Our order of components from Misumi has arrived today. A big thanks to Mr. Chris Higgins from Misumi USA for sponsoring us! As I am writing this, the team is already hard at work to build the frame of the foundry. Stay tuned for more updates!
Our team has finished designing the automated electric furnace's control system. Since we are aiming to win the design competition, we couldn't neglect the electrical portion of the project. That's why we decided to design our own custom PCB and to get it manufactured professionally. Ryan has been hard at work since the weekend to finalize the circuit and the PCB's design. The PCB will be manufactured overseas. We should be getting it next week! Here are a few pictures of what the PCB will look like. I'm ready to bet that the electrical engineering capstone teams can't even match this!
Today, Ryan dissected (read: void the warranty) our new welder with the help of Gilles. Gilles is the electronics technician who is lending us a section of his lab to build the foundry. The goal of this operation was to find a way to control the welder remotely. To be able to do so, Ryan had to find where to "tap into" the welder's circuitry for our control system to control the welder's settings. This experiment was a bit dangerous considering the high voltage in the welder.
Today, the team headed downstairs to the EDML with our new welder. The goal was to test out its different features. We used scrapped gyroscope frames to see how the welder performed at melting aluminum. We measured the power consumed. We also measured the time it took for a puddle to form at multiple power settings. It worked great! Here are a few pictures of the results:
Today, we received and unpacked our new welder. Ryan went to pick it up last week in the United-States while he was on vacation over there.
The new welder is an Alpha-TIG 200X. It will be used to power the arc of our automated electric furnace. It has much more features than our previous welder that we used for testing. Its only downside is that it's yellow... We would've liked to get a red one to match our machine. Here are a few pictures:
Our winter break is over... Today was our first team meeting of 2018. We had a presentation from the Engineer in Residence about the upcoming deadlines for manufacturing and testing. We have a lot of milestones coming up, notably the assembly of the furnace's aluminum body and the manufacturing of the control system's hardware. More updates to come!
The fall semester is finally over. That's one step closer to graduation! Our team will take a break over the holidays to reunite with our families and get some rest. We'll be back in the second week of January.
Over the last few weeks, the team put in extra effort to finish the design of the automated electric furnace before the winter break. This effort payed off! The machine's design is completed. Here are a few renders of the final design that Patrick made:
The test we did last week revealed that the carbon electrodes don't last very long... As you can see in the picture, they they seem to burn and melt. During the test, the gap between the electrodes increased rapidly and it caused the arc to stop. We have two options now. Either we model the electrode's rate of consumption to build a control system or we look into different types of electrodes. The literature suggests we go for a tungsten electrode but this means that we'll have to get a new welder... Stay tuned for updates on the results of our tests!
Today, we did some tests downstairs in the Engineering Design and Manufacturing Laboratory (EDML). The goal was to find the optimal angle between the electrodes to get the maximal heat and power output. It went pretty well. The results will help us design the mechanism that will control the electrodes and the crucible. Here are a few pictures of our setup. (As you can see in the pictures, the school relaxed their safety requirements since our previous test.)
Today, we worked on a way to control the welder remotely. This is required by the school for safety reasons to be able to test the welder... We built a circuit with contactors that will be plugged into a dedicated wall outlet with surge protection. This circuit will allow a technician to stand in a separate room with an emergency stop button to cut the power immediately if something goes wrong. Here are a few pictures of the circuit:
Today, we tested the welder. The goal was just to strike an arc and measure the power output. It took a bit more time than expected to get this test approved. The school required extensive safety measures. For example, we had to wear a special thermal suit similar to NASA's Mercury space program suits.
Literally everywhere else:
Today, the welder was delivered to the school's loading dock. We went to pick it up. It took a bit more time than expected because there was a fire drill at the same time... All of the loading dock's staff took this opportunity to take a short (read: long) break and all the doors were locked. Long story short, we had to wait for the drill to finish and the fire fighters to clear everyone back inside. Below is a photo of the welder. Now, the goal is to get the first test going by next week.
Today, the team made "the best trade deal in the history of trade deals, maybe ever." We've been looking for a stick welder to prove our concept for a few weeks now. Unfortunately, the good ones were all too expensive for our budget. It was hard to justify spending close to 700$ for a stick welder even if we were to keep the welder to power the arc foundry. Out of nowhere, Mike spotted the Lincoln Electric AC225 arc welder at almost 45% off on a website. Because our team wanted free shipping, we got Home Depot to price match it. Thanks to Ryan's negotiation skills, we were able to get an extra 10% off by subscribing to Home Depot's e-newsletter! The welder should be delivered to the school in the next few days.
Today, our team adopted MS Sharepoint to manage the project. It synchronizes with MS Project and the cloud to help us meet the deadlines.
Today, our team finished figuring out the project's timeline. This is a crucial step since it will dictate all of our work in the future. Here's a preview of the timeline arranged in a Gantt chart.
Today, some of us headed to the "Properties and Failure of Materials" lab to find the mass of the aluminum samples that we'll be melting in our foundry. The samples are used in a Mode 1 fracture test. The goal is to reuse those samples instead of scrapping them. That's one of the selling points of our project.
Three different widths are available: 1in, 1.5in and 2in. (See picture)
Now that we know the size and the mass of the samples, we'll be able to make heat transfer/thermodynamic calculations to find the required specifications of our foundry.
Today was our first capstone lecture. Our team (along with the other 169 students registered) were presented with the course outline and the numerous deliverables of the project. We had a short team meeting after the lecture to discuss our first deliverable: the project selection application. The project selection application is a simple document meant to present our idea to the profs. Here's the document we made today. It will be interesting to witness how our design evolves over the semester...