Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Legacy Department

Mechanical Engineering

Committee Chair/Advisor

Summers, Dr.Joshua D

Committee Member

Summers , Dr.Joshua D

Committee Member

Biggers , Dr.Sherrill B

Committee Member

Thompson , Dr.Lonny L


This case study investigates the design process followed by a small to medium scale enterprise (SME) that primarily depends on special expertise in the form of a few key individuals. These individuals design products mainly based on past experience, augmented by trial and error. This is an inefficient, time consuming, and expensive way of designing products and evaluating their performance. This study critiques the different steps in the current design process, identifying areas of potential improvement and enhancement through application of formal design methods and innovative design enablers. The 'Design Enablers' are design tools that assist the designer at various phases of the design cycle. The design enabler could be as simple as a requirements checklist or as complex as a customized computer based analysis tool. The findings from the case study led to the development of a specialized design enabler that facilitates computer aided engineering analysis of frames, noticeably absent in the SME's current design process. The tool would empower the frame designer to analyze different frame configurations under various simulated operating conditions. The designer is then able to rank different designs based on the stress, deflection, cost, number of members and joints, and other quantitative and qualitative factors. This tool can be termed as a virtual prototyping tool. The designer is able to determine the merits and demerits of a frame design without actually having to physically build it and subject it to a test. With the aid of the design enabler, the frame designer is able to arrive at a goodness measure for a frame based on engineering analysis rather than basing the design purely on his experience. The goodness measure can be defined as the percent deflection lower than the deflection limit value. The deflection limit value can be determined from an analysis of a frame configuration that is currently being used in the field without failures. The extensive use of the design enabler tool would result in the management making an informed decision on costing, finalizing the frame design and WMP would have greater confidence while testing and designing the frames. Furthermore, the design enabler forms the foundation for extending the scope to include rule-based systems, optimization and case based reasoning that would assist designers in efficient product development.



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