What do mechanical engineers do?

What do mechanical engineers do?

It’s a question we get asked from time to time at public gatherings: “So what exactly is it that you do?”

When I say I provide mechanical engineering support to the development of (mostly) electronic products this is usually met with confused looks.

Mechanical engineering is one of the broadest engineering disciplines and (amongst many other things) involves the research, design, development, building, and testing of a vast variety of devices, including tools, engines, and machines.

A quick look at the website for the Institution of Mechanical Engineers hints at the wide variety of disciplines where mechanical engineers have a major role. Sectors such as aerospace, biomedical, automobile, energy and construction, to name just a few, all employ armies of mechanical engineers.

Here at Warley, our background is in the telecoms and datacomms industry where we worked for one of the leading telecoms infrastructure equipment providers. This experience has given us the discipline to constantly produce designs with high levels of reliability and technicality – aspects we apply in appropriate measure to every project we take on for clients across a whole range of sectors.  The “engineering” bit differentiates us from our Industrial Design cousins, who tend to be more focussed on the user attributes such as the form as opposed to the function.

Our specialism within mechanical engineering is product design, which means we support the development of products.  This is in fact not limited to the product itself but involves researching technology, materials, developing processes, tooling, and so on.  The spectrum is very broad indeed – typically we are given a design challenge and our team designs a solution based on a mix of common sense and the fundamental engineering principles we have learnt through formal training followed by years of experience.

Most projects involve the build of a prototype to demonstrate some aspects of functional performance. Critical to the value of the prototype is the understanding of the short-comings of the prototyping methods employed.  By way of example, it might be much easier to produce a heat sink by machining it from solid but that will result in superior performance when compared to production equivalents that are cast.  We therefore have to be very careful when deciding on how we are going to make the prototypes and mindful of the effects that the materials and processes chosen for expediency will have.

In addition, our experience of working in a manufacturing environment means we work to ensure any design is optimised to avoid factors that cost money and time, such as unnecessary parts, operations / process steps, set-up stages or inspections.

Today, most of the design work we do is carried out using advanced computer software, such as CAD (computer-aided design) packages which integrate with CNC (computer numerical control) production machines.

Looking back we are incredibly proud of the work we have carried over the years. This includes designing a multitude of different products from literally from the deepest trenches sub-sea to components for military and commercial aircraft, and many places in-between.

No two days are the same in design engineering where there is always the next challenge to ponder and surmount. It’s a challenging and noble career and one we look forward to continuing for many years to come.


To find out more about our mechanical design & engineering services, call us now on Tel: +44 (0)1277 261066 or email us at info@warleydesign.co.uk


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