A series of 13 case studies support the material in The Mechanical Design Process, 5th edition, McGraw Hill.  Each of these was developed in cooperation with a company to show how they make use of best practices covered in the text. Click on image or title to download the case study.

From Constraints to Components at Marin Bicycles

This case study details the development of the Marin Mount Vision Pro mountain bicycle rear suspension. used a structured method that progressed from Constraints to Configurations to Connections to Components . This methodology helped them ensure that the final configuration met the needs. Each of the four steps is described here. 


Multi-duty PC Boards at Sound Devices

Sound Devices designs and manufactures equipment that records the audio you hear in movies. A unique feature of the 788T High Resolution Digital Audio Recorder is that printed circuit boards (PC boards) not only serve their intended purpose for mounting and connecting electronic components but also the physical mounting and support for the controls. This case study uses Design for Assembly (DFA) methods to evaluate the design of these boards. A template for scoring the DFA quality is used and the method discussed in Section 11.5 in the 4th edition of The Mechanical Design Process.


Spiral Product Development at Syncromatics

The case study detail Syncromatics’ development of their Solar Powered Shelter Signs. These signs are erected to communicate bus arrival times and destinations to riders waiting at a bus stop giving riders clear information about what to expect and when. The design process used for the signs was a mixture of methods where hardware and electric circuitry are fixed early and are robust enough to allow agile development of the software. The processes used and how they were integrated is developed.


Reinventing the See-Saw at BigToys 

This case study focuses on how BigToys used their customers to help them redefine the see-saw. The see-saw or teeter-totter used to be common on most playgrounds, but due to safety issues has all but disappeared. BigToys saw this opportunity and designed a new toy to fill the gap. The case study develops BigToys' participatory design with children, even down to a contest for children to name the product. Emphasized is how BigToys informally used the Quality Function Deployment (QFD) process to design a very innovative product.


Achieving a single truth at Eclipse 

Eclipse, Inc., one of the world’s leading manufacturers of industrial burners used for heat treating, drying, curing, and industrial process heating had a problem. While they had plants on three continents and while their business was strong, they had at least three versions of the truth. If a part was needed for a product, a product that could be manufactured in the U.S., Asia or Europe, there were multiple CAD models for the part. And, not every model in each of the areas accurately reflected the “official” drawing of the part in the system. Even worse, if a change was made to fix a problem or meet a customer’s need, it was unlikely that the change would make it to all the part representations. In 2006, Eclipse launched a project to get this problem under control using a data management system. This process has taken four years and is still a work in progress. This case study explores their journey, the benefits achieved, and evolving world of product data management.


Unsticking a concept at MAGICWheels

Wheelchairs work well on flat, level surfaces, but on inclines and soft surfaces they can be impossible or even dangerous. Wheelchair users refer to this problem as being in “flat-jail”.  In 1996 Steve Meginnis of MAGICWheels set out to resolve this limitation.  Steve already had a background in developing products with nearly 40 years of experience designing and developing medical and aircraft products, He holds over 20 patents and was the mechanical engineer who developed the 1st Sonicare ® toothbrush.  He considers solving hard mechanical problems a challenge and the development of a wheelchair wheel that could do more than move on a flat, level surface pushed even his capabilities.


All Hot And Nowhere To Go at Q-Drive 

Q-Drive develops and manufactures thermo-acoustic cryocoolers, machines that liquefy gases with simple, small-scale machines.  John Corey, Q-Drive’s founder and chief designer had a problem in getting rid of the heat removed from the gas. In early versions of he used a conventional circulating water system.  But this required a water source, tubes, and often pumps, reservoir, and a separate fin-fan “radiator” greatly complicating the elegant and simple system. John developed and patented a very simple fin style heat exchanger made of inter-locking extruded elements.   His design process is explored in this case study.


Designing with Mushrooms at Ecovative  

Ecovative grows their products out of a fully biodegradable material made from agri-waste and mushroom roots.  This Mushroom® Packaging case study is about Ecovative’s entirely new process for growing packaging to meet the needs of Steelcase, a manufacturer of office furniture.  Their use of mycelium, a naturally occurring vegetative part of a fungus, as a manufacturing medium is both novel and potentially industry changing.  This case study focuses on their process and how to measure its sustainability versus the traditional styrene.


Designing a Hybrid Car at BMW

In an effort to reduce CO2 emissions and develop a distinctive electric driving experience, BMW initiated a program to develop a hybrid version of their 5-Series, high end car.   They needed to develop a concept that on the one hand realized the fuel economy potential of hybrid technology, and on the other, offered typical powertrain characteristics and drivability.  Further, they wanted an architecture that would allow them flexibility to evolve more sophisticated systems, scaling from a mild-hybrid to plug-in-hybrid.  The engineers used different types of design matrices to support designing the 5-Series hybrid BMW.


Supporting Life in Space at NASA 

A key need in manned space exploration is a reliable Portable Life Support System (PLSS).  These systems provide all of the functions necessary to keep the astronaut alive and comfortable during a spacewalk. It has been over thirty years since a new life support system has been developed and many new technologies have evolved during this period.  Further, NASA is now planning visits to Mars and asteroids, as well as a return to the moon.  Thus, a project was initiated in 2005 to develop the next generation Advanced PLSS using new technologies. NASA engineers are developing a series of prototypes so they can evaluate component and system performance as well as technology readiness in this complex system-of-systems.


Redesigning the Ceiling Fan at the Florida Solar Energy Center 

Ceiling fans are an inexpensive way to cool a room making it feel 2-4oF cooler just by moving the air.  The earliest electric powered fans appeared in the 1880s and the basic design of an electric motor with a set of tilted, flat blades has remained virtually unchanged until quite recently when Danny Parker set out to create a ceiling fan design to increase air moving efficiency while reducing energy consumption.  This case study follows Danny’s effort to: discover a new idea, refine the idea to practice, develop and test prototypes and refine the prototype to practice.


Idea to Product in One Day for Pedal Petals

At breakfast Sally had an idea for a product.  By dinner time she shipped the first Pedal Petal clip-on flower to a customer.   This amazingly short time-to-market has only been possible the last couple of years with the advent of Additive Manufacturing (AM).   Often called 3D printing and formerly called rapid prototyping, additive manufacturing is changing how products are designed and made.  This case study follows Sally’s one-day design/manufacturing effort.


A Soft Ride at BikeE 

During the 1990s, BikeE was one of the top manufacturers of recumbent bicycles in the world.  In 1995 BikeE introduced the AT model with an active rear suspension. Later that year the AT was named one of Bicycling Magazine’s Best New Products of the year.  From 1996 - 2002, BikeE sold over 15,000 ATs.  Many are still on the road today.  This case study, taken from examples in the book, follows the evolution of the Bike

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