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Student Design Protects Machining Equipment at Penn College

Molds for covers protecting the working surfaces on milling machines used in the Pennsylvania College of Technology%E2%80%99s Machining Technologies Center were designed and produced by machine tool technology graduate Kevin M. Young, of Lewistown%3B the parts were thermoformed by plastics and polymer engineering technology student Andrew W. Sneeringer, of Erie.Pennsylvania College of Technology students from two academic areas were collaborators in providing covers to protect working surfaces on milling machines in the college’s Machining Technologies Center.

The covers, thermoformed from one-eighth inch ABS (acrylonitrile butadiene styrene) plastic sheets, keep metal chip shavings off the slotted and difficult to clean milling machine bed while it is in use, allowing students to simply remove the cover and dump the shavings into recycling containers. The covers also provide a flat surface for students to lay drill bits and other tools without marring the machine.

The college purchased a few covers from a vendor, but they were flimsy and didn’t fit well, explained Howard W. Troup, maintenance mechanic and millwright for the college’s School of Industrial and Engineering Technologies. And, at around $30 apiece, purchasing two covers for each of the college’s 28 milling machines would have been an expensive prospect.

Troup employed the assistance of student Kevin M. Young, of Lewistown, who has since graduated with a degree in machine tool technology, to design a better-fitting mill cover. Young worked with Troup to determine specifications, then designed and fabricated a mold that could be used to produce the covers using plastic material left over from a prior project in the college’s thermoforming lab.

Included in Young’s mold is a reversible “PCT” insert, so that covers on both the left and right side of the machine bed can bear the college’s initials but be made from the same mold. Young’s design also incorporated holes needed for airflow in the thermoforming process.

In the thermoforming lab, plastics and polymer engineering technology student Andrew W. Sneeringer, of Erie, volunteered some of his time to produce the covers. In return, Sneeringer gained experience programming a new process for the college’s thermoformer. The experience also helped Sneeringer with his senior project.

All bachelor-degree students in Penn College’s School of Industrial and Engineering Technologies are required complete a senior project. Sneeringer is testing various materials used to make thermoforming molds, seeking to demonstrate that medium-density fiberboard is not the best mold material and that epoxy molds are more durable and less expensive.

In thermoforming, thin sheets of plastic are heated and then stretched over a mold using a vacuum. Thermoforming is used in such applications as car dash pads and car door panels, as well as in producing plastic packaging.

To learn more about automated manufacturing, manufacturing engineering technology or other academic programs offered by the school of Industrial and Engineering Technologies at Penn College, call 570-327-4520 or visit online .

For more information about the college, visit on the Web , email or call toll-free 800-367-9222.

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