This week production has kicked back up again after exams, I’ve given another presentation on my work, and I’ve embarked on a new project to accelerate production for the future.
In early January I gave my second presentation describing this godforsaken project to a large audience. I was actually much more nervous this time around than last, since I actually interact with the people I was speaking to on a daily basis, as opposed to a group of random middle-aged teachers that I’ll never see again. To subdue some of this anxiety, I decided to make it unscripted and go off of what I’ve been talking about for the last year-and-a-half. Honestly, it was pretty easy. While I think it’s important to describe to other people what you have been doing, I always wish that I could wait until I was actually finished my work until I revealed all my secrets. I feel like an artist who displays their work before a painting is completed.
Well, I’ve also been working on finishing the painting as well. I’ve started to use class periods during the school day to work on individual joint components, now revised back to a typical sandwich joint. One challenge that I encountered during the week was getting enough work done in a 45 minute chunk of time. However, the CNC milling process has many stopping points in set up that aren’t crucial to continue all the way through, so it’s also convenient in some respects.
Looking forward, I hope to mill out fixtures (a machining term referring to pieces of metal that hold the actual parts in place) that would allow me to mill four, eight, or twelve parts in one press of a button. Yes, the setup time would increase dramatically, but it would be one step closer to mass production, and definitely cut down on over all manufacturing time.
In related news, I’ve had the opportunity to use the skills I’m learning with this project in milling parts for the robot. This year’s competition includes a lot of obstacles for the robot to traverse, obstacles that are better suited to tracked vehicles. So, I’ve been in the process of designing a tracked vehicle assembly on Fusion 360, and we’re now at the point to have it milled. We’re still debating wether or not to mill in house or ship the job out to a contact with a larger, professional water jet machine. Here’s a version with a bunch of weight reduction holes integrated into the design; I think it looks sweet: