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Designing physical mechanical parts for China production - Part 7

by Renaud Anjoran 

When it comes to developing hard goods, there are often mechanical parts. They need to be designed before prototypes start to be made.

Pysical parts design

Mechanical parts can refer to internal mechanisms to drive trains and cases, and everything in between. In other words, all the components of a product that have a physical presence and are not part of the electronics design.

Design is generally carried out using computer aided design (CAD) software that allows individual physical components to be designed and developed in a three-dimensional space. As individual components are developed, they can be built into an assembly using the same 3D CAD software.

Some of the advantages of using 3D CAD software to design and develop products are:

  • Short product design time
  • More effective communication with suppliers — factories in China are used to 3D designs
  • Visualization of parts and assemblies
  • Change from solid to transparent to wire frame, for review and analysis purposes
  • Quick and easy to change the design
  • Automatic Bill of Materials generation
  • Part parameters can be added to calculate weight and part costs
  • Part error detection and assembly clash analysis
  • Standard part library for ease of adding screws, nuts, bearings and other standard hardware
  • 3D data files can be used directly to make products, both prototypes and production
  • Data can be emailed to suppliers and customers with ease
  • Implementation of data management process


The image above is a screen shot of a product designed using 3D CAD software. In this view you can see the green top section has been made transparent thus allowing the viewer to see inside the design. The red sections indicate problems from a clash point of view within the assembly itself.

These issues can be fixed before data is released to a supplier who would produce prototype parts. Without the 3D CAD, drawings may have been sent to the supplier, prototype parts made and only when the assembly was put together the clash issues would have been found. This would result in rework and additional parts being made for checking again.

Renaud Anjoran has been managing his quality assurance agency (Sofeast Ltd) since 2006. In addition, a passion for improving the way people work has pushed him to launch a consultancy to improve factories and a web application to manage the purchasing process. He writes advice for importers on

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