Mechanical Engineering Design Notes



Mechanics, Engineering Science

Theory notes

Worked examples

21st January 2015

Introduction to the Notes

1. Introduction

N.B. This site is currently undergoing some updating, while doing this I am trying to minimise problems of navigation and apologise for any difficulties users may be having.

These web pages are intended to provide learning support material for some of the topics found in an honours degree course in mechanical engineering. These notes were developed over a number of years while the author was lecturing at the University of Plymouth. One of the advantages of web pages is that it is easy to incorporate interactive material in the form of Java applets and these pages contain several.
In 2008 the author wrote and published a book [1] on mechanical engineering design, with the theme of automotive engines, which was used to draw together some of the subjects that make up mechanical engineering while providing a focus to encourage student involvement. These web pages will complement the book, which includes much more detail and background than is contained in these pages.

The topics currently covered in this site:

  • Mechanical engineering design, including some materials. Suitable for 2nd, 3rd / final year students
  • Mechanics, engineering science, strength of materials. Suitable for 1st and 2nd year students
  • Simulation of dynamic systems using Matlab - Simulink. Suitable for use as part of a 1st or 2nd year course in Mechanics or Control
  • Finite element analysis (FEA). Suitable for 3rd / final year students
  • Manufacturing processes. Suitable for 2nd, 3rd / final year students

2. Interactive Java Applets
Instructions for using the applets is given on the web page that loads the applet. While it is usually preferable to use SI units for all engineering calculations, this often leads to inconvenient data entry, involving lots of zeros! For this reason the required input is often NOT in SI units and the unit to be used is specified in the adjacent label at the left of the input box.

When the applets were originally written, they would run within the main browsers provided the Java plugin was installed, activated and security settings adjusted to allow applets to run.
In 2015/2016 Chrome and Firefox stopped allowing plugins (including Jave) to run.
To run these applets you will need to be using one of: Internet Explorer, Safari or Opera, you will have to adjust the security, either allowing plugins and/or enabling Java.
From version Java 7 update 51 security has been enhanced and Applets without certificates will not run without a work around. My Applets do not have such certificates, but the following steps will enable them to run:

  • Go to Java Control Panel -
    in Windows click 'Start' then type in 'Configure Java', the Java Control Panel is displayed
  • Click on the 'Security' tab
  • Click on 'Edit Site List...', this displays the 'Exception Site List'
  • Click the 'Add' button
  • In the blank line under 'Location' type my web address:, then click 'OK'
  • Back on the 'Java Control Panel the web address should appear in the 'Exception Site List'. Click 'OK'
  • When you try to run an Applet you will get a security warning - you have to click on the 'Run' button to allow it to run
However Applets may still not run if your browser or Windows security level is set to the highest. Setting to the intermediate level will normally enable the applets to run. Depending upon your browser a few of the applets may need the Java Run Time Environment (JRE) to be downloaded and installed on the computer. With a broadband connection this is usually quick and straight forward.

List of and Links to Interactive Engineering Resources, Java Applets and JavaScript
These are Java Applets unless it is stated that they are JavaScript.


Calculator operating with Reverse Polish Notation (RPN) click here

Design and Stress Analysis

Bolt proof loads with plot click here
Bolt ultimate load calculator (JavaScript) click here
Bolt (or rivet) stresses in an array caused by an offset load with plot click here
Buckling of a column with plot click here
Buckling of a column calculator (JavaScript) click here
Clutch design calculator (JavaScript) click here
Column subject to eccentric load click here
Engine (ICE, 4 stroke petrol) thermodynamics and slider crank mechanism click here
...original version - user states volumetric efficiency
Engine (ICE, 4 stroke petrol) thermodynamics and slider crank mechanism click here
...newer version - volumetric efficiency calulated from inlet valve lift and diameter and early exhaust valve opening can be included
Fatigue - modified Goodman diagram click here
Fracture mechanics - Stress intensity factor and crack growth rate calculations click here
Fracture mechanics - Paris equation for crack growth, conversion of factor 'C' for different units click here
Shaft diameter required to withstand bending moment and torque, Tresca and von Mises criteria (JavaScript) click here
Spring design / analysis click here
Stress concentration factors - flat plate with a central hole click here
Stress concentration factors - stepped shaft with shoulder click here
Two dimensional stress analysis, Mohr circle and von Mises failure criterion click here


Link to Java Applet that computes the load capacity and pressure distribution for a tilted pad thrust bearing
A Java Applet to assist with journal bearing design is given here
Comparison of Raimondi and Boyd chart result with Java applet (above) click here
Vibration Free vibration of a second order system click here Metal Forming Axisymmetric compression of a cylinder click here Civil Engineering Stability of a wall subjected to a uniform wind load - click here Scilab

Scilab is a 'Free and Open Source Software' package which has similar capabilities to the Matlab and Simulink package. Users with experience of Matlab Simulink will have little difficulty using Scilab (which incorporates Xcos, which is very similar to Simulink).

I have 'translated' the Java Applet to assist with journal bearing design (see 'Lubrication', above) into Scilab and further information about this (including how to use this) is given:
Notes on Computation of a Journal Bearing With Hydrodynamic Lubrication

I plan to add additional resources in due course.

3. References relating to Design
1. ** 'Mechanical Engineering Design Notes - Theme: Automotive Engines', by David Grieve, 2008, 305 pages. ISBN: 978-0-9560037-0-6. Available 12.50 (including P+P) from the author, contact:
2. ** 'Mechanical Engineering Design', by J E Shigley and C R Mischke, 5th Ed., McGraw Hill.
3. 'Engineering Design', by Dieter, McGraw Hill, 1989.
4. 'Total Design', by S Pugh, Addison Wesley, 1991.
5. 'Case Studies in Engineering Design', by C Matthews, Arnold, 1998.
6. 'Mechanical Behaviour of Materials', by N E Dowling, Prentice - Hall, 1993.
7. 'Composites - Design Manual', by J A Quinn, J A Quinn Associates, Liverpool, L25 4SY, 2002.
8. ** 'Mechanical Design', by Peter R N Childs, Arnold, 1998.
9. 'Machine Elements in Mechanical Design', by R L Mott, Prentice - Hall Inc., 3rd ed. 1999.
10. 'Design of Machinery', by R L Norton, McGraw - Hill International Editions, 1999.
11. 'The Engineering Design Process', A Ertas and J C Jones, John Wiley and Sons, 1993.
12. 'Engineer's Toolkit - Engineering Ethics', by C Mitcham and R S Duvall, Prentice Hall, 2000.
13. 'An Engineer's Responsibility for Safety, Safety by Design', The Hazards Forum, 1996, ISBN: 0 9525103 1 6.
14. 'Modern Ceramic Engineering - Properties, Processing and Use in Design', D W Richerson, CRC Taylor and Francis, 2006, ISBN: 1-57444-693-2
Specifically about Engines / Vehicles:
Web site Excellent animations of a wide variety of engines by Matt Keveney.
Web Site How Stuff Works - Auto
15. 'The Motor Vehicle', Newton, Steeds and Garrett, various editions.
16. 'Bosch Automotive Handbook', H Bauer(Ed.), Published by Bosch, distributed by SAE, 2000.
17. 'Gasoline Fuel-Injection Systems L-Jetronic', Technical Instruction, Bosch, 1999, ISBN: 3-934584-29-2.
18 'Engines, an Introduction', J L Lumley, Cambridge University Press, 1999, ISBN: 0-521-64489-5.
19. 'Internal Combustion Engines', C R Ferguson and A T Kirkpatrick, John Wiley and Sons, 2nd Ed. 2001, ISBN: 0-471-35617-4. The publishers web site has some useful Java applets.
20. 'The Romance of Engines', by T Suzuki, Society of Automotive Engineers, Inc., 1997.
21. 'R-2800 - Pratt & Whitney's Dependable Masterpiece', by G White, SAE, 2001.
Under Water Vehicles:
22. 'An Introduction to ROV Operations' by G Last and P Williams, Oil Field Publications Ltd.
23. 'Handbook for ROV Pilot Technicians', by C Bell, M Bayliss, R Warburton, Oil Field Publications Ltd.
24. 'Submersible Vehicle Design Systems', by E E Allmendinger, 1990.
25. 'Design Aspects of Under Water Intervention Systems', by J G Hawley, M L Nuckols, G T Reader, I J Potter, Pub. Kendall Hunt, 1996.
Useful Reference:
26. 'Without Hot Air', by David J C MacKay, 2009. Free online: A lot of useful information on energy.
27. 'Roark's Formulas for Stress and Strain', by W C Young, 7th Ed. McGraw Hill.
** Indicates the text includes tables / charts from Raimondi and Boyd for plain hydrodynamic journal bearing design.

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Dr David J Grieve, CEng, MIMechE., 26th April 2017.

Contact the Author
Please contact me for comments and / or corrections or to purchase the book, at: