Too long. It’s been too long since I last wrote on this blog, but sometimes regular work just has to been done first. In this past instance it was one longer design project and an extensive series of equipment and tool upgrades. The design project was a piece of lab equipment for Dr. Jinsook Roh, a neuroscientist at Temple University. Here’s a quick look at the whole thing. There are some detail photos later on.

Photoshopped best top view

Calculations. It was a fun project. There were mechanical engineering calculations — beam deflection, disk brake design, slipping and tipping, screw force. Nothing terribly esoteric, but nevertheless very satisfying. I also was able to use a variety of machines and tooling. Just for fun, I decided to make a list of what I used.

Machines. For machines and more involved tooling:

  • manual mill
  • CNC mill
  • drill press
  • lathe
  • horizontal band saw
  • carbide cutoff saw
  • tool grinder
  • universal cutter grinder
  • bench shears
  • bench punch
  • bender
  • boring head
  • auto-reversing tapping head
  • CNC touch probe
  • 3D-taster

Tooling, software, materials, and pieces. This is in addition to numerous milling cutters, drill bits, taps, edge finders, vises, parallels, measuring  and hand tools. And then there’s software — I count eight different pieces of software that I used for CAD, CAM, and engineering calculations.

It seems like a lot, but there were a lot of pieces, and multiple materials — aluminum plate, aluminum extrusion, low-carbon steel plate, low-carbon steel sheet, some hardened steel pieces to be modified, acetal, UHMWPE, and PVC. Here are some of the small pieces:


Which brings us back, briefly, to a question that I raised last time, “why that machining job might cost more than you expect.” Even for this project, which required only ordinary precision and did not involve esoteric materials, a rather stunning collection of machines, tooling, and software was needed. All these things cost money to purchase and maintain, which is reflected in the cost of a machining job.

Details. Here are a few details that I thought came out well:


Brake w_ safety pin


Arm support close up