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Episode 54 – Scaling

Increasing or decreasing the size of of a design is not as simple as multiplying all the dimensions by a scale factor.  It often requires a complete redesign of everything.

The obvious problems are that some things are not scalable.  For example, the device will be subjected to the same wind, rain, snow, and temperature changes no matter what size it is.

A little less obvious is the size of the object is changed by the scale factor, but the cross sectional area is changed by the square of the scale factor, (scale factor X scale factor).  Since the strength of material is related to the cross section area of the material the strength changed by the square of the scale factor.  The volume and therefore the weight and price of the materials will change by the cube of the scale factor (scale factor X scale factor X scale factor).   It is easy to see that things quickly get “out of whack”, and need to be thought-out much much more.

Also some properties completely change depending upon the size of the object.  A good example is aerodynamic properties of wing shape, and flow properties of liquids and gases through pipes.

Probably completely new types of materials will be used and the whole design completely redone as the scale changes.

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