Date of Award
Since 1883, Hope Global has been manufacturing and supplying various high quality and durable textiles to businesses and industries around the globe. Their most demanded product is the beaded profile which is used primarily in interior seat linings of trucks.  These are produced across four production lines and involves a 1000W laser cutter on each. In these laser cutters are configurations of aluminum blades that act as supports for the profiles running underneath the laser. When the laser makes its automated cuts, the polypropylene plastic of the beaded profile gets melted on to the blades. Over the course of continuous cutting, the melted plastic builds up these blades and becomes a problem. The current cleaning process of these blades involves the machine operator opening the laser cutter door which stops the laser from cutting. However, the profile is still fed through the line at 80 ft/min creating scrap. The time it takes the operator to clean each blade takes about two minutes per production line. The blades are usually cleaned two or three times per hour during a 21-hour work day, which, across four separate lines, creates huge amounts of scrap throughout the day. This immense amount of scrap causes significant material loss for Hope Global which means significant money lost. The scope of this project is to reduce the clean time of these blades as much as possible to reduce the scrap produced. Throughout the course of this semester, a design was formulated to help Hope Global with this problem. Extensive research was performed to generate ideas and explore similar design concepts and ideas. This search was two-fold; firstly, a scholarly literature search was performed, then a patent search. Unfortunately, because the laser cutter machine is custom built to fit Hope Global’s needs, there are no similar designs on the market today. Therefore, a bank of concepts was generated among group members and analyzed until a design concept was chosen for the foundation and continuation of the project. This concept was reviewed while considering the design specifications laid out later in this report, and continuously improved upon. After review, the design was constructed and proven to work in physical form. This provided evidence for an integral step in the design process, the proof of concept. After proving the basic design worked effectively, the process of optimizing the design began.
Over the course of the Spring semester, the team prototyped and tested its proof of concept repeatedly. After numerous tests, it was determined a scraper design was more effective than a brush design. For the remainder of this semester, this scraper idea was applied to the prototype and optimized into the final product of the project. The design was proven to work very effectively and efficiently and was easy enough to operate by the machine operators to deem it as a viable and usable way to clean aluminum blade sin the laser cutter. Overall, the team’s work on this project was successful in completing the main objective from the beginning of the year.
O'Neill, Ryan; Rix, Brendan; Miller, Alec; and Fahmy, Sherif, "Hope Global -- In Process Laser Cutter Blade Cleaning" (2019). Mechanical Engineering Capstone Design Projects. Paper 65.