Share your sources: Inspirations for mechanical solutions

Hi there,

In most of my industrial design projects, I’ve gotten to the point where a mechanical issue needed to be solved e.g. an object has to be tightly secured to a flat surface with using as less space as possible etc.

What I’ve done so far was trying to look at already existing products that have embedded a solution to solve a similar issue and simply copy it.(Option no.1)
Another option is trying to find a person that knows all about mechanisms, asking him for his opinion.(Option no.2)

Option no.1 is usually difficult because you need to know an existing product that solves your mechanical issue, which is often not the case. If you do find such a product, google images of these products usually don’t show how a mechanism works.

Option no 2. is simply difficult because people are always busy and I, personally, haven’t found that guy that has a very broad knowledge on mechanical solutions.

So my question to you are:
What do you do in this situation?
Do you have any kind of inspirational source/ homepage for mechanical solutions? The only thing I can think of are these great animations, but they’re not organized:

Perhaps you do know an engineering forum that is frequently visited and where people are helpful and open to such questions?

Best regards,

That’s a great link - thanks for sharing it!

I used to lack a mechanical mindset that would help with ideating functionality. What helped me the most was analyzing complex products like power tools. Knowing how the parts are made (i.e. injection molding, overmolds, bosses), what the internals are, and how everything functions together when you use the product. Most importantly, understanding why the product is the way it is. If you train yourself to recognize these relationships, over time it gets easier to break down an existing mechanism into a logical process that you can use to inspire new ones.

Another thing that helped was creating Solidworks models of consumer electronics. You gotta take them apart and reassemble it. Google images help, but the robust learning comes from doing the hard work.

This probably doesn’t directly answer your “what’s your mech. sources?” question, but some thoughts to consider…

  1. Buy things, take them apart (if you are good, put them back together). Do it for your whole life. I started at 5.
  2. Quarterly factory visits, whether it is a new place or not. Meet people. Ask questions.
  3. Pack Expo. The way they orient parts, fold paper, insert product, etc. will get you 90% therre. The mechanics are so simple, yet effective, genius.

And everything is made from the 6 simple machines - Simple machine - Wikipedia

Thanks a lot lychee and iab!

Looks like the good old fashioned way, teaching myself through trying out, is advised the most by you. So you’re telling me to build up my own knowledge instead of asking others or using possible sources. I agree, as this is the best solution for the long term. However, my question was more aimed at short term solutions - if I’m looking for a mechanism to solve a design problem, I have right now.

2. Quarterly factory visits: I’m still a student so I don’t have access to factories as far as I know. Were you talking about factories that belong to your employer?
3. What do you mean with “Pack Expo”? Abbreviation for “Packaging Exhibition”? Are you advising me to visit such exhibitions to gain inspiration?

Another source that came to my mind are tear-down blogs and videos. If you watch a couple of these and try to understand everything they’re saying, I guess you can learn a lot too.
Sources I know are: (great blog in general)

Perhaps anyone here knows other great sources, regarding my initial question and/or tear downs?

Goldmine! Expandable insert for belling plastic tubes 1 - YouTube

I’m in the option 2 camp. I have a network of Mis I’ve worked with over the years that I’ll bring into a project for a quick consult. Usually I’ll give them the goal “I need to find a way to produce x result” which will give them the freedom to suggest a bunch of things.

Option 1 can be good to show a bunch of roughly analogous proof of concepts in the marketplace.

It really depends on what your client needs are though. Are they asking you to engineer something? Then I’d bring a real ME into the project. Or are they asking you to ideate possible solutions? Then showing multiple options of how it could work (with mechanical design provided by in house or some other resource) can be fine.

I’ve spent countless hours looking for mechanisms, those YouTube videos have been very helpful in the past.
There is no magical source for a specific project. We’re currently working on a medical product that has every form of articulation possible in multiple directions. From ratchets, to spring loaded buttons to worm gears and sliding/locking members.

  1. What I usually do is look for analogous products in different industries (medical, sporting goods, industrial, camera equipment, etc.).
  2. Take a trip to the stores and look at tools, toys, whatever might have a similar function. Do not limit your search to a specific product or size.
  3. Buy similar products (amazon is a great resource).
  4. When searching for images keep your search as generic as possible and try different word combinations. This will yield a wider sample of images.

What exactly are you looking for? What application, material, size, etc. - Lots of exhibits that display working manufacturing machines

No reason why a student can’t call on any manufacturer and ask for a tour.

Thanks everyone. I guess this forum is probably my best source of advice when I need advice on a concrete mechanical issue.