As name says, it is a concept that you generate to address the requirements and specifications of a particular product. Conceptual design is a phase of overall design and the main objective of this phase is to create layouts or plans of the product to be designed.
A conceptual design phase has following tasks:
Requirements & Specifications: In this task you have to gather all the requirements and specifications for the product to be designed. Requirements are those which you will require to list down the purpose of the product. For example, while designing a high speed car, what should be the maximum speed limit for that car, comes under requirements. Specifications are the details of a design that you will require to list down the arrangement of internal and external structure. For example, what should be the seating capacity & maximum luggage capacity? Whether doors will have inward opening or outward opening? etc.
Conceptual Design Views:
After gathering all the requirements and specifications you must start working on generating rough sketches or layouts. You should generate 3-4 designs of the same product and of course with different layouts. This provides an upright baseline study and looking at pros and cons of all the designs, best design can be selected. You must include 3-4 plans for each design for better understanding.
All the generated designs undergo following two studies:
Trade-off study: Here you have to make an assessment of you design as per cost, performance and weight. Trade-off study is basically a compromise with the design parameter. If you are selecting a design which is lighter in weight then its cost will be high and so will be its performance. So basically you need to compromise with anyone of the parameter. An ideal case would be a design with low cost, lighter in weight and with high performance.
Analysis: In this study you have to validate your design on several parameters like Basic loads, Load paths, Aerodynamics, Weight and Balance, Stability, Structural Shape, Component placement, Aeromechanics, Manufacturing, Joining methods, Producability engineering etc.
The design configuration that passes both the above studies is finally selected and is named as Selected Candidate configuration. After this, you need to create refined layouts for the selected configuration. This further goes to the next phase of design which is known a Preliminary Design Phase.
An overview of a conceptual design is as follows:
- Loading conditions
- Rough layout through sketches
- Number of components required as per loading
- Components positioning as per stability, weight & balance
- Cross section and shape decision as per load paths
- Material selection as per strength criteria
- Manufacturing considerations
- Joining methods