Saturday, July 25, 2009

How I Got Myself Into This Mess

Lately, I'm feeling the effect of aging working against... Soldering differed due blurry vision, workshop progress halted as my back ache...

Without much to do, I stared at the monitor and decided to retrace how I get myself into this mess.

I started in metalworking,
I learn welding and machining in my polytechnics days.
Woodworking is a hobby.
Electrical came naturally.
Fabrication is a big part of my day job.
My engineering skill grew through work and play...
Self-thought practical electronics to fill in the blank.
Analytical skill & experience are symbiotic...

Discounting those dismembering alarm clock events and bicycle repairs, the first "serious" machine I built was in my polytechnics days.

Its a stepper motor driven X-Y table carrying a high speed spindle. We build the X-Y table with Acme-lead screw and linear-bearing running on surface hardened guide rails.

My part in the project is the Linear Motion portion of the project, i.e. X-Y table, the motor & the spindle. The challenges were to design and build a light and rigid X-Y table which carries a high speed spindle, this table will transverse accurately to the stepper motor rotation.

The designing was easy, we were given the required leadscrew pitch, x and y treavels, estimated loads and the desired tolerance/accuracy. Throw all these info in salad bowl and came out with a set of CAD drawings of the "ingenious" design. Even tried to model a finite element analysis but not complete due to time constrain.

As ball-screw was expensive then as now, we opt for to machine ACME screws in the workshop & the Anti-Backlash nut and holding blocks while were at it.

After gathering all the part, shower after shower of welding spatter and flying grinding sparks, we got everything assembled. The hardest part was to align and tune the finished assembly. I can still remember how much easily metal flex under load and the agony of getting everything line-up precisely... Till this day, I'm still puzzled how we pulled off the project in such short time... Nevertheless, that was great fun and my inauguration into machine building.

Maybe I should re-kinder with CNC machine for old time sake...

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