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  • Writer's pictureRyan Pagnacco CD

Napkin-Sketch to Engineering Drawing

Some of the best product ideas we’ve worked on came to us as scribbles on a notepad, consisting of crude diagrams, rough dimensions, and hand-scrawled notes in margins. Usually, the basic ideas are present, but they require explanation, and some interpretation. Though it may seem derisive to label these sketches as crude, rough, or merely scribbles; they are often the indicative of a great idea that has been contemplated deeply from the perspective of the end user.

These napkin-sketches are the engineering equivalent of a “study” in the parlance of the arts. As defined its Wikipedia entry:

"In art, a study is a drawing, sketch or painting done in preparation for a finished piece, or as visual notes. Studies are often used to understand the problems involved in rendering subjects and to plan the elements to be used in finished works, such as light, color, form, perspective and composition."

A napkin-sketch could be defined and employed similarly in an engineering development. They act as a means for our clients to communicate their vision for the products aesthetics, function, and performance to the engineer and/or designer. It is then up to the product development team to transpose this vision into a manufacturable and functional design based on engineering principals, industry standards, and legal requirements.

To achieve this, our engineers and technologists study the sketches, collect information from the client and relevant standards, and produce 3D models. Materials, heat-treating, coating, plating, and off-the-shelf components, such as fasteners, must be carefully selected based on their applications and stress conditions. The surface finishes of components, as well as their dimensions and tolerances, must be defined based on their assembly, function, loading conditions, and potential motion while in use. And all of this information must be effectively communicated to the manufacturers as succinctly as possible.

When complete, the Enable Innovation engineering team will produce what is known as a Technical Data Package (TDP); a file containing all the information required to manufacture the product, including engineering drawings, 3D models in various file-types, material cut-lists, and any other documentation relevant to the production, finishing, assembly, and operation of the design.

But, do all project require a full TDP? No.

Sometimes, all that is required is a set of drawings. Or even a single drawing. Or even just a 3D model and files for production, such as DXF files for laser or water jet cutting, or STL files for 3D printing.

Whether you need a full TDP, drawings and models, or just CAD files; our engineering services are offered as-needed, invoiced based on time and materials used, and your intellectual property remains yours.

When you’re ready to turn your “napkin-sketches” into manufacturable parts, Enable Innovation is here to support your product development.

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