Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Design Inspiration (Continued)

In a continuation of yesterday's discussion, we had a discussion of just how important it is for all members of the team, engineers and designers alike to make sure that both sides know how the design is progressing in order to avoid the disconnect present in so many auto manufacturing companies as I've discussed in the past. This is especially true since this is the first exercise of its type for LM, and we need to avoid setting a bad precedent for future designs, of which there will be many.

After said discussion, Dan and I were talking about the gravity of melding the design constraints with the engineering constraints to avoid what he called the "Silly Putty Effect". By this what he meant was that if you do not keep the engineering constraints like packaging, proportions for right sized components like the engine, wheels and tires etc., the way in which the content (and the amount of content) you originally planned for may not be reasonable, which stretches the design, making the area that was the central part of the design - the meat of the design if you will - very thin, like when you take a ball of Silly Putty and stretch it. If you aren't careful, and you have to stretch the design too much to meet engineering and production constraints you didn't plan for, your "Silly Putty" will eventually snap.

Courtesy: www.sandia.gov

This is the difference between someone seeing the vehicle design initially and being excited about it enough to purchase one and having their expectations met or exceeded and seeing the car in person for the first time and being displeased with the changes and even worse, when they get in the car, if they have trouble getting in or out let's say (something they will obviously be constantly reminded of) it could totally ruin their experience. That's not what we want. To be successful, we need to deliver BOTH a game changing differentiated design, and a well engineered vehicle.

To meet our goals, it will take many discussions like we had today, which at times will certainly have their difference in opinions, and their growing pains, but as long as we continue to have interdisciplinary discussions on a continual basis, there will be no stretching of the "Silly Putty" when we have the vehicle in front of us at full scale.


Unknown said...

This "putty effect" is what i see too in most of the current designs. The merge of designers and engineers are evident now. Thanks for posting up these great posts on what is going at Local Motors. Keep it up!!

Mike Pisani said...

Thanks Daney, I will do my best to keep everyone informed on the engineering and design revolution here and what's going on around us as well!