CAD is Perfect… but it’s not Engineering!

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Have you ever had a mechanical designer say to you “I don’t understand why it doesn’t work… the CAD looks right!?” I have! And it raises an interesting point that is repeatedly ignored. CAD is an amazing tool that can help you predict how a product will turn out… but it doesn’t replace REAL ENGINEERING!

Just to put it into perspective, a coworker of mine came up to me and asked me who ‘The Engineer’ was on a particular project we both were working on… I said, “I am”. Then she said, “No no – The Engineer… The ElectricalEngineer” as if it were a higher calling! Let me think… I designed the hardware, circuit, and wrote the program… but because I’m a ‘mechanical ‘guy’ I wasn’t considered the engineer. Needless to say, that really stuck with me. It brought back all of those late nights of studying and working my way through my degree only to get disregarded by a high school drop out.¬†We design real things… and this has two drawbacks. Continue reading

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Technical Guides

Technical Guide Library

No matter your experience, you cannot know everything. I’ve learned this the hard way despite my best efforts. The truth of it is that a huge volume of information exists and access to that information is faster, cheaper, and easier than ever before. We used to depend on certain people, and pay them a lot of money, because they were the ‘gatekeepers’ of this knowledge. Now, it’s almost come full circle because the knowledge is free and available, but we are now willing to pay for new ‘gatekeepers’ to filter, digest, and condense this knowledge into an accurate, simple to understand package that will get us moving forward quickly. This is becoming more true as the “Lean Start-Up” methodology has picked up momentum. With this thought in mind, take a careful look at the technical guide library I’ve built and continue to develop. This doesn’t have all your answers, but it can give you just enough information to start asking the right questions.

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Projects: Overview

CrankCharge1

There’s been a lot in the news about green energy. Many companies have even cropped up around this premise. The truth of it is that we are sooo wasteful, that ‘harvesting energy’ is not as difficult as it sounds. You just need to look at things a little more creatively.

For example, recently I was asked to cool down a product that our customers handle a lot. It really is too hot to be handling all of the time. So, I tried the typical approaches first.

  1. Redesigned heat sink with optimum fin spacing to allow more airflow
  2. Increased surface area within reason for manufacturability.
  3. Added heat spreading material

But none of them seemed to do the trick when I prototyped them. Continue reading

Auto-Clutch Concept 1-1

This clutch is designed to engage and disengage a motor from a shaft (not shown). The triangular lobes are attached to the outer ring through a living hinge. As the outer ring is driven by a belt, the lobes flex toward and lock onto the shaft. The idea behind it works, but unfortunately it doesn’t for my application. The shaft also translates and this clutch requires ‘grounding’. I use the term grounding to refer to the physical attachment of the inner ring, not an electrical characteristic.

Thanks You for the Responses!

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We had a great response for the survey! A surprising result was that most people don’t take baths. That may knock out the tub fill feature for now, but I know that my wife (Lizzie) will make sure that it gets in there at some point. After all, that’s really the only feature she wanted. At any rate… Thanks again and we’ll keep you up to date as we progress.