Saturday, July 10, 2010

Engineering reliance and independance quote

Here's a very intriguing quote by oakshaman in a review on Amazon about a mechanisms book I plan to buy:

"The many crisp line drawings are presented with a minimum of explanation and no dimensioning. You see, it was assumed back in those days that a person with natural mechanical aptitude could look at a diagram, or a machine, and figure it out. Not only that, but it was assumed that once you had the idea, then you could work out all the details for yourself without having to be told everything down to the last screw size. While there is a descriptive paragraph indexed to every drawing, most of the time you don't really need it.

This book comes from an age when engineers and designers had to have the talent and the knowledge to use the mechanical principles of levers, linkages, cams, gears, etc. to produce a given motion- and to link together many such elegant little mechanisms to get a bigger job done- reliably. This isn't done much anymore. Now most machines are huge, cobbled-up, Rube Goldberg devices of pneumatic or hydraulic cylinders, screw actuators, or servo motors- all interconnected by electronic controllers. The whole thing is controlled by software of even more dubious reliability.

Up to the "digital revolution", this book shows how it was always done- it's how I learned it. Of course, once upon a time, a mechanical designer actually had to understand machinery, and the basic principles of physics, and not just how to write code...."
It just about puts a whole new perspective on how you look at things like this. Well said!!

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