Enhancing and Optimising the Use of Engineering Tools within the Design Process

By Sarah Wakes, Mark Fahey and Christopher T. Shaw.

Published by The Design Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

The interface between industrial design and engineering is a rich, interesting and sometimes controversial place. The role of each is different but both are needed for complex products and systems to be brought to market. Suspicion and mistrust on both sides leads to misunderstanding and time delays. There is increasing pressure on manufacturers to create safer, more energy efficient products in a shorter product development time. In order to do this there needs to be a smarter and faster way of evaluating and evolving designs. The design and engineering processes need to be complementary rather than confrontational in order to get the optimum performance. Therefore any insight that can be gained into the workings of complex products such as domestic appliances gains advantages both in the market place but also to allow ongoing new innovations that will build reputation and future products.

Computer Aided Engineering (CAE) is one way in which state-of-the-art tools can be utilised to gain an edge over competitors. These tools are not straightforward, cheap or fast to use, although some are more established than others. Considering these tools as answering the what if questions lends a challenge to the creation of scenarios to progress the design idea. The challenge is the establishment of trust in the tools, their interaction with other processes and the relationship between the design and engineering teams.

This paper explores the use of a complex engineering technique (computational fluid dynamics) to enhance and shorten design outcomes and time within a New Zealand business. In countries such as New Zealand the majority of the economy is generated from small-medium enterprises (SME) that need such an integration of technology and design but lack the infrastructure and resources to follow the large multinational examples. The aerospace and automotive sectors have been doing something similar for a number of years and have developed robust methodologies for bridging such gaps. Therefore it is important to examine ways that technology can be made accessible outside of these sectors and it’s advantages used where best rather than whether it was affordable.

Keywords: Computational Fluid Dynamics, Engineering Tools, Design Process

Design Principles and Practices: An International Journal, Volume 4, Issue 1, pp.23-32. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 643.976KB).

Dr. Sarah Wakes

Head of Department, Design Studies, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand

Sarah Wakes is the Head of the Design Studies Department at the University of Otago. Sarah has a BSc(Joint Honours) in Mathematics and Physics and a PhD in Applied Fluid Dynamics from the University of Nottingham (UK). A post-doctoral post at the University of Hertfordshire (UK) within the Engineering School involved using advanced engineering tools such as Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) within diverse real-life situations such as the offshore industry and helmet design. She now heads a degree program that bridges the interface between industrial design, engineering and commerce. Current research interests are the interface between design and technology and the fluid flow within complex real-life problems. Sarah is on the editorial board for the International Journal for Multiphysics and is on the steering committee for the Otago Institute of Design.

Dr. Mark Fahey

Dunedin, New Zealand

Dr. Christopher T. Shaw

Topajka Shaw Consulting Limited, Te Anau, New Zealand


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