Mechanical designers create designs for machines and mechanical devices. They combine drafting skills with mechanical engineering knowledge to assist product development engineers in the manufacture of new mechanical devices. They are usually involved in all manufacturing phases of a machine or mechanical implement, from the initial sketches of the machine through the testing of the finished product. Products can include anything with working machine parts, from a tool to an aircraft.
A career as a mechanical designer requires an aptitude for drawing and good drafting skills. These skills must be combined with an understanding of mechanical physics and how machines work. Most designers have a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering or a degree in machine technologies from a vocational college. Many also have training in the use of computer aided drafting and design (CADD) software. Machine designers are often referred to as CADD specialists.
The principal role of a mechanical designer is to help carry out a company’s product development needs. The designer essentially creates the blueprints for machines and mechanical products or accessories. He may begin with rough sketches of an idea given to him for a working machine, then moves on to detail sketches. Once all drawings are finalized and approved, the designer drafts a blueprint for a working device.
A blueprint is only the beginning of the design process. The designer also consults with mechanical engineers and senior production engineers, making any recommended changes to the blueprints. There may be successive design changes before actual production begins, and in some cases, a completely new design may be required.
Once the actual production begins, a mechanical designer may need to make changes or adjustments to individual components of the designed project. This can require making changes in the original design to enhance the performance of individual parts within the machine. This often involves the use of CADD software to find ways to improve the product’s performance. The designer is responsible for documenting all the changes made to the machine’s design during its production.
The prototype phase of production involves testing of the finished product. Mechanical designers are involved, along with other engineers, in correcting any defects in the product’s performance. As the product is based on his design, the designer has a continuing role in quality assurance efforts. His job is not finished until the product is ready to be mass produced and shipped or used within the company’s own manufacturing facility.