Tuesday, April 17, 2012
The overall lesson I learned from ME250 was that what you create in the ideal world of SolidWorks could not be replicated into the real world without some error. With that said, we assumed that the design and manufacturing process would take up most of our time but in fact, the assembly process was the most time consuming. Indeed, it took roughly 20 minutes to put the car together; however, we would have to do this multiple times since we would encounter a new problem each time and would need to accommodate for it. Unfortunately, fixing one problem would open a Pandora’s box of other problems and given our severe time constraints, we were extremely stressed out but our only option was to continue to plow onwards. Nevertheless, back to the initial stages of the process, the design process was by far the most critical to influencing the manufacturing and assembling processes. For instance, we started to machine before SolidWorks was finalized since we felt that we needed to start immediately. However, looking back now, we definitely should have waited until we completed the entire file since we could not easily apply changes to the design after having parts already machined. Furthermore, once we were well into the manufacturing process, I learned that patience is key the hard and painful way: having to accommodate for the accumulating errors by revisiting already machined parts and wasting valuable time. In addition, in the real world, parts are not the exact dimensions they say they are, which led to wasting even more time by having to ream, sand or mill parts we thought were finalized. Since there was a lack of time, we realized quickly that organization and team management would decide whether or not we would be able to complete the machine. Using our CTools page, we made weekly (and as we got closer to the end, daily) lists of things that needed to be done, which saved us substantial time and allowed us to use our machine shop time more effectively. Once again, the reoccurring theme of patience comes into play again because teams are diverse in nature and need time to mesh, and ours was no exception. We definitely had different kinds of members in the group (director, 2 analyzers and a supporter) and needed to meet outside of class time to discuss the next step forward before going into the shop. Once we were on the same page, the most stressful days towards the end happened to be the most efficient. On a different note, the course was well designed; however, what had us struggling the most was bridging the design process to the manufacturing process. To be honest, I did not really understand the lathe’s and mill’s full capabilities for nearly two weeks in the shop. One way of fixing this would be to expose students to the shop earlier so that they can understand what is the most reasonable way to design the car such that the manufacturing process would be simplified. For instance, we maximized our dimensions without realizing that it was a hassle to drill screw holes in the sides of a 12” by 13” acrylic plate. Of course we happened to learn that the hard way. In the end, it seems that learning something the hard way is a great method of permanently remembering what not to do for the next project.