Engineering Design Process : An Overview

What is Engineering Design Process?

The engineering design process is an iterative method that involves a series of activities to guide engineering teams and solve complex engineering problems.

Engineering design process is used during design and development of new products. It is different from the scientific method that involves making observations by doing experiments.

Steps of Engineering Design Process?

Engineering design process involves various steps from problem definition to test and evaluation of prototypes. Not all engineers or companies follow all of these steps. But the ultimate goal is to solve the problem in an iterative way. Following is the list of various steps followed in the engineering design process.

  • Define the Problem and Identify the constraints
  • Research the Problem
  • Brainstorming, Evaluate and Select a possible Solution
  •  Develop and Prototype the Solution
  • Test and Evaluate the Prototype
  • Redesign : Iterate and Improve the Design according to prototype results
  • Finalize the design Communicate the Results
this image shows various steps used in engineering design process

Lets discuss in detail about engineering design process steps in detail.

1. Define the Problem and Identify Constraints

First step in the engineering design process is to identify and define the problem that you want to solve. When defining a problem you should also consider the constraints (such as knowledge, finance, or resources etc.) to solve the problem.

For example, In these difficult times of covid19. The problem is to save people’s lives from Pandemic. You can solve this problem by making a vaccine, hand sanitizers, masks, PPE Kit, sanitizer dispensing machines, Infrared thermometer, or oximeter etc. 

Being a medical company with expertise in making vaccines, you will solve the problem by making a vaccine. Whereas an engineering company can give their contribution by designing smart devices such as sanitizer dispensing machines, AI based mark detection software or Body temperature sensor.

2. Research the Problem

Research plays a key role in the engineering design process. It involves activities of understanding your customer and existing similar solutions available in the market.

For example, if you decide to build a temperature sensor to measure human body temperature. Firstly you need to find the available technologies that can give you required accuracy and fulfill your customer requirements.

3. Solution : Brainstorm, Evaluate, Test the Best and Alternative Solution

Solution for the identified problem is developed in the following steps:

  1. Finalize Requirements
  2. Brainstorm Idea’s
  3. Select the best Solution

Finalizing solution requirements, sets the scope of the project. This step involves finalizing specifications and features of a product over which engineers work.

There can be a number of solutions to a problem. After requirements are finalized engineers brainstorm on multiple ideas and technologies to solve the problem.

After brainstorming different solutions one or alternative solutions fulfilling product requirements are finalized. Afterwards engineers started working on detailed design of the finalized solution.

For example, for the design of a temperature sensor. Firstly, temperature sensor specifications such as accuracy, size constraints, usability and aesthetics etc. are finalized. Afterwards multiple technologies used to sense the temperature are brainstormed and one or multiple solutions are finalized.

4. Build : Develop and Prototype the Solution

After a solution is finalized teams start working on the detailed design. During this phase each block of the solution is developed and analyzed in detail.

Afterwards prototypes are developed. Prototypes are working models of the solution with limited functionality. Click this link to know rapid prototyping techniques for plastic parts.

5. Test and Evaluate Prototype Solution

After porotypes are ready, they are tested and evaluated as per product specifications and its functional & standard requirements. Testing results are evaluated in detail and decision on any minor or major change in design is taken.

6. Iterate the Solution

In this step the solution is modified according to the feedback from the prototype testing. From here, we go back to the Build: Develop and prototype the solution stage and redesign the solution until it works.

The use of simulation tools brainstorming different ideas effectively can reduce the number of iterations. Our  efforts shall be always to achieve the solution with zero iterations.

7. Finalize Results and Communicate the Solution

Solution meeting our specifications, functional and standard requirements is finalized. Afterwards the final solution is productionized and used to solve real life problems. 

We will keep adding more information on Engineering Design Process available in the market. Please add your suggestions, comments or questions on Engineering Design Process in the comment box.

We suggest you also read this article on various types of machining operations.

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