Can You Identify the Best Design?

So, which is the best design? The only difference between the three designs are the angled support members at 30°, 45°, and 60° to the vertical uprights.

At first glance, this one may seem like a simple question, but when you dig into it deeper from an engineering and design perspective, the answer is not so obvious. This question is relevant because it’s similar to the one that we as designers and engineers may have to answer on a daily basis.

When evaluating multiple designs to find the optimal or the best design, key decisions can be made based on having a set of evaluation goals, or in other words, design performance criteria. In the frame design challenge, the strength of the frame and the frame vertical displacement due to the bending load can easily be used to pick which design works the best.

Here is the comparison of results between the three designs using plain carbon steel as the material.

The 60°angled frame has the best performance in terms of a safety factor of 2.6 and a vertical deflection of 0.57 mm. Between the good and the best designs, we see a performance improvement of about 40 percent in terms of smaller deflection and about a 13 percent stronger frame!

The good news is that now this best design can be subjected to further iterations to answer the following questions:

  • What if I change the material?
  • Carbon steel, Stainless steel or Aluminum? 
  • What if I want to try a different tube size?
  • 1.5 in X 1.5 in, 1.75 in X 1.75 in, 2.0 in X 2.0 in?
  • What if the wall thickness changes?
  • 0.065 in, 0.12 inch or 0.1875 inch?

How would the above affect the cost, weight and, most importantly, will the performance be the same? Can I add Is it worth testing and making the changes?

Below is a table that summarizes the answers to the above questions. The more data points, the easier it becomes to eliminate the insignificant designs and choose between “Best Value” and “Best Compromise”

In the world of virtual prototyping, there are no limits to testing your designs for product performance evaluation. If a design breaks or does not work as expected in your virtual test environment, there is nothing to lose but everything to gain by getting more information and making better design decisions upfront in the design cycle.

As a SOLIDWORKS user, have you ever wondered if your products would perform as expected in real life? Find out how SOLIDWORKS Simulation can help answer that question!

Originally posted in the SOLIDWORKS Blog.

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