WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. — Jake C. Beatty volunteered for the class project because it sounded “cool.” Turns out he was right.
The result was an invaluable experience for the manufacturing student at the Pennsylvania College of Technology and will benefit those who follow his path.
Beatty, of Grove City, designed a vacuum mold that – with the help of a tooling company and Penn College’s plastics department – resulted in the manufacture of protective bed covers for milling machines used for practical instruction in the college’s Larry A. Ward. Machining Technology Center.
“I am very grateful for this opportunity. I learned a lot. It definitely helped me further my education,” said Beatty, who is due to graduate in December with associate degrees in automated manufacturing technology.https://www.pct.edu/academics/et/automated-manufacturing-machining/automated-manufacturing-technology>; and machine tool technologyhttps://www.pct.edu/academics/et/automated-manufacturing-machining/machine-tool-technology>;.
Automated Manufacturing and Machining Instructor Howard W. Troup designed the project for his Fixture Design and Manufacturing class with two goals in mind: to provide a real opportunity for student growth and potentially avoid college to order $1,500 worth of prefabricated products. bedspreads.
Plastic flat covers protect milling machine T-slot beds from abrasions and collect chips, shavings and other debris as the vertical tool cuts through metal. The existing bedspreads did not fit the 27 TRAK milling machines purchased over the past few years from TRAK Machine Tools, a Corporate Tomorrow Makerhttps://www.pct.edu/corporate>; college partner.
“I wasn’t surprised that Jake volunteered for the project, and I had absolute confidence that he would do well,” Troup said. “I was impressed with his determination and willingness to do whatever it took to make a good finished product.”
Beatty demonstrated such qualities long after earning an “A” for the project and the class.
The Dean’s List student spent weeks in the lab using Autodesk Inventor and AutoCAD – computer-aided design and drafting software applications – to create a bed cover mold that could be 3D printed and used for forming under a vacuum. The common process for manufacturing plastics requires that a thermoplastic sheet be heated until it is bendable and then shaped – using a vacuum – into the shape of a mould. Once cooled, the part is ejected from the mold and cut to size.
New to mold design, Beatty consulted with Christopher J. Gagliano, project manager for Penn College’s Plastics Innovation & Resource Center, and Jack Stafford, senior project manager and member of business development for Catalysis Additive Tooling, a leader in 3D printed tooling technology. The Ohio-based company agreed to 3D print Beatty’s mold design at no cost to the college, thanks to an established relationship with Gagliano and the PIRC.
“I was emailing questions once or twice a week and sending out design reviews of my model to see if they thought there would be any issues with the manufacturing process, because I don’t had no idea what it was,” Beatty recalled. “They were great to work with, super helpful and very generous.”
Gagliano and plastics and polymer technology professor Kirk M. Cantor, along with a few students, used the college’s MAAC Machinery single-station thermoformer to produce samples from the mold, which included a “PCT” insert to put highlighting the initials of the college.
The result was more than acceptable. The lesson was over. The objectives of the project have been achieved. But Beatty was not satisfied.
“The first mold I designed didn’t have enough draft on the vertical surfaces to release the part from the mold when it cooled. This put excessive pressure on the mold and ended up causing small mold features to break,” he explained.
Beatty’s quest for perfection continued in his spare time the following semester. The decision to do so was easy. The demanding nature of machining first attracted him to the field.
Since high school, Beatty has worked part-time in a welding shop in the Grove City area, moving from sweeping floors to welding and machining. Penn College’s associate’s degree in metal fabrication technology appealed to him because it combines both sets of skills. But after a year, machining won out, and Beatty turned to automated manufacturing technology and machine tool technology.
“Machining gives me more peace of mind,” he said. “I have a feeling that a part has to meet certain specifications. And if it doesn’t, the part is bad. There’s no questioning whether it’s good or bad. In the machining, I don’t have to give a part to a customer and say, ‘I hope it fits.’ I can be like, ‘This part will fit.’
After weeks of meticulous revisions, Beatty felt such certainty with his bedspread design since it incorporated 8 degrees of draft on all vertical surfaces, eliminating excessive pressure on the mold. He sent the new design to Catalysis Additive Tooling, requesting a second mold to be 3D printed to reflect his changes.
The company agreed, and a few months later Beatty’s New Penn College Plastic Connections used the mold to make 26 of the one-inch-thick black bedspreads. Each measuring 22.1 by 10.7 inches, two covers are needed per milling machine. Additional blankets will be made as weather permits in the coming weeks.
“It was so cool to see what I saw on my computer screen for so long being used to make real parts,” Beatty said. “Working with the plastics department and Catalysis Additive Tooling has been a source of confidence and a great learning experience, not only when it comes to mold design and fabrication, but also communicating in a professional environment.”
“I’m very proud of Jake. He went above and beyond for his project,” Troup said. “He has benefited from the experience and the machining laboratory will benefit from the result. We should be able to use the bedspreads for decades.
Beatty credits the project and his hands-on training under teachers with real-world experience with helping him secure a full-time position before graduation. Starting in January, he will design and manufacture diesel engine components for a Crawford County company.
Just like his project, it sounds “cool”.
For more information on Penn College’s manufacturing-related degrees and other majors offered by the School of Engineering Technologies, visit www.pct.edu/et;http://www.pct.edu/et>; or call 570-327-4520.