My Gizmo--Update, Acid Test

Discussion of all things technological and/or gadgety
User avatar
Darrell
Good Christ I Need A Life
Posts: 6586
Joined: Tue Aug 19, 2008 12:12 am
Location: Colorado

My Gizmo--Update, Acid Test

Postby Darrell » Sat Dec 06, 2014 5:36 am

I’ve been designing and fabricating a gizmo in my spare time at work for the last several months. It's a tape applicator, used to adhere a double sided tape to aluminum and plastic bars used in framing of canvas prints. I finally finished it late yesterday, and put it in service this morning. My boss was so impressed he took it and me to the senior VP of the company to show it off. The leads, manager and director of the area I made it for all came and watched it work. There were lots of oohs and ahhhs.

I won’t bore you too much with technical details, but basically aluminum and plastic stretcher bars, used to assemble canvas prints (rather like how artist canvas is attached to conventional wooden stretcher bars), are assembled, and then an incredibly sticky double sided tape is laid along the outside edges and inside diagonal corners of the bars. The tape is nasty stuff to work with, and sticks to nearly everything, including the assemblers. The tape had been applied to the bars by hand, which is laborious, messy, and time consuming. My task was to design and build a machine that would apply the tape automatically. It does so, and it works rather well. The real trick was to establish the spacing between bars as they travel through the machine—the three proximity sensors (little black rectangles along the front side) sense the bars, start and stop the machine at certain times, and establish the spacing between bars along the running tape. The bars space at twice the length of the diagonals on the bar ends. There’s a small guillotine type blade, hidden inside the machine, that cuts the midpoint of the tape between pairs of bar ends, thus leaving just enough tape at each bar end to be folded back along the diagonal faces.

The machine’s various functions are controlled by a PLC (programmable logic controller), which receives inputs from the sensors, and turns the drive gearmotor on and off, and also fires the cutter. The cutter is powered by a small pneumatic cylinder via a solenoid valve, run off the house compressed air supply. The PLC, along with AC/DC voltage supply and DC gearmotor, are visible on the back of the machine. The bars are driven through the machine by pairs of polyurethane rollers either driven directly by the gearmotor, or via a timing belt (visible on the front), or gears (visible in the middle, from the ends or back). The electric motor is quite small; the gear reduction allows it to drive the machine without much load on the system.

When I began the project, I looked into commercial machines that would do the job. Though there are all sorts of tape applicator machines around, none were capable of dealing with the incredibly sticky, nasty tape we use. I talked with one company that thought one of their machines MIGHT work, but had no guarantee of it. Their machine was $15,000. I built my machine for less than $400, using mostly scrap metal and stuff we had on hand, such as the aluminum frame, PLC, etc. The gears and timing pulleys are plastic, the cheapest that could be found. The 12V DC gearmotor is the cheapest I could find, ~$50. The machine should eliminate three or four unskilled laborers doing it by hand, and do it several times as fast, with better quality. The bosses all have stars in their eyes—the VP mentioned passing it on to our corporate owners. Oh boy. Will I see any monetary reward for it? I highly doubt it. Since I made it for the company, they own any rights to it.

The aluminum front and rear frames are 5 1/8"x1/2"x12" long (scrap we had on hand), spaced 1 1/2" apart, just a hair wider than the bars. The overall footprint is 12"x12" or so. This is just a prototype, it’s rough around the edges. The clear Lexan covers in particular don’t look too hot—I’d never heat formed Lexan before, and struggled with it a bit. I'm waiting on some special adhesive to glue the edges together. Overall it looks pretty cool, though, and it does what it was meant to do. I put a lot of thought and time into this thing. After this prototype, I may wind up doing a Mk II design. The VP said they may want a bunch of them made.

Pics follow: several views of the front, sides and back. Later pics show the bars before and after assembly, then before and after taping. Pic 1114 shows that the tape must be manually applied to the nose end of the first bar, then the bar is inserted into the machine. Thereafter all that the operator needs to do is feed assembled bars into the machine, the taping and cutting happens automatically. The operator catches the bars as they exit the machine, then must fold the tape ends along the diagonals. Taped bars of various lengths are shown in 1118—the machine is insensitive to bar length. They do 12”, 16" and 20” bars, along with 30” and 40” bars for larger prints. They may go to bars as long as 60” in the near future. The machine will spit out a 12" bar in seven or eight seconds, and keep doing it as long as the operator keeps feeding bars into it.

DSC01098sm.jpg

DSC01102smjpg.jpg

DSC01107sm.jpg

DSC01110sm.jpg

DSC01112sm.jpg

DSC01113sm.jpg

DSC01114sm.jpg

DSC01115sm.jpg

DSC01116sm.jpg

DSC01118sm.jpg

DSC01120sm.jpg
You do not have the required permissions to view the files attached to this post.
Last edited by Darrell on Thu Dec 18, 2014 5:13 am, edited 2 times in total.
Eppur si muove--Galileo

User avatar
evan price
Trigger Junkie
Posts: 1777
Joined: Tue Aug 19, 2008 11:24 am
Location: OH-IO The heart of it all!

Re: My Gizmo

Postby evan price » Sat Dec 06, 2014 8:55 am

Rock on, sir! Great idea and execution. That is the spirit of america. I love it, it's just elegant enough to work and work well but simple enough to work for a long time.
Sic gorgiamus allos subjectatos nunc

http://ohioccwforums.org/
Ohioans for Concealed Carry:THE source for Ohio CCW information and discussion!

User avatar
Netpackrat
Probably Unemployed
Posts: 12279
Joined: Sat Aug 16, 2008 12:04 am
Location: Anchorage, AK

Re: My Gizmo

Postby Netpackrat » Sat Dec 06, 2014 10:33 am

That's pretty neat, and makes any of my little design/fab projects look lame by comparison. Did you give it a name? Also, don't leave it where the tape fitters' union can access it.
Cognosce teipsum et disce pati

"People come and go in our lives, especially the online ones. Some leave a fond memory, and some a bad taste." -Aesop

User avatar
Yogimus
Active Shooter
Posts: 4922
Joined: Mon Apr 18, 2011 7:32 am
Contact:

Re: My Gizmo

Postby Yogimus » Sat Dec 06, 2014 10:55 am

Next step would be to make a magazine for the rods.

User avatar
JustinR
Trigger Junkie
Posts: 1852
Joined: Tue Aug 19, 2008 3:53 am
Location: DFW Texas, the last free place on earth

Re: My Gizmo

Postby JustinR » Sat Dec 06, 2014 11:18 am

Awesome. The next step would be to remove an integral component, then turn to your boss and say, "about that raise we discussed..."
"The armory was even better. Above the door was a sign: You dream, we build." -Mark Owen, No Easy Day

"My assault weapon won't be 'illegal,' it will be 'undocumented.'" -KL

User avatar
Denis
Good Christ I Need A Life
Posts: 6570
Joined: Fri Aug 22, 2008 6:29 am

Re: My Gizmo

Postby Denis » Sat Dec 06, 2014 12:56 pm

Wow. Just Wow.

I think you should name him "Orac".

User avatar
Darrell
Good Christ I Need A Life
Posts: 6586
Joined: Tue Aug 19, 2008 12:12 am
Location: Colorado

Re: My Gizmo

Postby Darrell » Sat Dec 06, 2014 1:38 pm

Orac??? What does it mean? :lol: A quick look on google revealed "Oxygen radical absorbance capacity", and a surgeon's blog named Respectful Insolence:

Orac is the nom de blog of a humble surgeon/scientist who has an ego just big enough to delude himself that someone, somewhere might actually give a rodent's posterior about his copious verbal meanderings, but just barely small enough to admit to himself that few probably will. That surgeon is otherwise known as David Gorski. That Orac has chosen his nom de blog based on a rather cranky and arrogant computer shaped like a clear box of blinking lights that he originally encountered when he became a fan of a 30 year old British SF television show whose special effects were renowned for their BBC/Doctor Who-style low budget look, but whose stories nonetheless resulted in some of the best, most innovative science fiction ever televised, should tell you nearly all that you need to know about Orac. (That, and the length of the preceding sentence.)


http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/author/oracknows/

That must be it. What is the British sci fi show? :lol: I wanted to put flashing lights on it, but the ET (electronic tech) who helped me with the PLC program didn't want to include them. Per NPR, the leads and I talked about having a naming contest--I suggested Fred. They'll probably just call it "the taper".

Perhaps Orac would be appropriate--the company that makes the bars and the rest of the canvas assembly system is British. We own them, and import the bar components and tape from them. The VP mentioned that assembled bars from the UK are done by hand with prison labor. :lol: Their quality was no better than ours done by hand.

ETA: Ah, the show is Blake's 7. Heard of it, but never saw it. Here's a pic of Orac:

orac1large.jpg


Clever boy, Denis. ;)

ETA2: Perhaps I should call it La Guillotine. :lol: I didn't take any pics of the blade, but it really is a mini guillotine blade, a shade under 1 1/2" wide, angled about 40 degrees. I made it from O2 steel, ground the edge to shape, oil hardened it, then dressed the edge on a diamond stone. I've thought of running a hot dog through the machine to see what it would do. The guards on the top are to keep operators from sticking their fingers in it. The air cylinder is running at about 100 psi, and it fires with great authority. If it didn't remove a finger, it would surely mangle the digit. The blade is sharp enough to shave hair from my arm.
You do not have the required permissions to view the files attached to this post.
Eppur si muove--Galileo

User avatar
Netpackrat
Probably Unemployed
Posts: 12279
Joined: Sat Aug 16, 2008 12:04 am
Location: Anchorage, AK

Re: My Gizmo

Postby Netpackrat » Sat Dec 06, 2014 2:21 pm

Yogimus wrote:Next step would be to make a magazine for the rods.


Probably not a lot of point, if it can only hold 15 at a time. Call it Marvin. Or maybe, the Tape-inator.
Cognosce teipsum et disce pati

"People come and go in our lives, especially the online ones. Some leave a fond memory, and some a bad taste." -Aesop

tfbncc
Loose Cannon
Posts: 788
Joined: Tue Aug 19, 2008 3:00 am
Location: NE Florida

Re: My Gizmo

Postby tfbncc » Sat Dec 06, 2014 4:21 pm

Video! Or it didn't happen...

TheArmsman
Case Shiner
Posts: 464
Joined: Fri Aug 15, 2008 11:59 pm
Location: Tucson, AZ

Re: My Gizmo

Postby TheArmsman » Sat Dec 06, 2014 5:35 pm

Damn, nice tinkering.
When death is inevitable, style counts.

Survival trumps programming.

Precision
Active Shooter
Posts: 4556
Joined: Wed Aug 20, 2008 7:01 pm
Location: Florida

Re: My Gizmo

Postby Precision » Sat Dec 06, 2014 8:52 pm

a quality company would cut you in on the labor savings.

The hospital my mother worked at would cut you in for 10% of the labor savings / material savings. The only downside was they did it as a bonus (40% loss to the tax man).

Then of course some jack ass bean counter saw that as too much "give away" and stopped the practice. Amazingly, the good ideas have mostly dried up.
"Those who hammer their guns into plows will plow for those who do not." ~Thomas Jefferson
My little part of the blogosphere. http://blogletitburn.wordpress.com/

BDK
Trigger Junkie
Posts: 1306
Joined: Sat Jun 21, 2014 12:14 am

Re: My Gizmo

Postby BDK » Sat Dec 06, 2014 9:42 pm

I like that policy. I know I want to structure a profitability incentive somehow - production bonuses drove productivity through the roof.

I'm not sure how well it could apply outside of engineering, but I like it...

User avatar
Darrell
Good Christ I Need A Life
Posts: 6586
Joined: Tue Aug 19, 2008 12:12 am
Location: Colorado

Re: My Gizmo

Postby Darrell » Sat Dec 06, 2014 10:37 pm

Precision wrote:a quality company would cut you in on the labor savings.

The hospital my mother worked at would cut you in for 10% of the labor savings / material savings. The only downside was they did it as a bonus (40% loss to the tax man).

Then of course some jack ass bean counter saw that as too much "give away" and stopped the practice. Amazingly, the good ideas have mostly dried up.

Our corporate owner, a billionaire, visited some months ago and gave a speech to us. He said he wanted One Thousand Ideas. Well, there's one. :roll: I make product and process suggestions all the time. None of it goes anywhere. Not Invented Here runs the show.
Eppur si muove--Galileo

User avatar
Kommander
Active Shooter
Posts: 3743
Joined: Wed Aug 13, 2008 11:13 am

Re: My Gizmo

Postby Kommander » Sat Dec 06, 2014 11:59 pm

Why didn't you develop this independent of the company and then sell it, or at least the idea, to them?

User avatar
Darrell
Good Christ I Need A Life
Posts: 6586
Joined: Tue Aug 19, 2008 12:12 am
Location: Colorado

Re: My Gizmo

Postby Darrell » Sun Dec 07, 2014 12:43 am

Kommander wrote:Why didn't you develop this independent of the company and then sell it, or at least the idea, to them?

I was approached by the department's leads with the request for something to do the job. It was done on company time, with company materials, using the company's machine tools and such. I did spend quite a few sleepless nights building it in my head, resolving design considerations, etc.
Eppur si muove--Galileo

User avatar
Kommander
Active Shooter
Posts: 3743
Joined: Wed Aug 13, 2008 11:13 am

Re: My Gizmo

Postby Kommander » Sun Dec 07, 2014 2:38 am

Ok, I understand that. They have then essentially already paid you for making the machine. Perhaps if there is demand for such they can set up another department or the lake making ans dealing these things, with you at the head, with the proper bump in pay.

User avatar
Yogimus
Active Shooter
Posts: 4922
Joined: Mon Apr 18, 2011 7:32 am
Contact:

Re: My Gizmo

Postby Yogimus » Sun Dec 07, 2014 2:40 am

The machine is free. The maintenance? That's gonna cost extra.

User avatar
Darrell
Good Christ I Need A Life
Posts: 6586
Joined: Tue Aug 19, 2008 12:12 am
Location: Colorado

Re: My Gizmo

Postby Darrell » Sun Dec 07, 2014 4:13 am

Kommander wrote:Ok, I understand that. They have then essentially already paid you for making the machine. Perhaps if there is demand for such they can set up another department or the lake making ans dealing these things, with you at the head, with the proper bump in pay.

Well, as I've told my boss, I am not a hammer jockey. I've done such things many times. That and fifty cents will buy me a cup of coffee. We're running very lean (we had another 3% RIF recently), the company won't create another department. I wouldn't want the hassle of being in management at any rate.

I don't get to do design and fabrication as much as I used to. It's probably the favorite part of my job.
Eppur si muove--Galileo

User avatar
McClarkus
Loose Cannon
Posts: 795
Joined: Tue May 12, 2009 11:50 pm
Location: Colorado

Re: My Gizmo

Postby McClarkus » Sun Dec 07, 2014 4:26 am

Kudos, bravo, chin up and chest out with all that. Well done. I would hope you have solidified a retirement with them. Best wishes for your future advancement. Regards from your southern shootin range..... :D :)
One secret to life. Step #1 - Find something you enjoy doing. Step #2 - Find someone foolish enough to pay you to do it.

User avatar
Netpackrat
Probably Unemployed
Posts: 12279
Joined: Sat Aug 16, 2008 12:04 am
Location: Anchorage, AK

Re: My Gizmo

Postby Netpackrat » Sun Dec 07, 2014 5:19 am

Yogimus wrote:The machine is free. The maintenance? That's gonna cost extra.


This. Document sparingly.
Cognosce teipsum et disce pati

"People come and go in our lives, especially the online ones. Some leave a fond memory, and some a bad taste." -Aesop

User avatar
HTRN
Probably Unemployed
Posts: 10758
Joined: Wed Aug 20, 2008 4:05 am
Location: Under your bed with a knife
Contact:

Re: My Gizmo

Postby HTRN » Sun Dec 07, 2014 8:02 am

Darrell, You said you did this in your spare time, correct? Did the Company pay for any of the materials? If not, YOU own the machine, and not just the physical, the IP as well, assuming you didn't sign one of those more ridiculous contracts that state the company owns everything you dream up during your period of employment.

If you're company is going to make money on this, so should you. If not, contact an attorney.
EGO partum , proinde EGO sum

Describing what HTRN does as "antics" is like describing the wreck of the Titanic as "a minor boating incident" ~ First Shirt

Interdum feror cupidine partium magnarum Europae vincendarum

User avatar
Darrell
Good Christ I Need A Life
Posts: 6586
Joined: Tue Aug 19, 2008 12:12 am
Location: Colorado

Re: My Gizmo

Postby Darrell » Sun Dec 07, 2014 12:32 pm

HTRN wrote:Darrell, You said you did this in your spare time, correct? Did the Company pay for any of the materials? If not, YOU own the machine, and not just the physical, the IP as well, assuming you didn't sign one of those more ridiculous contracts that state the company owns everything you dream up during your period of employment.

If you're company is going to make money on this, so should you. If not, contact an attorney.

I did it in my spare time at work, over the course of several months. And yes, I used company materials in the build.
Eppur si muove--Galileo

User avatar
HTRN
Probably Unemployed
Posts: 10758
Joined: Wed Aug 20, 2008 4:05 am
Location: Under your bed with a knife
Contact:

Re: My Gizmo

Postby HTRN » Sun Dec 07, 2014 11:20 pm

I would still be looking for a payday. If they make money, so should you.
EGO partum , proinde EGO sum

Describing what HTRN does as "antics" is like describing the wreck of the Titanic as "a minor boating incident" ~ First Shirt

Interdum feror cupidine partium magnarum Europae vincendarum

User avatar
Darrell
Good Christ I Need A Life
Posts: 6586
Joined: Tue Aug 19, 2008 12:12 am
Location: Colorado

Re: My Gizmo

Postby Darrell » Mon Dec 08, 2014 2:50 am

HTRN wrote:I would still be looking for a payday. If they make money, so should you.

Hey, them executive bonuses ain't gonna pay themselves... :P
Eppur si muove--Galileo

rightisright
Active Shooter
Posts: 4258
Joined: Mon Aug 18, 2008 10:41 pm
Location: NJ

Re: My Gizmo

Postby rightisright » Mon Dec 08, 2014 4:20 pm

Good stuff!

User avatar
First Shirt
Active Shooter
Posts: 4334
Joined: Tue Aug 19, 2008 12:32 am
Location: Sweet Home Alabama

Re: My Gizmo

Postby First Shirt » Tue Dec 09, 2014 4:30 am

With this on your resume, I know a company that would LOVE to talk to you! Doesn't have a place in Colorado, but has mills in Utah and Arizona, as well as a number of places down south.

Just in case you were wondering...
But there ain't many troubles that a man caint fix, with seven hundred dollars and a thirty ought six."
Lindy Cooper Wisdom

User avatar
Yogimus
Active Shooter
Posts: 4922
Joined: Mon Apr 18, 2011 7:32 am
Contact:

Re: My Gizmo

Postby Yogimus » Tue Dec 09, 2014 4:33 am

does that tape HAVE to be a continuous piece, or can it be taped on in 3 separate strips

User avatar
Yogimus
Active Shooter
Posts: 4922
Joined: Mon Apr 18, 2011 7:32 am
Contact:

Re: My Gizmo

Postby Yogimus » Tue Dec 09, 2014 5:36 am

Create a 3 step process that can be automated as opposed to a half manual 1 step process

User avatar
Lokidude
On a list somewhere
Posts: 2159
Joined: Tue Aug 19, 2008 3:49 am
Location: West Valley, UT
Contact:

Re: My Gizmo

Postby Lokidude » Thu Dec 11, 2014 2:08 am

First Shirt wrote:With this on your resume, I know a company that would LOVE to talk to you! Doesn't have a place in Colorado, but has mills in Utah and Arizona, as well as a number of places down south.

Just in case you were wondering...


Does it start with a G? Or maybe an R?
workinwifdakids wrote:We've thus far avoided the temptation to jack an entire forum.

But what the hell.


Standing for Truth, Justice, and the American Way!

User avatar
Darrell
Good Christ I Need A Life
Posts: 6586
Joined: Tue Aug 19, 2008 12:12 am
Location: Colorado

Re: My Gizmo

Postby Darrell » Thu Dec 18, 2014 5:12 am

An update--the gizmo is getting an acid test. An order for 4,500+ sets came through, at four bars per set that's 18,000+ bars. They want them done by Sunday. :roll: Evidently it's a commercial job. The machine will outproduce any three people doing it by hand, but even so, they have a bunch of people doing it the old fashioned way, on top of the machine's output, just to try to hit the deadline. It's crazy. I went back to our shop and found the first thing I'd built, a simple sort of jig, made of maple die board. It holds the roll of tape at one end, paying out the tape face up, with a channel for the tape to be drawn out, and the bar laid in place atop it. When I showed it to the leads back at the beginning of the project, they didn't like it, wanting something electric with bells and whistles, hence the gizmo. Turns out the jig works well all by itself, still faster and better quality than doing it purely by hand. It would be easy enough to knock out several of the jigs on our table/die saw, and assemble them with epoxy. I suspect I'm going to be building several additional machines in 2015. I've already made mental notes on improvements to any Mk II version.

In other news, OSHA has paid us a visit, and will again in the near future. Turns out a seasonal employee, a temp hired for our holiday busy season, didn't like our sandblasting area, and contacted the Feds. We have two sandblast cabinets, running aluminum oxide and silicon carbide, used in etching/engraving of glass, ceramics and such. It is an inherently messy process, and since I left the area when the Angry Lesbian and I butted heads a year and a half ago, the equipment hasn't been kept in good order. Exposure to the abrasives and dust generated in the process is bad news health-wise (think silicosis). The operators do wear respirators when using the sandblasting equipment, but the kid in question got a hard on over the process, cleanliness and such. Management is wetting their pants over OSHA's visits and what might happen. Of all the mechs we had or still have, guess who's the only one with any experience servicing the equipment? ;)
Eppur si muove--Galileo

User avatar
First Shirt
Active Shooter
Posts: 4334
Joined: Tue Aug 19, 2008 12:32 am
Location: Sweet Home Alabama

Re: My Gizmo

Postby First Shirt » Sat Dec 20, 2014 2:24 pm

BDK wrote:I like that policy. I know I want to structure a profitability incentive somehow - production bonuses drove productivity through the roof.
I'm not sure how well it could apply outside of engineering, but I like it...


My company works on a "pay-for-production" basis. For example, we base a 100% bonus on your crew producing 1900 tons of prime, to-order steel during a 12-hour shift. So if your base rate is $15.00/hour, and your crews (day shift and night shift production is averaged, to keep one crew from screwing the other one) runs 7600 tons in a 24-hour shift, your hourly rate is $15.00 + 200% bonus = $45.00/hour. Our six-month average is 187%.

Not sure how that would work in an engineering environment, but it seems to work well for us.
But there ain't many troubles that a man caint fix, with seven hundred dollars and a thirty ought six."
Lindy Cooper Wisdom


Return to “Tech Talk”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 3 guests