DESIGNING COMPONENTS and SYSTEMS

Post 415 – by Gautam Shah

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Zytglogge Movement_from_1530_by_Kasper_Bruner

When a designer conceives an object, it is either as a whole, or as a composition of parts that form the whole. A composition of parts has an inherent but distinct order of coordination within it, whereas objects conceived as a whole may not project such an order.

InSight lander in assembly

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Parts of an object, even before being manufactured, and before physically placed together, have some degree of coordination. The process of coordination starts within the thought processes of a designer along with the concept of the object.

IDF Caterpillar D9

In a continuum, designers consciously (intellectually) or subconsciously (intuitively) identify elements relevant for known situations; or inversely identify situations where known elements can be fitted. Elements and situations are mutually relevant to designers. Most universal context, for both, the element and the situation, to be relevant is the user.Mechanized conveyor lines

In a design process, the components, the situation, or the orders of context are initially not obvious, logical or easily identifiable. The design process for a creative lay person and a trained person or the designer is very different. A creative lay person simply goes on creating (assembling, modifying) things without being aware why certain things exist in a certain manner. For a creative person the end is important, means are irrelevant. A trained person or a designer, on the other hand, tries to discover the logic behind it. Selection of an element may be intuitive initially, but there is always a later effort to justify the actions intellectually.

Subcontracting. Bogie-wheel assembly. Facing, counterboring and milling operations are performed on bogie-wheel levers in the machine shop of an Eastern subcontractor. Painesville Machine Company

A designer justifies all the actions like selection, rejection, inclusion or composition of various elements. In doing so the designer refines the intellectual prowess by equipping with an experience that is:

  1. definable
  2. repeatable or recreate-able as a whole or in selective parts
  3. recordable -its perceptive aspects
  4. transferable to another person
  5. increase or decrease its intensity (time scale) and diffuse or intensify its concentration (space scale).

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For a designer, knowing means to achieve a specific end are very important. Proper record keeping of all design decision processes helps here. It is very difficult to register dreams, intuitions or inspirations. One needs to recall them in a different time and space context. All intuitions or inspirations however absurd, have some physical context of origin. Designers unlike a lay crafts-person or artist, are trained and disciplined, so record their design related thought processes. Thought processes thin out or obliterate completely with passage of time, so must be recorded as early as possible. Documentation of every aspect of design process is very necessary. Such expertise helps a designer to handle extensive or more complex intuitions or inspirations.

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Prefabricated house construction

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SYSTEMS

Post 314 – by Gautam Shah 

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Buttresses Flying Buttresses Cathedral Gothic

Systems are purposive entities qualifying the togetherness of parts or components and smaller systems. It is a qualification by which the whole is recognized along with its constituents. Systems have sub units that are well orchestrated in time and appropriately placed in space. For every change in the constitution, composition and positional value of any of the sub unit, there is a corresponding change in the system. Some changes, though, are insignificant, and can be ignored.

MicroAirVehicleIn a designed (intentional) system nearly all sub units have a purpose of their in being with the others. In designed system the sub units are selected, prepared, modified, manufactured, for being together in a particular format. In a complex system only a few sub units are relevant to other units. Some sub units occasionally and due to their position remain latent. In a very large system such as of nature, the sub units do not reveal themselves, unless their order is probed. A system composed of apparently irrelevant or latent parts can still continue to be relevant as a whole.

Orquideorama

Simple systems have strong edges, and are like buildings, newspaper or a computer programme. Complex systems can have diffused boundaries due to convergence of other systems such as our own body, city administration or internet. Nature’s systems are very extensive spread reaching to infinity, and include atmosphere, planetary or food chain.

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A system’s sub units are classifiable as parts, components and subsystems. The components by themselves function as a simple system, and are replaceable entities, though have connection formalities. Subsystems manifest through their order. Order is an inherent characteristic of systems. It is the system organization.

Star system

In designed systems when elements are gathered, an order can be recognized. A budding system can have order that is alogical and loosely definable, and not apparent to others. Just the same as soon as the systems begins to function the order becomes obvious, logical and definable. Recognition of order in a system helps in many ways:

  • It helps the definition of a system.
  • It endows self sufficiency, so that the system can become an ever replaceable component.
  • It provides nodes for dependency so that the system becomes integrated whole.

Paul Klee > Revolution des Viadukts -Abstract system

In all designed systems the primary order is that of assembly or sequence of manufacture. However, in complex systems there are many orders. A system is the web of relationships that creates emergent properties of the whole. These properties of the whole may not be found in any analysis the sub-units.

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PARTS and COMPONENTS

Postby Gautam Shah

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PARTS

In our day to day life, we use many different types of objects. At a very simple level an object is made up of only one or few materials. Such objects though have variety of sizes and shapes, and serve similar purposes. Parts could be elemental units that form assemblies or composition but need not become functional components. Such efforts may however, lead to abstract systems, essentially revealing relationships.

Parts are always replaceable, and similar parts are affected similarly.Parts may not be similar but gain a value by being in certain position for required purpose.

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When we recognize an object as a part, we know that a whole range of nearly similar objects, worthy of being a ‘part’, are available. A part has universal character, but when assembled into a component, it acquires a different personality, due to the placement, location and function. 640px-Bihar_bullock_cart_parts

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A part is that elemental unit to which the whole can be reduced or resolved.

A screw, nails, handles, a razor blade, buttons, are examples of parts. These are destined to become members of a larger entity -the component. Cement, sand, water and bricks, as parts, form a masonry wall, which in turn is component of a building. Parts like a tube, tyres, air, rims, together create a component -the wheel. The wheel with many other components makes up a system of movement.

Within a composition, parts exhibit an active to passive interactions with other parts, as determined by the design. But parts dealing with the environment (including the user) often show indeterminable behaviour.

COMPONENTS

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A component is unique composition of many parts, to serve a specific purpose, it must remain steadfast to a function and yet to be relevant. Components have a specific identity, compared to Parts, which have a universal character.

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A component is more intimately linked to the larger composition-the system, than a part is. Components are conceived to be within a larger composition or system, and derive their identity on the nature of their role within the system.

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Some components remain static and so are useful, but many others are dynamic and only for that reason, become members of the functional system. Components manifest at very specific location and occasion, so can be easily identified and separated. A part is also a component when it becomes exclusive due to the placement, location or function. Components show reactivity to presence or elimination of energy by becoming dormant, active to hyperactive.

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