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1. Identify the problem

To begin the design process, it is important to recognize the challenge you are facing and what you want to accomplish with the mechanism you are designing. This process also includes taking note of the resources at hand. After you understand the task and what you want to create, move on to step 2 identifying constraints and limits.

2. Identify constraints

Step 2 involves looking at the constraints you are under. Here you make sure your mechanism is fully legal, according to the rules. You also need to account for issues such as space, time, materials, motors, and anything else the team decides as a whole.

3. Sketch

After completing the first two steps, it is time to put an idea into a sketched out plan. This is where creativity plays a role in problem solving. Draft your idea into a whiteboard or paper sketch, making sure to use scaled proportions to better understand the model in three-dimensional space. Specify measurements, parts, and quantities where applicable.

4. Prototype

After visual conception, it’s time to turn it into a tangible, testable mechanism. If appropriate, start with basic materials such as cardboard to get a physical sense of the model’s shape and space it occupies. Understanding the dimensions of the model is very important, as it must work in tandem with other parts of the robot. Once the model looks good, you can replicate it using wood. By using wood you can test the model thoroughly based on physical constraints and reliability. Continue to make changes until the product works as planned. When you reach this point, build the final mechanism out of metal and the materials that were initially set aside for the project. Continue to tweak and make it better until you have a beautiful mechanism that performs well and can be added to the robot!

By following this design process you will end up with a very efficient and effective mechanism. Well-designed, quality designs help the team create better designs and save time during the designing processes.