Modular Working for NASA Ames
At the September 2014 IMTS show, Emmett Quigley, the Manager of the Airborne Instrument Development Lab at NASA Ames Research Center, was looking for a modular workholding system that would help him to quickly change over the fixturing on his table to meet the lab's demands of rapid prototyping and development.
Demanding design requirements for future development
Quigley had several initial requirements:
Emmett looked at a couple of systems but post IMTS only mPower had followed up with the information he needed to start the design. He found that the Modern Industries mPower modular tombstones and fixturing systems would meet his needs, but would need some customization to truly get the maximum use of his machines table space and travels. The mPower system was to be implemented on two machines to begin with. The first would be the labs workhorse, a Deckel MAHO DMU70V. The next machine would be a Deckel Maho MH600C Universal Milling Machine. The MAHO is unique in that it has both a horizontal and vertical spindle as well as a full fourth axis capability.
After several email exchanges and design discussions with regional manager Chris Savolainen and Ron Bemis, the Application Engineer at Modern Industries the team spent from from October 15th through 17th reviewing the various part shapes and size requirements to define the subplate hole locations that would provide the very best versatility to meet the needs of the lab.
It was decided to go with 2" x 2", 1/2 -13 bolt hole pattern in 1.5 “ thick aluminum plates. However they needed to modify the DMU plate by adding the through hole so they can reach the table with their tool setter. Quigley then need to duplicate the plates in steel.
The final requirement was that the lab needed to have the locating/clamping features below the surface as these plates will need to be surfaced from time to time.
Due to budget constraints the system had to be developed with consideration for the longer term lab requirements so that it could eventually expand for upcoming new projects. Preparing for the unknown problem has always been part of the mission at NASA so long term contingency planning is the norm.
In June of 2015, phase one of the project was implemented on the Deckel Maho DMU70V machine.
Quigley's thoughts on the implementation thus far:
According to Savolainen "NASA's Airborne Instrument Development Lab at Ames really considers both current needs and future needs when they look at workholding systems. The machines and equipment have to be versatile enough to handle current projects but also new research projects that might not even exist until 10 or 15 years from now. They really put a great deal of thought into products before they get them and it's actually a real pleasure to work with engineers who plan and think so far into the future!"
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