A team of seniors from the Mechanical Engineering Department designed and built a device that automates the disposal of scrap metal, making it safer and more efficient.
The students created the device as a Senior Design project sponsored by Accu-Precision, a Littleton-based manufacturer of custom parts for customers in the aerospace and industrial sectors. The machining chip disposal system can lift and dump 600 lbs. of waste material at the push of a button, reducing the time it takes to dispose of the material from 30 minutes to five. This cuts the time spent per year on this cumbersome task from more than 1,000 hours to around 170 hours.
“Accu-Precision has 30 machines in their Littleton workshop and they have a bin under each that is filled with scrap,” said Blake Fardulis, project manager of the team. “They have to unload those bins once a day, so the well-paid drivers have to stop what they are doing and take the bins to the dumpster. They have to lift the bins by themselves or use a forklift truck.
The machining chip disposal system automates this procedure. The device, made up of more than 110 different parts of the machine, can be activated remotely to save time and effort.
The senior design team said they were proud that their device will be used in industry. The disposal system is a functional machinery, rather than a prototype or a design idea.
“There’s a lot of purpose in what we’re doing,” said systems engineer Wesley Schumacher. “It’s not just something we’re going to send to the customer that will be on the back burner for years. Accu-Precision will use it every day. “
The students said they were drawn to this project due to the purely mechanical work they would be tasked with. Students brainstormed and completed various CAD designs even before their application for Accu-Precision was their sponsor was accepted.
“This is one of the more mechanical Senior Design projects and the requirements that have been developed around it have flowed into the whole process,” said Andrew Stiller, the team’s CAD engineer. “It prompted us to question our ability to design devices and even analyze them. It was a good process. “
Most of the team’s time creating the disposal system was spent in the Idea Forge machine shop for approximately 150-200 hours manufacturing 110 custom parts. The students said they were in store on the first day of the spring 2022 semester to start.
“The processing logistics could have been a real nightmare, but we did it on time,” said production engineer Kate Nichols. “We also had a soldering iron via Accu-Precision, so it worked very well. We sent them what we needed and they helped us with that ”.
The team said another rewarding aspect was the research and development process. The experience gave them a first-hand look at what a career in design and engineering consulting would be like.
“There are many companies whose sole purpose is to do exactly what we have done,” said Aleksey Volkov, the team’s chief financial officer. “The client comes to them with an idea and it is the consultant’s job to solve the problem. One day it could be in the aerospace industry; another day it might be in a different industry. Short-term ideation is really valuable.
The students are now testing the processing chip disposal system and finalizing the appearance of the device by routing the cables correctly, as well as making a smaller control box for a more elegant appearance.
On April 22, the team will present the disposal system at the College of Engineering and Applied Science Engineering Projects Expo 2022.
Explore all 2021-22 senior design projects