Skip to Main Content
Skip Nav Destination

The Elements of Mechanical Design

James G. Skakoon
James G. Skakoon
Search for other works by this author on:
No. of Pages:
ASME Press
Publication date:

You have heard this often, usually as “keep it simple!” But for good designers, just keeping it simple is not enough. If you only just keep things simple, you will still have complicated designs. You must simplify, simplify, simplify!

So what makes a design simple? Can your intuition alone judge simplicity? Will you know it when you see it?

The less thought and the less knowledge a device requires, the simpler it is. This applies equally to its production, testing, and use. Use these criteria—how much thought, how much knowledge—to judge your designs. Judge best by comparing one solution to another. Of course, it may take lots of thought and knowledge to get to a design requiring little of either; that is design.

1. Create designs that are explicitly simple—keep complexity intrinsic
2. Keep the functions of a design independent from one another
3. Use exact constraint when designing structures and mechanisms—never overconstrain a design
3.1 Exact constraint: a description
3.2 Basic theory of exact constraint
3.3 Exact constraint in two dimensions
3.4 Nesting forces
3.5 Constraint theory in practice
3.5.1. Curvature and surface matching
3.5.2. Elastic constraint design
4. Plan the load path in parts, structures, and assemblies
5. Triangulate parts and structures to make them stiffer
6. Avoid bending stresses. Prefer tension and compression
7. Improve designs with self-help
7.1 Self-help that creates forces
7.2 Self-help that redirects forces
7.3 Self-help that balances forces
7.4 Self-help that distributes loads
8. Manage friction in mechanisms
8.1 Avoid sliding friction
8.2 Maximize the length of linearly-guided components
8.3 Select rotary motion over linear motion
8.4 Use rolling element bearings whenever possible
8.5 Use flexures to eliminate friction
This content is only available via PDF.
You do not currently have access to this chapter.
Close Modal

or Create an Account

Close Modal
Close Modal