This site supports the Precision Machine Design course at San Jose State University.

ME 250 Course Description

Principles of precision machine design.  Exact kinematic constraint. Error motions of a machine.  Integration of mechanical design, materials, sensors, and metrology for precision applications.

ME 250 Course Goals

1.     To provide the student with an overview of the principles of precision machine design, and develop within him or her, the necessary understanding and discipline to successfully design and develop precision machines and mechanisms.

2.     To introduce the student to the field of precision engineering and the body of literature in this field.

3.     To sharpen research skills and written and oral communication skills.

ME 250 Student Learning Objectives

Upon successful completion of this course, students will be able to:

1.     Explain in his/her own words and distinguish the meanings of accuracy, repeatability, resolution, cosine error, sine error, and Abbé error.

2.     Describe the concept of kinematic constraint; analyze and evaluate existing kinematic design approaches to determine degrees of freedom and ability to meet the design intent; apply the concept of kinematic design for a particular application.

3.     Explain in his/her own words the pros and cons of flexure design, identify where a flexure could be used to accomplish a particular design goal, and conceptually design a flexural system to achieve the desired “stiff” and “flexible” degrees of freedom.

4.     Explain the fundamental concepts in geometric dimensioning and tolerancing (GD&T).

5.     Select appropriate materials to design a precision component or device considering tradeoffs in performance, cost, machinability, etc.

6.     Apply the concept of error budgeting to the design of an instrument.

7.     Explain in his/her own words the concept of self-calibration and where it can be used.

8.     Explain what is meant by, and identify, the structural and measurement loops in a precision device.

9.     List some of the important actuators used in precision instruments, explain their performance characteristics, and select an appropriate one for a particular application.

10.    List some of the important sensors used in precision instruments, explain their performance characteristics, and select an appropriate one for a particular application.

Required Texts/Readings


Smith, S. T., Chetwynd, D. G., Foundations of Ultraprecision Mechanism Design, CRC Press, 1994.  (ISBN-10:  2884490019, ISBN-13:  978-2884490016)

Other Readings

Slocum, A. H., Precision Machine Design, Society of Manufacturing Engineers, Dearborn, MI, 1992.

Smith, S. T., Flexures, Elements of Elastic Mechanisms, CRC Press, 2000.

Blanding, D. L., Exact Constraint: Machine Design Using Kinematic Principles, ASME, New York, 1999.

Evans, C. E., Precision Engineering: An Evolutionary View, Cranfield Press, Bedford, UK, 1989.