It’s ok to go back on a design

During the development of the Claymore 6p Pocketqube deployer, I received a recommendation about the mechanical interfaces with launch vehicles. While it was a recommendation it would have been a new requirement in future therefore there would be some major redesign work required which would have been expensive and time consuming therefore it was best to solve this immediately.  If I had went with the initial design and launched it I could face significant time pressures to redesign and requalify the deployer for future customers. After redesigning one of the parts and carrying out FEA it resulted in the deployer failing due to high stresses in certain regions. More parts were redesigned but the results were the same and the deployer had to be completely redesigned from scratch. This resulted in less parts to be made and a simpler design and the issue has been avoided.

Sometimes it’s best to start from scratch again instead of focussing on trying to get a design to work. You made a design or concept but after some testing and prototyping there are issues, and the design just won’t meet your requirements. It may be cost prohibitive, or the lead times will always result in you missing deadlines therefore it may be best to go back to the drawing board to simplify the design or to eliminate the faulty component/feature. In some cases you will sink too much time trying to make that unfeasible time to work and in some cases the concept is a technological dead end. In my experience some projects end up in a mess when you are just trying to force the solution to work but from the beginning it was doomed. This can result in a poor reputation if it’s paid by a customer as the product will constantly breakdown due to those flaws never fully resolved.

However, you can take some positives with these issues just like with the Claymore, for example the lessons learned in the initial design allowed less time needed to design a completely new deployer plus new functionality has been added and will allow more functions to be added in future. A big bonus is also it is more flexible in launch vehicles where the old design would have limitations with its original mechanical interface. The new design could be made quicker because I didn’t need to figure out the same things and go through the same struggles and testing. Therefore, the design phase can be cheaper than struggling for months in trying to make a flawed design to work.

Sometimes it is best to swallow your pride and go back from scratch but as mentioned earlier it is not all bad and in fact being able to going backwards in the design phase can allow you to go forward. You won’t believe how quick you can get from developing new concepts to testing when you have learned from all your mistakes in the initial design.

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