mechanical designer

Anyone ever transition to mechanical designer from ID? I have done simple mechanisms in the past, I know this does not require an M.E. like a design engineer? Probably requires familiarity with structural properties, common threads, bushings, bearings, etc. Any tips, experiences ? - Appreciated -

What’s up?

You want to transition from ID to Architecture, Jewelry design, Interaction Design, Mechanical Design… all while trying to figure out how to charge more than $20/hr and you have 15 years experience?

Something doesn’t make sense…

Maybe you would be better off letting us know your situation and show us some of your work so we could better help.


Thanks for the concern. I am looking at all options. I was just seeing the advertised jobs out there and thinking about which I could transition into by focusing on one of the ID skills, like drafting, or model making, 3d modeling for jewelry, or exhibit or small scale architectural design, etc.

I have experience with fine jewelry and know rhino3D which is used heavily in the industry. I have done a ton of structural packaging and have some graphics experience so I might go packaging designer, Mechanical Design, like drafting is something that IDers do so I was thinking maybe I could segue into it.

I feel my problem is I know the wrong 3D modeling program. I’ve gotten bites, but they want to confirm I know either solidworks or pro-e. There’s a lot of talent out there now that knows these programs in addition to being great at the other skills.

20/hr is the upper limit of a lot of online jobs I feel - people in eastern europe are super talented and will work for 10 - 15hr. I’ve worked for ID consultancies and they want to pay about $30 to 35/hr. THat’s my experience.

I am not a rockstar designer but an in the trenches type who has worked in engineering depts. in medical and design staff in consumer. I’ve always had to design detail and follow all the stuff I’ve done into production, test it and troubleshoot it. More emphasis has been on getting 'er done rather than presentation, so I haven’t the awesome sketches in my portfolio, down and dirty stuff. I’ve also worked in rather litigious industries so I am afraid to show sketches in my portfolio sample sheets I send with the resume. I have some personal projects I send with sketches to try to cover this.

Yes, but every week you ask about transitioning to something else… Maybe put it all in one thread. Or maybe focus more on what you want to do and are good at…

Am I abusing the forum?
Obviously I did not think of all these job options at one once, but as I come across them I’ve been noticing there are more jobs in some of these vocations than strictly in ID in my geo. area.

Don’t mean to be defensive, but all these disciplines I bring up intersect with ID so I thought it related to the group of people on this site, It is not like I am asking how transitioning into becoming a pharmacy tech.

I will structure my comments more neatly in the future. I will figure out how to gang comments in one thread - is this done by how I write the content of my thread or is there some nifty “after posting” way to gang comments.

Sorry for wearing out the system.

No, I don’t think you are abusing the forum. Just that it’s hard to help if we don’t really have much info from you and the questions are so diverse.


I don’t think the questions I ask just benefit me. How many user’s are there of this forum? Someone else out there might be wondering the same or sometime in the future may be wondering the same.

I just saw an ad for an IDer today where they wanted mechanical design skills…>>>>>>Nature of Role: Reporting to the Chief Innovation Officer, this individual will lead design programs; conceptualize and execute design direction in accordance with client and development team goals. Duties include concept generation, mechanical design, creating renderings, control drawings and/or models as necessary.

So you guys need to see who I am and what my work is like to answer these questions. This profession lives and dies by the portfolio huh?

Let me put it this way: Yes, someone else might want to “transition from ID to XXX”… but how or if they do that depends a lot on the person, their skills, experience, etc.

In that way, I think we could help more with more info. From what you’ve posted, it sounds as there may be other issues, more important than learning the right software. Billing at $30/hr to me indicates different problems, and if you are struggling in ID, and that is your first field, addressing those problems is key before just trying to find a different role.

I just suggest you will more out of the collective Core consciousness if you make one post, give us some details on your experience, post a portfolio and highlight what you want to do and why. Many others have done so and I think you’ll find they’ve been better helped. Without all the info, it’s hard to comment. For all we know, maybe you would make a great Pharmacy tech.


Thanks for the honest feedback. I will consider posting my work. Although I can tell you I do get call backs on my submissions, but can’t sell the rhino and my ability to quickly come up to speed on solidworks and pro-e.

I think my problem is that although I’ve worked on a lot of projects making it to mass production in many diff. materials and in a lot of diff. processes, I do not have one project that shows the whole “classic” process - - the research, the ergo studies, the form development in 2d & 3d, the hand made finished model, the control drawings, etc, etc. I have this stuff but it is spread over many projects. My other issue to work on is cultivating fearless self promotion and negotiating skills.

Can I ask 3 last questions before I start shopping for a barber’s kit and bottle of pomade?

  1. If I wanted to apply to a watch designer position and had no watches in my portfolio but had jewelry design products using similar production and materials and finishes, how many watch design projects would I have to put into the portfolio? Would they have to be soup to nuts projects, or just sketches w/3D models/renderings.
  2. What is the minimum number of portfolio sample sheet projects you would show?
  3. What is the min. number of printed portfolio projects you would show in person?

Thanks a bunch.

P.S.: I liked Barber better than Pharmacy Tech - more cutting.

Process is process. if you have valid process across multiple projects, that should be fine to show. Ultimately, your portfolio shows what you are capable of, how you think, not what you’ve done. People aren’t hiring you for what you’ve done in the past, rather how you’ve done those things so you can do new, different things.

  1. If applying for a watch designer probably , you are probably going against people who have experience doing watches. I’d expect at least a page full of nice watch sketches, maybe one design more fleshed out. Really depends on the position level what you should have in your portfolio. If it’s a junior level position, probably as described would do. If it’s a senior level position, they are probably looking for people who have been doing watches or something similar for 5+ years so should have a lot more, more similar type level work.

Ultimately though, as I mentioned in the intro, it’s not what you’ve done but how you do it. You could just as likely apply with no watches but a killer portfolio of chairs, shoes, chainsaws as get the position.

Again, these generalization question are almost impossible to answer. I don’t know you, your work, or the position, so the answer is always “it depends”.

  1. No minimum. 3 pages of awesome work is better than 10 pages of mediocre.

  2. Same. It’s quality, not quantity.


PS. You used “Pharmacy tech” so that’s why it’s in there :wink:

Thanks for your patience in explaining.

Let me know if I’m butting in, but I think maybe setting up a coroflot portfolio and having a link to it here on your signature would be a great way for people to know what you’re about.

I’ve also found that the more I post on c77, the more profile views I get on coroflot. That wasn’t my intention but it just happened. I’ve also got some job offers through the portfolio.

If you don’t have enough work to put in a portfolio, then it’s a motivation to sketch/3d model/ build more.

Alright here a definite butt into something quite focused (kind of on topic with my other thread) - I think I know the answer, but here it goes. Roughly speaking, what do you expect the skills that create a ‘good page full of sketches’ translate into? Its it that they have the communication skills to show people what they’re talking about? Is it proving that they have ideas (so would you ‘accept’ CAD/scale models)?

When does the skill of drawing ‘plateau’? With the rise of rendering software, are photo realistic sketch renders as valuable to you? (especially relative to 5 years ago)

Good sketches are good sketches. Show variety, process of thinking, different approaches in details, etc. I’d not likely want CAD. I’d expect the page of sketches could be something done in an hour or two. I doubt you’d get as much variety and exploration by CAD in that time, and you don’t have any of the looseness and room for interpretation that CAD does.

I don’t think there is a plateau, just the right tool for the job. I don’t see many photo realistic sketch renders, but sketch exploration is (or should) be still prevalent.


I agree here about idea generation. We called it “ideation” at Uni. If you try to come up with ideas in cad, you’ll probably spend more time trying to get the program to do what you want than coming up with actual “ideas”.

The good thing about sketching is you can create hundreds of ideas in a few hours then spend another few hours sifting through it all to find the good ones. Maybe if there was a program where you could add elements like say blocks, gears, buttons etc and build like lego/mechano that might help, but you would still be limited by the program’s restraints. The other benefit sketching has is that you can draw the impossible and try to make it possible, add people for scale, context etc etc.

I think a designer with good sketching skills could segue into set design for events/movies/exhibitions without too much trouble.

Very well said.

So when you say ‘sketches’ in this context, are you looking at the content of the sketches of what ideas they are showing (and to an extent, the skill level of the sketch and the ability to communicate the ideas), or rather the sketching ability (and the content will show willingness to learn once in the industry). I’m assuming you’re looking for all but where’s the focus when employers are looking at sketches? I guess it depends on what position you’re looking for (junior, mid, etc)… but assuming this is entry level, which aspects are you looking for?

I understand that CAD takes more time refine a single idea, however it would also provide a deeper refinement at times, as they would provide an actual form that exists in 3D. With that argument, then you could see a model which ensures that it meets the laws of physics, and a production model = laws of the market, etc etc.

I want it all.



Yeah. You need to be able to walk to learn to run. A good designer should be able to hand draw manufacturable ideas in perspective with cut away sections and detail views, then create hand drawn 1:1 engineering drawings before hitting cad in my opinion.

Sometimes CAD shows you things that you didn’t notice in a sketch, like where a moving part might collide with another part, but it’s a completely different tool to a pen and paper.