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Secrets of Machine Design

Nathan Delson

Learning Machine Design

Looking at existing designs

Take things apart

Applying Engineering Theory

Doing Design Projects
But many courses and texts gloss over
important areas in machine design.

Lecture Topics

Exact Constraint Design

Free Body Diagram Analysis

Power Transmission


What is the primary reason that a structure fails to

meet its performance specification in machine
Is it that the stress exceeds the yield stress?

Secret 1: Structures Often Do Not

Fail Due To Stress > Yield Stress
Before linear analysis calculates yield stress, failures
can be:
Excessive deflection

Angle deflections can be worse than translation if part is

holding a sensor or other critical part

Vibrations. Excitations can include:

RPM of any rotating part, frequency of gear tooth

engagement, control feedback.


Moments and Cantilever Loads

are Often the Culprit
Cantilever deflection
much larger than pure
Angle of cantilever can
have magnifying effect

Structural Solutions
Symmetric support to avoid moments
Long support distance when
moments are necessary
When you want something stationary,
make sure it is not a mechanisms
(triangles instead of rectangles)
Identify what component stretches or
compresses when a load is applied


Often the hardest part of Machine Design

The role of a bearing is to allow motion in
desired DOF while constraining motion in
all other DOF.
Good Bearing Systems have:

Low friction in the direction of motion

Low wobble in constrained DOF.

Constraint Design
Every 6 DOF of an object needs to
be explicitly constrained, if it is
not a motion direction.
Constraining rotation is usually
the hardest and requires 2 contacts
points in the plane of rotation.
The designer should explicitly
choose the contact points, rather
than let the part wobble until it hits

Linear Slide Design

Large distance between bearings is critical!

Design Guides (p 223) use the same fundamentals

Secret 2 - Exact Constraint Design:

Robust Bearings at Low Cost
Use the minimum necessary number of
How many bearings support a shaft?
What is the problem with too many
What is the problem with too few?

Examples of Exact Constraints

Examples of Exact Constraints

Examples of Over Constrained Designs

No clearance hole

Alignment of more
than 2 bearings (if no
flexible coupling is

Bearings Solutions: Rule of

Thumb is Two Bearings Per Shaft

Exceptions to Exact Constraint Design

Pulleys can have one bearing since there is
no moment (think of MAE156A turntable).
High Loads on shafts

Engine crankshafts have multiple bearings which

are precision machined

Parts which can be made easily in high


Ball bearings and shafts

Rolling Element Bearings

How Ball Bearings Are Made

machine rolls the ball between two very heavy hardened steel plates called rill plates
A grade three ball has to be spherical within 3 millionths of an inch and the diameter must be accurate within 30 millionths of an inch. This
means that for a grade three quarter-inch ball, the diameter would have to be between 0.24997 and 0.25003 of an inch and the smallest
diameter measured on the ball has to be within 3 millionths of the largest diameter.

How Precision Shafts Are


Centerless grinding is commonly used to produce ground bar stock and chromed bar
stock. Ball bearings and other spherical products are also finished using centerless
grinding methods.

Exact Constraint Design Also

Applies To Structures

Problem: Due to tolerance build up, Copy Machine Baffle Sides buckle in when assembled

First Solution: Reinforce Sides

Problem: Now baffle buckles

Second Solution: Also

Reinforce Baffle

Problem: Excessive stress => time to call consultant

What Exact Constraint Solution is there?

Free Body Diagrams

What Did
Theoretical Friction Analysis
Teach Us?

Power Transmissions

Power Transmision is Seperate

from a Bearing System

So Many Neat Transmissions:

Each One Has Depth

Check out Harmonic and Cycloidal drives

Timing Belts
Flat Belts
Cable Drives
Friction Drives

Control Considerations
Control Theory is large field

But if you identify the source of the problem, you

are 80% the way to a solution

Mechanical Issues Affecting

Gear Backlash
Back drivable vs non-back drivable motors
Driving large inertias
System stiffness

Good for accomiating misalignments
Maintianing preload
Not all springs look like springs

Belleville washers

Neat Mechanical Components

Harmonic Drive

Minimal backlash and high gear reduction, yet

still backdrivable

Regular Clutch with

Ratchet and Pawl

Roller Clutch

Roller clutch provides instantanous lockup, and low noise