Basic Calculations

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HintLightbulb.png Hint:

  1. Use Calculations Template - you can make a copy of it or include just the relevant quantities.
  2. Document your work at a wiki page named MachineName_Calculations
  3. Use Presentation Template to explain your calculations with pictures and diagrams. Embed this on the MachineName_Calculations wiki pag. For simple calculations, take pictures of backs of envelopes, your note sheets, screencasts, etc - that show basic quantifications. Use whatever is relevant to quantify what you are working on.


Calulations are importance for reasons of determining performance. They are also used in product literature to show useful product specifications.

Scaling Calculations are calculations that also consider scalability. These calculations include all relevant physical, mechanical, fluid, electrical, chemical, thermal, static, dynamic, aerodynamic, acoustic, optical, hydrological, nuclear, structural, and other properties that allow a machine to be effective for a particular purpose. Scalability is emphasized because a single design should be adaptable to different scales of operation via Intensive and Extensive Scalability. Calculations include both parameters and calculations based on these parameters.

The typical calculations for consideration are:


  1. Motor Torque based on power
  2. Basic force, torque, stress limit calculations
  3. Center of Mass + Weight
  4. Range of Motion Design calculations
  5. CAE analysis for structural failure, fatigue, deformation, crash testing, abrasion, thermal properties, and others
  6. Cost
  7. Beam deflection
  8. Expected lifetime
  9. Basics Statics calculations according to Basic Statics Calculations Procedure
  10. Expected maintenance cost according to Maintenance Cost Template
  11. Performance/power/speed/lifetime/lift/etc.
  12. Precision calculations - what precision of motion is achieved in devices
  13. Tolerancing requirements
  14. Hydraulic fluid flow and pressure
  15. Basic static loads analysis of mechanical devices
  16. Rotation speeds
  17. Bending forces
  18. Shear strength limits
  19. Thermal loss calculations
  20. Thermal profiles - FEA
  21. Geometrical optics
  22. Torque calculations
  23. Rotational inertia
  24. EMF calculations
  25. Thermal mass calculations
  26. Combustion calculations
  27. Embodied energy calculations
  28. etc.

These calculations should be performed for all critical components of machines, even though the aim is not Value Engineering. In the case over-building of components for purposes of lifetime design, calculations are relevant for providing accurate assessment of safety factors and performance expectations independent of empirical performance data.

A list of desired calculations or data points should be produced for each machine. Note: a spreadsheet or education page should be included to give a crash course on each calculation for the benefit of a novice who has a working knowledge of secondary-level