Research Papers

A Backwards Design Method for Mechanical Conceptual Design

[+] Author and Article Information
Stuart C. Burgess

Faculty of Engineering,  Bristol University,  University Walk, Bristol BS8 1TR, United Kingdoms.c.burgess@bris.ac.uk

J. Mech. Des 134(3), 031002 (Feb 18, 2012) (10 pages) doi:10.1115/1.4005620 History: Received March 31, 2011; Revised December 09, 2011; Published February 17, 2012; Online February 18, 2012

This paper presents a backwards design method for mechanical conceptual design. The method involves starting with a very idealistic semiworking solution and then systematically solving the unworkable parts of the solution until a complete solution is found. The method can work in conjunction with other methods such as Theory of Inventive Problem Solving (TRIZ) or brainstorming. The method tries to exploit the principle that it is easier to critique and modify a design than it is to create a fully working solution in one go. The visual nature of the method means that it is suited to design problems where geometry is important such as mechanism design and machine design. Three case studies of conceptual design are presented. The case studies involve a novel clutch, a novel rotary damping mechanism and a novel worm gearbox. Each of these designs won at least one national design competition in the UK. A simple design experiment has been carried out which indicated that the backwards design method was at least as effective as the morphological chart method for a simple machine design exercise.

Copyright © 2012 by American Society of Mechanical Engineers
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Figure 1

The backwards design method

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Figure 2

Threaded shaft and nut problem

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Figure 3

The expansible band clutch: (a) over-running, (b) beginning of torque take-up, and (c) driving

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Figure 4

The separate parts of the expansible-band clutch

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Figure 5

The novel rotary damper

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Figure 6

The separate parts of the damper

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Figure 7

Double-action worm gearbox in rack and pinion mode

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Figure 8

Double-action worm gearbox in locked position



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