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Die Driver Project
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The local sheet metal manufacturer, Jensen MetalTech, uses a press brake as one of its many metal-forming tools. To produce various shapes, punches and dies must be swapped into and out of the press brake repeatedly. Unfortunately, the tool-swapping process at Jensen MetalTech was inefficient and dangerous. This was due to the size and weight of the tools, as well as the method used for storing them. Some of the heavier punches and dies weigh up to 300 pounds, and are up to six feet long. This combination of weight and size creates a lifting risk. In addition, these tools were stored in various orientations and at different heights. This compounded the problem of lifting the tools, since the tools had to be reoriented and lifted to the proper height to be used in the press brake. Team Die Driver was tasked with creating a system for minimizing the risks involved in this process. The final Die Driver system can be seen in this figure. It consists of a rack and a positioner that have a common interface so that the tools can be moved from the racks to the positioner very easily. It has friction reduction elements that hold the punch and die at the same orientation and height as they are used in the press brake. This allows the tools to slide back and forth easily. This design was mainly created in SolidoWorks with commercial off-the-shelf component purchased to complete the system and Finite Element Analysis was used to determine the integrity of the design. In addition, hand calculations proved the system to be sturdy and resist deflection from assumed loaded forces. This project was an overall success, as the press brake operation process was made safer and more efficient by the Die Driver system. The operator can now slide the larger tools from storage to the positioner without bearing the heaving lifting on his or her person. Because the project was an over-the-wall engineering scenario, there were some issues with the fabrication process, as well as the alignment of friction reduction elements. However, lessons were learned considering cost, Solidworks drawings and designing for manufacturing and assembly for the team. Ultimately, the system was deemed a successful prototype and will soon be in daily use at Jensen MetalTech. Honors Program: As a result of one of the team members joining in the honors program, an additional presentation of the Die Driver system was presented to the Honors Program staff. Supplementary effort was applied to verify the integrity of the project, as well as its presentation to audiences outside of the engineering field.