mechanical design engineers use CAD programs to create technical illustrations for machine parts. They also work closely with engineers and safety staff to ensure designs are functional, efficient and safe. They should be able to follow engineer instructions and use communication skills to communicate effectively.

A mechanical designer works in a field that is as much art as it is science. This combination of creativity and physical principles results in unique products that improve the world around them. This is a dynamic career that offers the satisfaction of overcoming distinct challenges and witnessing their designs come to life.

Mechanical designers must be familiar with a wide range of materials and manufacturing processes, including metals, plastics, ceramics, glass, rubber, and semiconductors. They must also be able to identify potential problems and find solutions for them. This process allows them to create and test a prototype before it is put into production, saving time and money.

Evaluation criteria

Mechanical design is a process that involves the development of machinery designs, creating prototypes and testing them to ensure they are safe and effective. It also requires understanding how various components operate in different situations and evaluating them against client specifications. The mechanical engineering industry has many opportunities for those interested in pursuing careers in this field.

A crucial step in mechanical design is functional analysis, which is the evaluation of whether a given idea will work as intended. This step is important because it helps engineers figure out whether an idea is worth developing, or if it should be abandoned.

Another key consideration is the environment in which a part or system will be operated, as this can significantly affect its performance. For example, a machine element that works well in cold weather may not perform as well in desert conditions. During the evaluative phase, mechanical engineers use specialized mechanical design CAD software to test prototypes in real-world environments and subject them to various stresses.


The materials used in mechanical design have a significant impact on the performance of machines and products. These materials must be strong enough to withstand stress and vibration. They must also be lightweight to lower the cost of production and reduce environmental impact. Mechanical designers use CAD software and computer-aided engineering (CAE) tools to create models of their designs and test how they will respond to force, temperature, motion, and other environmental conditions.

Engineering materials are a class of manmade substances that are used to construct structures and components. Their primary function is to withstand applied loads without breaking or excessive deflection. Engineering materials are typically made of metals or alloys of metals, polymers, ceramics, and composites.

The material selection process is a key part of the mechanical design process. It consists of four steps: translation, screening, evaluation criteria, and documentation. The first step involves interpreting the design requirements as functions, constraints, and objectives. The second step is to screen out candidates using attribute limits and screening rules. The final step is to evaluate the candidates based on evaluation criteria and document the selected one.


Students use a variety of simple building materials to construct prototypes of their design ideas. The process allows them to test if their design works before investing in materials for a full-scale model. They present their prototypes to others for user testing, and then create iterations based on feedback. This activity is part of a hands-on engineering curriculum that aligns to Next Generation Science Standards.

Novice designers have a range of definitions for the term “prototype.” For some, a prototype is an unfinished version that is a work in progress. For others, a prototype is a physical representation of a final design that demonstrates its core functions.

All of the participants interviewed reported using prototypes throughout their project-based engineering design courses. The most common uses for prototypes were to test and evaluate designs. Two other common uses were to collect user requirements and create engineering specifications.


Mechanical design engineers combine creativity with physical expertise to create innovative products that impact a wide variety of industries. Their work combines the rewards of overcoming distinct challenges with the satisfaction of watching designs come to life and change the world around them.

Using CAD software, mechanical design professionals can produce a detailed, lifelike model of their creation. These computer-generated models can be used with Finite Element Analysis (FEA) programs to assess how the design will react to stress, vibration, heat, motion and other environmental conditions.

CVTC’s Mechanical Design program teaches students to use the latest industry-utilized software. Students will learn how to create fabrication drawings and digital models that meet industry standards like geometric dimensioning and tolerances (GD&T) and solidworks. This will allow them to create mechanical products that are functional, safe, and ready for manufacturing.