Learn About Machine Design Costs, Engineering Services Rates & Pricing for Companies

machine design studio

This post covers machine design costs, engineering design services rates, and pricing for companies. According to the BLS (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics), mechanical engineers plan and design machines, engines, and equipment. Mechanical engineers also oversee equipment construction, installation, operation, and maintenance. i.e., machine design, turbines, motors, automobiles, and construction machines. 

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Machine design costs, engineering services rates & pricing


Based on BLS data, the average cost to hire a mechanical engineer is around $46 per hour. Depending on experience, the rate ranges from $30 to $65 per hour

Mechanical Engineer pay rate (United States)
Hourly rate$ 29.21$ 36.56$ 45.82$ 57.78$ 65.49
Annual rate$ 60,750$ 76,050$ 95,300$ 120,180$ 136,210

As with any project, the actual cost varies according to the scope of work. For example, an HVAC mechanical engineer charges $40 to $50 per hour and a nuclear engineer charges over $90 per hour

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Types of machine design

The primary concerns for machine design are high power output, energy efficiency, and cost. At its core, machine design can be divided into three primary criteria:

* Adaptive Design 

Adaptive design is modifying an existing machine’s design. Many machine components can be altered or repurposed with product engineering services to give the device new features. For example, the movement of a wristwatch is centuries-old technology that has been modified to offer new functionality such as battery indicator, day/night dial, and seconds hand. 

* Developmental design 

Development design focuses on combining multiple design elements. For instance, a motorcycle is a blend of a combustion engine and a bicycle. Another example is an electric car comprised of battery-powered motors and the conventional shape of a four-wheeled vehicle. 

* New design

The new product concept design expert focuses on creating unique ideas like the light bulb, airplane, and telephone. Most modern machine designs fall into adaptive and developmental design categories, and modifying and combining existing technologies require less creativity and a lower development budget.

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Machine design procedure

The machine design procedure steps are as follows.

  • Discovery of Problem: the part where a mechanical engineer or the client recognizes a problem without a solution
  • Ideation: concepts for possible ideas for machine mechanisms.
  • Analysis: mechanical engineer analyzes the mechanism to see if the machine output offers a practical solution.
  • Material Selection: once the mechanism is deemed adequate, it is time to choose suitable construction materials.
  • Machine Elements: since a machine is usually comprised of multiple components of varying sizes and specifications, each piece must be built to complement each other. The material of choice determines whether the part can withstand force, friction, and pressure without deforming.
  • Adjustments: changes to the initial design might be necessary due to budget constraints.
  • Drawing: detailed sketches of components and the assembly process. A mechanical engineer works with a manufacturing facility to determine the technical feasibility of the design. The manufacturer may request additional changes.
  • Production: all components are manufactured before assembly.

Most mechanical engineers rely on CAD (computer-aided design) software to run initial tests, including but not limited to structural rigidity, thermodynamics, and operational simulation.

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General machine design considerations

A mechanical engineer must balance cost, design requirements, and usability. Factors to consider include:

  • Cost – In any project, the budget determines if a design decision is feasible. The best design offers functionality and reliable performance at the lowest possible price. Higher-quality materials are typically more expensive than lower-quality materials. But when the more affordable alternative provides equal dependability, it is an opportunity to be cost-effective.
  • Efficiency – In the past, machines were bulky and inefficient, and today they are more energy-efficient without sacrificing output. An efficient machine can provide high work and performance despite lower power consumption, i.e., an electric motor can now power a sports car.
  • Strength or rigidity – Assuming the environment where the machine is installed and used generates enough pressure to inflict damage to smaller components, the prototype design engineering professional has to ensure the overall structure is rigid enough to withstand the applied force. The lack of stiffness and rigidity make deformation inevitable, and the slightest distortion may cause inefficiency, poor performance, or machine failure.
  • Wear and tear – No matter how well-designed a machine is, wear and tear are inescapable. For instance, metallic components become malleable when exposed to heat. Corrosion is another risk if a device is exposed to moisture. When metal components rub against each other for an extended period, the surface materials are ground down over time. The selection of surface materials affects the reliability and useful life of the machine.

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  • Lubrication – The wear of two contacting metal surfaces is minimized by using lubrication. A mechanical engineer must ensure moving components are lubricated to maintain performance. The machine owner or operator should also have easy access to regularly refill or replace the lubricant.
  • Safety – To ensure safety for the machine operator and everyone else in the vicinity of the machine during use, there can be no hazards like emissions or exposed sharp objects. The device should receive a warning if the threat cannot be eliminated. The machine must meet safety standards such as OHSA and ANSI, although the certifications are not applied in every country.
  • Ease of assembly – The mechanical engineer should ensure that all assembled components construct a fully-functioning machine for mass-produced design. Each piece must fit ideally using standard fasteners and tools.
  • Ease of disassembly – Some companies deliberately design their products to be irreparable after disassembly. Buyers are forced to replace a broken product rather than send it for repair. Mechanical engineers ensure ease of use for both assembly and disassembly. The machine’s maintenance and repair, including replacement parts, should not be a hindrance.
  • Ease of control and servicing – No matter how sophisticated the machine design is, the operator has to be able to control functions and features without difficulty. Some machines require well-trained or licensed operators, but it does not mean the device is designed to be challenging to handle.

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  • Minimum weight and dimensions – Strength, rigidity, and transportability are essential characteristics. When possible, machines are made of compact, lightweight, rigid materials. For example, the non-mechanical parts of the assembly, such as the handle or frame, are high-quality aluminum alloys instead of cast iron to save weight without sacrificing strength. 
  • Durability and reliability – A simple design, such as a dishwasher, must be reliable to attract buyers. Long functional life and easy repair help build the company’s reputation in the market, making the company or brand name consumer-friendly. A durable machine requires minimum maintenance and stays fully functional despite extensive use. Standardized parts for machines simplify the design process and maintenance for engineers and users.

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The availability of parts helps reduce the design cost, and standardized parts make upgrading practical. Suppose the company or engineer offers additional components to improve performance or troubleshoot common issues. In that case, the mechanical engineering company must ensure the subsequent design work is quick and affordable. Machine appearance is a significant factor that helps determine consumer purchase decisions in a competitive market.

How Cad Crowd can help

We also offer a full range of contract manufacturing and patenting services for inventors and entrepreneurs. With a complete range of product design and development solutions, Cad Crowd is ready to help you with any aspect of your design project. Get an estimate now, and tell us about your project. We’ll review your requirements and connect you with an industry-leading mechanical engineer with the skills and experience you need to realize your project goals.