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  • Lexi Quayle

The Importance of Engineering Design Standards in Product Development

Engineering design standards are an essential part of the engineering profession, with their roots stretching back to the earliest days of the field. They ensure that when used minimum standards of technical excellence are maintained.


Early engineering standards developed in the 19th century focused on the safe construction of bridges and buildings. During the 20th century, standards became more refined and more numerous, with a greater emphasis on the quality of the design process.


Today, engineering design standards are widely used in a variety of industries, providing guidelines for design considerations, materials selection, and the overall safety of the engineering process.


These standards are continuously evolving in response to changing technologies and new demands, ensuring that engineers are always aware of the most up-to-date regulations and have the tools to apply them.


In this article, we will provide an overview of some of engineering design standards, its types and some key elements.


What is an Engineering Design Standard?

An engineering design standard is a document that provides guidance on how to design, produce, and test engineering products and systems.


Engineering design standards can be developed by private organizations, government agencies, or professional societies. They typically cover topics such as materials, dimensions, tolerances, manufacturing processes, testing methods, and safety.


Standards can be voluntary or mandatory. In many cases, adherence to a voluntary standard is seen as best practice, and failure to comply with a mandatory standard can result in legal penalties.



Key Elements of Engineering Design Standards

There are four key elements of engineering design standards, these are;

Quality and Safety, Code of Practice, Methods of Testing and Symbols and Terminology


  1. Quality and Safety

Engineering design standards provide the foundation for the development of quality, safe and reliable products.


They provide rules and recommendations for performance, construction, structure, equipment, and durability.


These standards are critical to ensure the safety, reliability and quality of products, as well as to ensure that products meet the desired specifications and requirements.



Codes of practice

Engineering design standards are established to ensure a code of practice and provide guidance for the safe, reliable, and efficient operation of engineering systems.


Adherence to these standards is essential for ensuring the safety of personnel, equipment, and processes, as well as for providing a uniform approach to the design and development of engineering systems.


Methods of Testing

Engineering design standards are important for ensuring a consistent and reliable testing process.


This involves methods for testing, analyzing, appraising, verifying, and measuring the safety conditions of production, as well as manufacturing, designing, drawing, and operating.

These standards also help to ensure that the testing is conducted in a safe and ethical manner.


Symbols and Terminology

Most engineering disciplines have established design standards that include specifying the use of particular symbols and terminology.


It provides a framework for the consistent use of symbols, terminology, abbreviations, marks, preferred numbers, or units.


In many cases, these standards are developed and maintained by professional societies or governmental bodies.

How To Get Access to Engineering Standards

There are a variety of ways to get access to engineering design standards.


One option is to purchase them from the organization that developed the standard. Standards can also be found in libraries or through online search engines.


Libraries often carry a wide range of engineering resources, including standards and regulations.


Online search engines such as Google and Bing can be used to locate engineering design standards and other related resources.


Many standards are available in downloadable formats, allowing engineers to access the standards directly from their own devices


When using an engineering design standard, it is important to ensure that you are using the latest version of the document. Standards are often updated as new technologies and approaches become available.


Types of Engineering Design Standards


Industry Standards

Industry standards are a type of engineering design standard that are created by an industry body or association.


These standards are designed to provide guidance and specifications for products or services in a particular industry. Industry standards can be voluntary or mandatory, and they may be enforceable by law.


Voluntary industry standards are usually developed by trade associations or other groups of companies that operate in a specific industry.


These standards are not required by law, but they may be adopted by companies as a way to improve quality or competition within the industry.


Mandatory industry standards are enacted by government agencies and are enforced by law. These standards are typically created to protect public safety, health, or the environment.


Industry standards can have a significant impact on businesses, consumers, and the environment. They can promote competition and innovation, improve quality and safety, and protect public health and the environment. However, they can also raise costs and create barriers to entry for small businesses.


International Standards

There are numerous engineering design standards that exist globally, created by various standards organizations. Depending on the specific industry or application, different standards may be more relevant.


Generally speaking, there are three main types of international engineering design standards:


1) Industry-specific standards: These are usually created by trade associations or professional societies, and they cover specific aspects of design and manufacturing within a particular industry.


Examples include the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) standards for mechanical and electrical engineering, the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) standards for automotive engineering and the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) standards for many different industries.


2) Functional specification standards: These set forth requirements that a product or system must meet in order to be considered fit for its intended purpose.


They often address safety, performance, and other safety-critical aspects of design. Examples include the European Union's Machinery Directive and the international IEC 61508 functional safety standard.


3) Product/materials standards: These establish criteria that a product or material must meet in order to be used in a particular application. For example, the ISO 9000 family of quality management standards covers manufacturing and design processes, while the ASTM International standards cover materials and products used in construction, among other things.


European Standards

European Standards (ENs) are voluntary agreements between manufacturers and customers that standardize the characteristics and quality of products and services.


ENs are developed by European Standardization Organizations (ESOs), which are either public or private, and represent the interests of all stakeholders, including consumers, businesses, academia, and government.


There are over 30,000 ENs that cover a wide range of products and services, from food safety to construction. ENs are used throughout the European Union (EU) and European Free Trade Association (EFTA) countries.


There are four types of European Standards:


1. Basic standards: Provide general requirements that apply to all products or services in a particular sector.


2. Product standards: Specify requirements for specific products or product groups.


3. Service standards: regulate the provision of services in a particular sector.


4. System standards: Address the interoperability of products and services from different suppliers.


Why Inventors Should Comply With Engineering Standards

When an inventor creates a new product, they must decide whether or not to comply with existing engineering standards.


There are many reasons why it is important to comply with these standards, even if the product is not intended for mass production.


One reason to comply with engineering standards is that it makes it easier to sell the product.


If potential buyers know that the product meets all the necessary safety and quality standards, they are more likely to be interested in purchasing it.


Also, if the product is already compliant with standards, the buyer will not have to incur the cost of making modifications to meet their own standards.


Another reason to comply with engineering standards is that it can help protect the inventor's intellectual property rights. If an inventor creates a new product that is not compliant with existing standards, they may find it difficult to enforce their patent rights against infringers.


This is because courts may find that the infringer did not copy the product, but simply created a similar product that happens to meet the relevant standards.


In some cases, an inventor may be required to comply with engineering standards in order to obtain certain licenses or permits. For example, many jurisdictions require that products meeting certain safety standards must be certified by an accredited third-party organization before they can be sold.


Ultimately, whether or not to comply with engineering standards is a decision that must be made on a case-by-case basis. In many cases, it is in the best interests of the inventor to do so.


FAQs on Engineering Design Standards

What are engineering design standards?


Engineering design standards are documents that provide guidance on how to design, build and operate systems and products. They can be developed by companies, governments or industry associations.


Why are engineering design standards important?


Standards provide a common language that helps engineers communicate and collaborate more effectively. They can also help to improve the safety, quality and efficiency of products and systems.


What types of engineering design standards are there?


There are many different types of engineering design standards, covering everything from aircraft design to electrical wiring. Some of the most commonly used standards include:


- American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) Standards

- American National Standards Institute (ANSI) Standards

- International Organization for Standardization (ISO) Standards

- Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Standards

- Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) Standards


How can I find out more about engineering design standards?


If you want to find out more about engineering design standards, the best place to start is with the standards organizations that develop and publish them. Many of these organizations have websites where you can access information about their standards, as well as purchase copies of the documents.


In conclusion, engineering design standards are key elements in the design and development of products, inventions and systems.


They help to ensure quality and safety and provide guidance on how to test and measure the performance of products and systems. There are different types of engineering design standards, including industry, international and European standards. Inventors should comply with engineering standards to ensure their products are fit for purpose and meet the requirements of their intended market.


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