In some instances, we are approached when a concept has already been developed or a prototype tested, and it may not have delivered against expectations.
An example of this was a shutter mechanism, designed for a 1,000,000-cycle life but barely achieving 10; we went back to first principals, carefully defining the required motion without over-constraining, and de-coupling the drive from the constraint structures. At our first attempt, we achieved over a million cycles.
Very occasionally, we are asked to develop a design from scratch – this is particularly relevant where it is imperative that design and design-analysis proceed hand in hand. Our team of engineers and analysts will then develop a process to generate models (using PTC Creo, Autodesk Inventor, CATIA V5 or SolidWorks) and analyses (using ANSYS or Abaqus) at increasing levels of maturity, until a validated and code-accredited design is achieved.
An example of this process would be the development of a handling bogie for a piece of pipeline equipment. While it was an evolution of an existing piece of equipment, the design codes had changed so much that the original design was far from compliant, and without early evaluation, there would have been significant design re-work to achieve a compliant update.
Not all of our design work is structural or mechanical. We also solve thermal and fluid flow design problems, examples being the active cooling of a flat panel LED display, removing a condensation issue from a user interface and providing an iterative design and analysis package for an active thermal management system in a machine that could installed in Alaska or Alabama. ANSYS CFX or Fluent are our chosen computational fluid dynamics packages for these type of analyses, coupled with our high-performance cluster to keep timescales to a sensible duration.
There’s no ‘one size fits all’ approach to Engineering Design, but that’s what keeps it interesting.