The main thrust of this research is in developing a knowledge-based system for the design of a mechanical engineering process. The study concentrates on developing methodologies for initial design and redesign in a qualitative format. The component selected is a die for plastic extrusion. A design algorithm using best first heuristic search and expert knowledge, both in procedural and declarative form, forms the core of the process. Initial design and redesign methodologies are presented that can enable efficient design of a component using expert knowledge. Some generality has been accomplished by the implementation of the techniques to dies of different cross sectional shapes. The software is written in Lisp within an object oriented software package using analysis modules written in C.