What is Structural Design in Mechanical Engineering?

What is Structural Design in Mechanical Engineering?

Structural design is a very important area of mechanical engineering where designers and engineers are obtaining both safely and cost-competitive designs. Also, in most engineering systems, designers and engineers are applying the structural design philosophy. But it is not an as easy task as it seems. They need to consider the different kinds of aspects. Furthermore, you can find this information about structural design engineering here; 

  • How do obtain a good design at the engineering level? 
  • Which tools do you use? 
  • What computer software do you use in structural design? 
  • What are the general engineering topics and disciplines? 
  • Importance of economics and cost-competitiveness. 
  • Importance of manufacturing costs.
  • FAQs about structural design.

What Makes a Structural Design Professional? What are the Steps of It?

Firstly, there is a belief that structural design is the activation where you draw structural systems in a computer. But it is not like this. It should include an engineering approach. At the engineering level of structural design studies, there are different kinds of engineering approaches and steps such as; 

  • Definition of the problem, 
  • Possible solution suggestions for that problem, 
  • Definition of the boundary limits of the problem and solution, 
  • Engineering calculations of the solution to obtain theoric solution, 
  • Illustration of the solution with different computational tools or engineering drawings, 
  • CAE and FEA applications and modelings of the obtained structural design solution to see how will be the solution in the real world, 
  • Calculations of costs and cost-competitiveness in the market. 
  • Manufacturing costs and the manufacturability,
  • Prototype manufacturing. 

So, these are the general steps that you need to follow. To obtain a professional structural design at the engineering level, you need to follow these steps. 

Structural Design Tools

Truss structures in structural design
The design of trusses is a very important subject in engineering structural design(Image Source: Pxhere.).

In the structural design studies, people ar using different tools and computational software. 

Engineering design starts with the use of engineering theories and designing the theoric engineering system with the engineering theories. Furthermore, the use of engineering theories is very important to obtain successful engineering design. 

Computational resources and computational tools are also other important aspects. Thus, in the different steps of design studies, ypu must use computers. So, in the CAD visualization step, computational modeling steps, and the computational calculation steps, you need to use computer resources, and computer software.

Engineering tools to calculate the costs are also a very important tool. Because costs are one of the most important things in structural design studies. Both the manufacturing and market costs are very important in the total cost. 

Computer Softwares in Structural Design

Above all, the use of computer software in structural engineering design is indispensable stuff. Designers use lots of software packages.

CAE Software

Engine block FEA simulation in an engineering design.
A CAE study of a design of a cylinder block in a structural engineering design study.

In the engineering analysis of the obtained theoric engineering design, CAE software is very important. And also, CAE software includes different kinds of tools to make the engineering calculations and optimizations much easier compared with the hand calculations. 

For example, Matlab is one of the most used CAE software. Matlab contains different mathematical tools and codes to calculate vert complex things in one-row code. For example, the calculations of differential equations by hand are very hard and tough and also open to calculation faults. But with the codes of Matlab, you can calculate the differential equations in a very basic way to take the direct solutions. 

There are lots of kinds of topics like the calculations of differential equations in engineering which will be very easy in the CAE software. 

CAD Software

As we stated above, visualization of the obtained design is very important. You can show all the required details of the obtained engineering design in CAD softwares, and you can use the CAD softwares to obtain technical drawings of engineering designs. Technical drawings are very important to show how the different parts are produced in the manufacturing line and assembly drawings are important to show how the parts will be assembled to obtain the designed system. 

You can generate these technical drawings and engineering drawings in CAD software. 

For example, Solidworks provides very useful tools to obtain 3D models of the designed parts and assembly tools to assemble these 3D parts to see the complete engineering design. Also, the technical drawing capabilities of Solidworks are very developed and you can create all types of technical drawings without a problem. 

There are also additional tools of Solidworks such as sheet metal design, mold design, etc. 

Also, you can use the AutoCAD 2D tools to obtain technical drawings of the engineering design. AutoCAD 2D provides various tools to create professional engineering drawings of the designed 3D parts and assemblies. 

FEA Software

In engineering design studies, you can use FEA software extensively. FEA means Finite Element Analysis which is a specific numerical engineering method to see the behaviors of structures under different boundary conditions and limitations. With FEA tools, you can perform different kinds of structural analyses such as static structural analyses, thermal analyses, and fluid mechanics analyses which are also called CFD, Computational Fluid Dynamics. Dynamical and vibrational structural analyses you can also perform with FEA tools.

Use of FEA softwares in structural design.
FEA Software in a structural design(Image Source: Wikimedia.).

FEA software is the computational interface of this FEA tool that you can easily create the required mesh structures and define the required boundary conditions without dealing with the hand calculations of finite element analysis. 

You can use FEA software extensively mechanical engineering to model the 3D structures and assemblies to see their behaviors of them by the external conditions such as calculated loads, external temperatures or pressures, etc. 

The most used FEA software is ANSYS which provides various kinds of tools to use in FEA analyses. You can use the static structural, transient structural, modal analysis, and other FEA tools that you used in structural analyses. 

General Topics and Disciplines in Structural Design

Engineering topics are very important to implement in structural design and engineering design studies. There are different topics and disciplines of engineering exist in the design phase. These topics and disciplines are as below;

  • Statics and Mechanics: Statics and mechanics are the general engineering disciplines that engineers are using in structural engineering design. In the safe design, there are lots of assumptions and engineering approaches in statics. You need to also use machine elements in the design phase of structural design. Designers use standard machine elements in the general machinery and structures that you need to calculate for the safe design. For example in gear systems design, you need to use the general engineering design workflow indicated in the link which depends on the machine elements fundamentals.
  • Heat Transfer: Heat transfer is a very important engineering discipline that an engineer or structural designer should use in the design of structures including heat transfer. So, you need to calculate the total heat transfer and heat situation of your structural engineering design.
  • Fluid Mechanics: There are two branches of fluid mechanics. The first one is the fluid dynamics where you make the general calculations of flowing fluids. And then, the second branch is the fluid statics you calculate the fluids at rest. Also, designers need to calculate these different engineering branches. In the structural design, you may need to use one of these two branches and theories of fluid mechanics.
  • Thermodynamics: Designers should calculate the total efficiency of a structural design. Efficiency depends on different parameters that you calculate by using thermodynamics fundamentals. Thermodynamics deals with the total energy consumption and production of structural designs.

Other Important Disciplines

  • Machine Elements: Structures and machines include standard mechanical elements such as gears, screws, keys, shafts, etc. Thus, you need to make a safety calculation of these mechanical elements in terms of the machine elements. Machine elements are the most common subject that designers use in structural engineering design.
  • Materials Science: A designer must have a very good level of know-how in materials science. The selection of proper materials and calculations of these materials requires great knowledge and mastery of materials. In general, engineers and designers are using manufacturing materials in structural design. Because they can apply the parts that are made from manufacturing materials into production easily.
  • Manufacturing Techniques: There are different kinds of manufacturing techniques in design engineering. Also, available manufacturing techniques are very important. Designers need to be aware of the available manufacturing techniques for the structural design they are carrying out. And which kinds and shapes of products a design company can produce is also a very important factor in the structural design procedures.

These are the general engineering topics and engineering theories that designers are using in the engineering level structural design.

Importance of Cost-Competitiveness in Structural Design

Probably, the products or parts that engineers or designers are designing have very important competitors on the market. So with the long-term research and development studies, they can attain a very good price/performance products that you need to compete in the market. Engineers and designers must consider the cost-competitiveness of the parts and products that they design.

The total cost of the product is very important. In the structural engineering design phase, it is very important to consider total material costs and manufacturing costs to obtain a serial production product. Here, engineering economics emerges as a very important topic to consider. Designers and engineers are using engineering economics to optimize and calculate the long-term cost calculations of the structural engineering design products that they designed.

During the theoric engineering design, engineers make safety calculations to obtain safe products for users. Also, states and governments publish lots of standards and regulations for the minimum design requirements for engineering designs. Engineers are responsible to obtain the best design that provides this safety and the cost-competitiveness. This optimization requires a professional approach to the engineering design phase.

Manufacturing Costs for Structural Designs

As we stated above, the average manufacturing costs of the products are very important in the total prices in the market. Engineers and designers need to obtain optimum manufacturing costs for the serial production of the products that are structurally designed.

Designers are making all the improvements that will decrease the total manufacturing costs of the products and parts. So, it is very important to know the generally available manufacturing processes that the company has and need to know all the workforce parameters of these manufacturing processes. In this case, engineers and designers can attain manufacturing-oriented design which has the most optimum cost of the products.

Conclusion

In this article, we tried to give all the important aspects of design at the engineering level. We mention the different tools that people are using in design studies. Also, engineering approaches and engineering theories are very important to obtaining useful designs. We try to give a viewpoint of the cost of the engineering design phase of products by considering the costs.

These are the general aspects of structural engineering design.

Do not forget to leave your comments and questions below about the design at the engineering level.

Your precious feedbacks are very important to us.

FAQs About Structural Design

What are the basics of structural design? 

The most important thing in structural engineering design is the engineering approach and use of engineering disciplines and principles. A good design must include very good consideration of engineering and cost-competitiveness.

Why structural design is important?

It is very important because the designed systems must be cost-competitive and safe. The structural engineering design approach makes the systems cost-competitive, high performance, and safe as nature allows.

Which tools are for structural design?

There are different tools engineers and designers are using in design. Computational solutions and tools such as CAE, FEA, CAD software, engineering theories, and engineering cost analysis are among the most important tools.

Are there any companies giving structural design services?

There are lots of remote engineering companies that are giving design services in different countries. According to the design topic at hand, customers contact the related engineering companies to give their design tasks.

Who makes structural design? 

In general, structural engineering design engineers and mechanical engineers are dealing with design projects. For big projects, companies can build design teams that include engineers and technicians to overcome the design project at hand.

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