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Mechanical Component Design Via The Internet An Update

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2003 Annual Conference


Nashville, Tennessee

Publication Date

June 22, 2003

Start Date

June 22, 2003

End Date

June 25, 2003



Conference Session

Web Education: Delivery and Evaluation

Page Count


Page Numbers

8.843.1 - 8.843.9

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Paper Authors

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Donald Smith

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session 3220

Mechanical Component Design via the Internet – An Update

Donald A. Smith University of Wyoming


This paper reports the current progress to implement a new paradigm for students in a typical Machine Components Design course in Mechanical Engineering curricula. The fundamental concept is to have design algorithms for various mechanical components (springs, gears, power transmission shafts, cams, etc.) available to students as Applets on the Internet. The students can then focus on the constraints and functional requirements associated with a particular design problem and design the specific component using industrial strength design algorithms. The tedium of iterative calculations is placed on the algorithms and the students are able to concentrate on the selection of parameters appropriate to their specific design application. Initially reported was an Applet for the design of extension springs. The library now includes capabilities for the design of compression springs and spur gears. The Applets have demonstrated their ability to enhance the students’ awareness of aspects of the design process while not detracting from their skill level for resolving the detailed calculations typically involved with component design.

I. Introduction

The design of a mechanical component typically involves an iterative approach to determine an appropriate set of parameters that satisfy the requirements and constraints associated with the specific design problem. For example, in the design of an extension or compression spring for a particular application, the engineer must specify the following parameters:

1. Type of spring to be designed 2. The material to be used to fabricate the spring 3. One or more pair of force-displacement requirements 4. Other requirements as determined by the specific design problem

From the set of design requirements, the engineer then attempts to implement the design with appropriate selection of wire size and spring geometry so that operating stresses will result in satisfactory performance. These types of design problems tend to be highly iterative. This makes them prime candidates for computer implementation once appropriate design algorithms have been identified. If the component design capability is augmented by a user-friendly interface, these programs can serve to improve the students' understanding of the design process by allowing them to focus on design constraints and objectives rather than getting bogged down in the details of the iterative calculations. This strategy also permits the students to pursue various "What If ?" investigations of their design without incurring excessive time penalties.

Proceedings of the 2003 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright 2003, American Society for Engineering Education

Smith, D. (2003, June), Mechanical Component Design Via The Internet An Update Paper presented at 2003 Annual Conference, Nashville, Tennessee.

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