This article discusses the significance of human touch in mechanical design. Designers need to be familiar with basic ergonomic standards and guidelines for their industries. In the mechanical area, these include anthropometric data describing the range of human size, shape, strength, and reach. Understanding and explicitly managing user-applied forces, reaction forces, and the resulting motion constitute a large part of human factors engineering (HFE) in mechanical design. An important early step in mechanical HFE is to select the preferred grip or grips. Making invalid assumptions about how users will grip a product is a common error among designers. Human factors engineering may not yield a perfect solution, but by understanding and applying basic principles of human factors engineering throughout a project, designers can spare design iterations and establish a firm human factors foundation for their products.
The Human Touch
James G. Skakoon, a frequent contributor to Mechanical Engineering, operates Vertex Technology LLC, an engineering design firm in St. Paul, Minn. He has written several books, most recently The Elements of Mechanical Design, published by ASME Press.
Michael Wiklund is president of Wiklund Research & Design, a product development consulting firm in Concord, Mass.
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Skakoon, J. G., and Wiklund, M. (September 1, 2011). "The Human Touch." ASME. Mechanical Engineering. September 2011; 133(09): 38–43. https://doi.org/10.1115/1.2011-SEP-2
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