Developing Definitions

Adopting generative design is sure to be a growing trend in the near future. This technology has a lot of potential, but here we’re going to discuss one of the big challenges that comes with it.

The problem in adopting generative design is developing functioning definitions for products. If you look at what mechanical engineers are doing today, they typically document requirements very stringently and put them under configuration control, which is good. But when it comes to figuring out the functional definition of the design, it’s usually just in someone’s head. That’s traditionally how the process works. Needless to say, we could probably make some improvements here.

But what manifests from all the different options and things that could be a functional solution is still typically in an engineer’s head. The physical manifestation of that functional design is usually a 3D model based on 2D drawings, so the process as it exists today does not have that formal step.

One Step At A Time

If you look at electrical board design, or even just electrical design, formally defining the functional definition of those types of systems is a formal step. You can look at the schematic and a logic diagram and have aspects of that represented there. The physical manifestation is the board layout, for example.

But there really aren’t equivalent steps in mechanical design today. Is it a big deal to add just this one step? It will take a little bit of extra time, sure. My bigger concern is that it represents a cultural change. Mechanical engineers are going to be asked to do something they have not done before, traditionally. Something they have not had to set aside time for until now.

As we all know, and as we’ve all seen in the past when different engineering organizations have adopted new initiatives, cultural change is usually the biggest obstacle in moving forward. I think this is something that will have to be addressed, and it will be a major challenge.