Integrating Mechanical Testing Into The Design and Development Process 791077

The traditional role of the test lab has been to subject prototype products or components to carefully defined programs and evaluate acceptability from the viewpoint of vibration, stress, durability, life, noise, safety, reliability, performance, etc. If a product or component fails prescribed test criteria, it is sent back for rework by an appropriate designer. The test engineer seldom works with or meets the designer, except when “crisis” type problems are encountered.
Computer Aided Engineering (CAE) already has had a dramatic effect on drafting, design analysis, and testing groups. Mini-computer based testing systems, using modal analysis and animated mode shape test capabilities were introduced into the test lab in the early 1970's. Many new tools and techniques have become available since then. These later tools have a revolutionary impact on mechanical product development and the role of mechanical test engineers in the development process.
The examples sited here are associated with vehicles (1)* and rotating machinery (2), but the same approach has already been applied to other industries such as:
  • Aerospace (3)
  • Earthmoving equipment (4)
  • Agricultural equipment (5)
  • Machine tool (6)
  • Plant equipment (7)
  • Consumer products and other mechanical devices.
This paper addresses technical management, coordination, and application of new test technology within mechanical product development and attempts to answer the following questions:
  • What is the current state-of-the-art approach to design and development of mechanical products?
  • What techniques and tools are available to enable test engineers to contribute optimally to development programs for new mechanical products?
  • What actions should a manager take to implement these new test capabilities into his or her company's mechanical product development process?


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