Mechanisms & Mentorship Video Series: Symmetric Over-Center Clamping Mechanism

Ever wondered what it would be like to be mentored one-on-one by a senior engineer that’s using SOLIDWORKS to successfully deliver solutions to industry clients? My name is Rafael Testai, and in this video series “Mechanisms & Mentorship,” we’ll take a look behind the scenes to see how a hand-picked engineer has designed one of their mechanisms in granular detail. We’ll “open the hood” to analyze their CAD design and thought process behind the solution. I’ll ask them questions about the project, roadblocks, challenges, specific insights they learned, and how they’re using SOLIDWORKS to solve real world problems.

You’ll learn a mixture of soft skills and hard skills. This series is perfect for viewers who are already proficient in SOLIDWORKS (CSWA, CSWP, CSWE) and want to take the next step in their careers.

In this episode of Mechanisms & Mentorship, I’ll interview Senior Product Development Engineer, John Martell from in Arizona. We’ll focus on the clever mechanism that he designed called “Symmetric Over-Center Clamping Mechanism.”


Time Stamps

1) What Problem Were You Trying to Solve? (Min 1:07)  The customer had a medical device that was similar to a straight wire. After usage, the medical device had bends. The customer wanted John to design a fixture that would straighten the wire in the medical device, so that it could be reprocessed and reused again.

2) Big Picture Mechanism Explained (Min 1:38)

3) PRO TIP: Look at Existing Off the Shelf Components (Min 6:36) Start by gathering requirements that the customer gives you. Then, look for inspiration on how to solve the problem at hand by looking for off the shelf straightening devices that already exist.

4) When to Use a Sketch Notebook and Why? (Min 10:30) Part of John’s process in mechanical design engineering is using an actual pen and paper notebook to jot down ideas, requirements, visualization, mechanisms, and track project progress. He explains that his brain feels optimally engaged when using this medium to flesh out ideas. Though there are perks of OneNote and similar electronic notes apps, and it is very useful at certain points in a project, John shared that he prefers paper and pen over a tablet. Do you agree? What are your preferences? Please comment below.

5) Borrowing inspiration from existing mechanisms and devices (Min 18:38) John explains that getting acquainted with as many mechanisms as possible will help you in your journey as a mechanical design engineer. This knowledge will result in doing less development in designs. He references the websites and McMaster-Carr as sources of inspiration.

BONUS #1: Blooper (Min 16:50)

 BONUS #2: Fun fact: Did you know that John Martell is a musician and has over 2 million listens from the songs he has created and published on Spotify? Listen to his Verified Spotify artist profile here. In addition, John created the intro audio track for the “Being an Engineer” podcast, which is ranked as the #1 and #2 podcast on Google for the terms “Mechanical Engineer Podcast” and “Mechanical Engineering Podcast.” How many of you are engineers and also enjoy playing music? Comment below. Now may be a good time to connect with each other. ?

To learn more about John Martell, visit his LinkedIn.


If you read until the very end, I greatly appreciate it. I would encourage you to follow me on Linkedin so that we can stay in touch and you can be notified when more articles get published. I lead with value and my writing style is direct and to the point.        ?

Any recommendations on who you think I should interview next? Feel free to reach out to me on Linkedin or Instagram. I read all correspondence.



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