Carl Heideman
Carl Heideman
10/2/17 4:12 p.m.

In his book “The Art of Race Car Design,” Bob Riley describes what he calls bracket art. “There are a lot of brackets on a race car, at least that’s what I call them, whether a bolted-on piece or a welded-on piece.

“I want,” he continues, “all the pieces to flow instead of having jagged edges. In a way, it makes a better design.” We’re constantly making brackets for our own projects, and we always take Riley’s words to heart as we work. We find that taking the time to make every bracket just right gives us not only the satisfaction of quality craftsmanship, but also yields homemade hardware that simply works better–and doesn’t have sharp edges that make us bleed.

We recently refined a crude bracket into something that “flows.” Maybe it’s not art, but we like the finished product a lot better than the original. Here’s how a few extra minutes made that difference.

Read the rest of the story

stuart in mn
stuart in mn UltimaDork
10/2/17 5:20 p.m.

One of my professors in engineering school had a saying about good design:

1. Make it work.

2. Make it simple.

3. Make it pretty.

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner MegaDork
10/2/17 5:59 p.m.
stuart in mn said:

One of my professors in engineering school had a saying about good design:

1. Make it work.

2. Make it simple.

3. Make it pretty.

It could be argued that 3 is the inevitable result of 2.

I know some engineers who stopped listening at 1.

Kreb
Kreb UltraDork
10/2/17 6:34 p.m.

My experience is that the majority of the time, beauty does in fact follow function. And if there's no way to make something attractive in a way that we associate with aesthetics, good design  is still its own reward. Custom wiring jobs are one of the best examples of this. Tight, intelligently-routed looms imply that all is right with the world. Haphazard nests of wires suggest that failure is imminent.

mndsm
mndsm MegaDork
10/2/17 6:42 p.m.
Keith Tanner said:
stuart in mn said:

One of my professors in engineering school had a saying about good design:

1. Make it work.

2. Make it simple.

3. Make it pretty.

It could be argued that 3 is the inevitable result of 2.

I know some engineers who stopped listening at 1.

This. So much this. 

vwcorvette
vwcorvette SuperDork
10/2/17 8:07 p.m.

Strother MacMinn, in a response to a survey I sent him on automotive design, said (and I paraphase here) that if you can spend the money and time to make something ugly you could just as easily make it beautiful.

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
10/2/17 8:39 p.m.

Thanks, glad that you enjoyed the piece. Carl definitely knows his stuff.

ultraclyde
ultraclyde PowerDork
10/3/17 9:16 a.m.
iadr said:
Keith Tanner wrote:
stuart in mn said:

One of my professors in engineering school had a saying about good design:

1. Make it work.

2. Make it simple.

3. Make it pretty.

It could be argued that 3 is the inevitable result of 2.

I know some engineers who stopped listening at 1.

IMO, working for a dealership, engineers stop halfway through step one... and start messing with another aspect that already worked.

Yeah, my gut reaction was "unless they engineer for Audi or BMW, then they never make it through #1"

stuart in mn
stuart in mn UltimaDork
10/3/17 10:03 a.m.

As the engineer who posted that quote, I'd like to say that many (most?) of us strive to work through all three steps whenever we can.  Time schedules and budgets that are out of our control do often get in the way.

TurboFocus
TurboFocus Reader
10/3/17 12:03 p.m.

im honest, i stop at 1.

wvumtnbkr
wvumtnbkr UltraDork
10/3/17 2:53 p.m.
TurboFocus wrote:

im honest, i stop at 1.

Me too for the most part.  I am too impatient when doing an engine swap or whatever.  I spend time once it is done to go back over areas that I can do better, but initially, I am make it work...

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner MegaDork
10/4/17 10:11 a.m.
stuart in mn said:

As the engineer who posted that quote, I'd like to say that many (most?) of us strive to work through all three steps whenever we can.  Time schedules and budgets that are out of our control do often get in the way.

I wish it was most. In my experience, it's more like "some". I've worked with one engineer who puts the first crazy idea that comes to mind into production, and he'll come up with the most tortured math possible to back it up. Then things fail, and he trots out the math to show that it's impossible. Combine this with a lack of attention to detail in fabrication and he's not a credit to the profession.

Crackers
Crackers HalfDork
10/4/17 11:35 a.m.

Or you can be like me. 

Start at 2, go back to 1, remember that 3 was a thing and pretend you'll eventually remake the part in a prettier more functional revision later, and never come back to it. 

jkevin
jkevin None
2/5/18 9:54 a.m.

As I’ve understood over the years, using a radius also prevents stress cracking. So beauty IS good engineering.

93EXCivic
93EXCivic MegaDork
2/5/18 10:01 a.m.
stuart in mn said:

As the engineer who posted that quote, I'd like to say that many (most?) of us strive to work through all three steps whenever we can.  Time schedules and budgets that are out of our control do often get in the way.

That has been my experience too. I mean I'd say at least 80% of engineers do that that have worked with. However the flip side is we are often constrained but marketing or budgets that make the right way to do something impossible. 

Appleseed
Appleseed MegaDork
2/5/18 10:30 a.m.

Radi also reduce weight. See the Project X  Bomb thread for proof.

Coldswede
Coldswede
2/5/18 1:05 p.m.

The time factor for each stage works something like this:

1.  Takes 15 or 20 minutes

2.  Takes 2 hours more

3. Takes all day.

I do love some of the gorgeous fabrication guys come up with.

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