If you have a creative, analytical, and inquisitive mind, a passion for problem-solving, and a love for design, then you may have considered a career as a mechanical designer or mechanical engineer.
Join us as we take a look into these two professions and scrutinize the skills, career opportunities, and tools involved in those carreers.
Both mechanical designers and mechanical engineers play crucial roles in the development of new products and systems. Although there are similarities between them, there are stark differences between the duties of a mechanical engineer and the duties of a mechanical designer.
Mechanical engineers work with other design professionals to take a project from the initial design stages to the final manufacturing or construction stages.
Often referred to as drafters, mechanical designers specialize in using 2D and 3D CAD design software to create highly precise technical designs and digital models.
The illustrations and models that a mechanical designer creates are based on the initial sketches made by the mechanical design engineer. A mechanical designer must follow the specifications and instructions the mechanical engineer provides. The aim of the process is to transform an initial sketch of an object or product into a complex and precise technical design ready for manufacturing.
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Engineering broadly describes the use of science and technology to design, build, and use machines, structures, and engines. Engineering covers a wide array of careers in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) fields, from pharmaceutical development to civil engineering to product development.
A mechanical engineer specializes in designing, building, and repairing complete mechanical systems and machines and their components. These systems and machines are usually intended to fulfill a particular function or purpose, such as a piece of medical equipment, an automotive engine, or an aeronautical component.
A mechanical engineer is involved in every phase of developing a product, component, machine, or structure. This includes material selection and part design, product and part testing, manufacturing, and vendor development.
Mechanical engineers use sophisticated 3D CAD modeling software to create the initial designs. The mechanical engineer then tests the designs using structural and thermal simulations generated by CAD software.
Good mechanical design engineers take a precise and thorough approach to every aspect of the design process. They are equipped with good analytical and technical skills focusing on exceptional knowledge of mechanics, CAD design software, and engineering drawing.
To succeed in their careers, mechanical engineers must have excellent knowledge of mathematics and physics and a high level of computer skills. They should understand every aspect of the machine or system they are creating.
As well as the practical functional aspects of their designs, mechanical engineers must also consider the ease of assembly, the cost of manufacturing, how the object will be disposed of, and other such macro-level factors.
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A mechanical designer’s main role is to use CAD software to develop 2D and 3D models and plans based on the initial sketches provided by a mechanical engineer. The plans and models developed by the mechanical designer can then be changed and manipulated to accommodate any design changes or suggestions from the engineering team.
Mechanical designers are responsible for ensuring that each part of the production process is consistent and that all measurements, calculations, and specifications provided by the mechanical design engineer are correct. They are heavily involved in the design stages, as well as the research and development, construction, and testing phases.
As well as being proficient in the use of CAD design software, a good mechanical designer must be highly creative and have excellent artistic skills. They need to understand the technical aspects of their work, be precise and methodological, and use analytical thinking to arrive at innovative solutions for design problems.
Since they must work as part of a team, mechanical designers must be adept at collaborating and communicating with others. Good diplomatic skills and interpersonal skills are required as mechanical designers must often work closely with other colleagues to develop improvements on initial designs.
A mechanical engineer is responsible for the initial design sketches of a machine, component, or product and supervisors the entire construction and manufacturing process. A mechanical designer creates detailed technical plans based on the specifications provided by the mechanical engineer.
A mechanical design engineer will usually be required to hold a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering or another related field. Mechanical designers often are required to hold an associate degree in drafting.
The average salary for a mechanical engineer is approximately US $85,000 per year. Mechanical designers have an average salary of approximately US $55,000 per year.
While there are crossovers in terms of the skills required to perform both roles, a mechanical design engineer must possess a higher knowledge of mathematics, physics, and machine design. Mechanical designers often have more artistic and creative skills. Many mechanical design engineers work in the mechanical design field as well.
Our way of life is made possible by the hard work of specialists like mechanical engineers and mechanical designers. Every day we come into contact with products, vehicles, and structures that are the result of their creativity.
If you are interested in design and have an analytical bent, you should consider a career as either a mechanical engineer or a mechanical designer. Both of these professions are ideal for people who wish to apply their creative and artistic skills to practical applications.
To succeed as a mechanical engineer or a mechanical designer, a thorough knowledge of CAD mechanical design tools is essential. Students of mechanical design are well advised to become proficient in the use of industry-standard design software such as CATIA.
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CATIA from Dassault Systèmes has been one of the leading CAD design programs for both mechanical design engineers and designers for decades. First developed in the 1970s for the aerospace industry, CATIA is now widely used in manufacturing, consumer product design, architecture and construction, and the automotive industry. Tools such as the CATIA suite of CAD programs are now widely used by both mechanical engineers and mechanical designers in a range of industries.
Mechanical engineering design has to take into account the entire manufacturing and construction process of a machine, product, or component.
Powerful CAD software such as CATIA is needed to produce and analyze complex 2D and 3D design plans and solid models used for mechanical engineering design work.
Common tests include structural analysis using 3D CAD simulations that mimic real-world environments, thermal analysis, stress testing, and Finite Element Analysis (FEA).