In this video, explore the machine shop at LACI and learn about how the various machines are used to create innovative designs and product prototypes.
- Right now we're in the LACI machine shop. It's one of many of their labs that they offer here to their portfolio companies and with me is Andrew. And Andrew's going to help give us a tour of this facility and we'll explain that it's a mostly materials, a plastic and, of course, you can do some secondary composite work here. So Andrew thanks for joining in the letting us film inside here. So where do we get started? - So this is a prototyping machine shop.
Typically if you want to put something in a mill or a lathe you want to cut it down from a big piece to a smaller piece which is why you have a material handling area. Here we have a vertical bandsaw which is having a class right now. We have a horizontal bandsaw and a cold saw. - And so after you've already cut, prepped, and, of course, you've already chosen your material then we go to what normally? What would you see us going to? With say we got a metal. - Yeah.
- We would go to what next? - It depends on the component design. Typically you would want to go on either the CNC mill or the manual mill. - Let's go check out the manual mill. - Sure. - I can see how you use that. - So here we have a manual mill. You have a piece of metal that was cut in the material handling center. You want to do more intricate cuts on the piece of metal to get your actual prototype. - You're going to fire this up and we're going to-- - Sure.
(mill beeping) (mill whirring) (lever clicking) (gas hissing) - So it's not just manual. This is part CNC as well. - Yeah. - So I mean is it just a z that you control the z as well or? What's manual about it? - It's considered a hybrid manual and CNC.
The CNC capabilities is considered two axis only so that it's automated in x and y plane. With the z you have to manually drop down what's called the n-mill into the metal. - Okay and so when we're done here if I wanted to do something a little bit more complex and more advanced you'd go to the CNC? - [Andrew] We'd go to the three axis in CNC. - Okay. - We'll have an additional axis. - Alright well cool. We'll go ahead (machine grinding) and we'll wrap this and we'll go check that out. (machine grinding) (air hissing) I see you've taken us to your CNC machine.
When is it an appropriate time for us to go from the manual machine to here? - So if the complexity of the component you're designing exceeds the capabilities of the manual mill you might want to look at a three axis CNC machine such as this one. It's a Haas Mini Mill. - And every machine kind of needs this kind of first steps. What would be the first thing we'd want to do here? Like what do we always do whether it's plastic or metal what would you do? - So not only do you need to learn the machine you also need to learn how to CAD.
Design the component on a computer and then you do something called CAM computer aided machining. So what that does is you tell the machine how to move around and cut the metal. - And for the setup we need to we need to set it up or? How does it know what to do? - So when you install what's called G-code, it's the code that the machine interprets to move around, you need to zero the spindle off of the work piece. And what this fancy machine can do that which other manual mills cannot do is it uses something called a wireless probe.
So instead of using an edge finder, which is cumbersome, it transmits an infrared signal to an internal sensor and you could determine the x zero and y zero coordinates so that you could quickly get to cutting instead of spending all your time setting up. - Wow thank you. Is it alright if we go check out your printing lab? - Sure nice. - Okay thanks. (mill beeping) So we have some kind of lathe here? - Yeah so this is a fancy lathe ideal for prototyping.
It can be used as both a manual lathe and has CNC capabilities. - [Scott] And so walk us through this. So what are the types of things that this would be best suited for? - So if a component's design is cylindrical in nature meaning if it's a thread or it requires a taper and tight sealing is involved you're going to want to use a lathe. - Okay what do you have already hooked up in there? - So here we have a demonstration cut showing the two types of capabilities ideal for a lathe which is a taper, which is this part, and a thread.
So if you want to make a very custom bolt or a fitting. - And so unlike the other machines that we saw where the cutter is actually spinning the part's actually spinning instead and that's what's cutting. - That's correct. So the chuck holds the part. It spins the material at a high speed and you introduce what's called a cutting bit, essentially. And you introduce it and you create chips that way. - And that just sits right in there or? - Yeah. (part clinking) - Straight forward.
That's great can we check out some of your other stuff? - Sure. - Alright. - This is great. I see you've given us a little taste of samples of just about everything that you covered here today. So I see there's it looks like there's two different SLA parts here. Can you describe the difference between this type of 3D printing and this type of 3D printing? - Sure. So this is FDM components and these are SLA components.
We have four 3D printers three of which are FDM. If your component requires a higher fidelity we'd recommend going for SLA. - [Scott] I see you chose to make parts that actually have function in 'em so this is pretty interesting. So this is great. Last time I was playing with it I couldn't get it to move and now I can get it to move so (chuckling). But yeah we got some functionality. It looks like different types of functionality where this one has a bit of-- - Finesse.
- [Scott] It's a little bit more finesse, yeah. And it's less tolerancing. I see you made a functional model here as well. It feels good. It feels like so you're saying this is tighter tolerance and this is for looser tolerances? - Yeah. - Well I see you got a few things here with the laser. You may have different types of metal and fidelities. Take us through this a little bit and how this works. - So our laser cutters are very high accuracy positioning and they can produce very intricate engravings.
They can also remove material. This is an example of a stamp function where it accurately removes, in the z dimension, and leaves behind text here so you can use this as a stamp. Put it in ink. - And this is metal and so is it the same machine or? - Yeah. - Anything you do different? - This is the same machine. Our lasers can engrave metal provided you put on something called Kapton tape. When a laser lasers over Kapton tape it sears the Kapton into the metal and leaves a nice dark finish on the metal.
- And my favorite part is you have this big water jet machine here and it's pretty cool to see that water can actually cut metal and make parts like this. And you just cut this piece of steel for us. Can you take us through this-- - Sure. - And explain to everybody how this actually works? - So I guess this is just a square but our design is introduced via DXF format onto the computer and then we tell the computer to follow the line either outside or inside.
The water jet is essentially a giant water pump inside of a cabinet. It produced 55,000 psi and at the very last moment before exiting the nozzle this special stone called garnet is introduced so they mix together in a slurry and this high powered slurry just cuts through the metal. - This sandy looking stuff here? - Yeah. - Yeah that's pretty cool. So that makes it abrasive and that allows us to cut.
That's what's actually cutting the metal is the slurry. - [Andrew] Yeah that's correct. - That's really neat. So just a little taste of the sampling of some of the types of things they might do with a few of these machines. They have an offering that you can use the shop facilities for a subscription base open to the public and they also do a model where they support some companies that are portfolio companies here and we're going to head over here and check out one of the companies actually in the shop right now working on a project live.
- How designers find prototyping options
- Innovation and ideas in design
- Exploring a lab for prototyping and manufacturing
- Practical application of a robotics prototype
- Touring the labs at a prototyping facility
- Basics of prototyping a new product
- Reviewing the manufacturing process