Summertime at ShopBot; something about this time of year makes you want to get away from the desk and the office and get out into the shop to build something new. In the afternoons the loading dock door will be left open and the cool air pushed in by late thunderstorms rolls through the shop to revive you from your humidity induced torpor as music echoes from the benches where the summer interns are working. The arrival of interns for the summer is always energizing as they bring new ideas and enthusiasm for projects that hit road blocks during the spring.
Two of our interns this year are returning after productive summers last year. David Preiss, just graduated from McGill in Montreal, spent last summer designing the new v-neck front for Handibot 1.1 and the popular Handibot Hood accessory. Benny Rapp, who is attending Union in New York, worked last year to design a pick and place robot with the goal of automating material handling for sheet goods on our tools.
This year they’re working together on a number of projects as part of the Handibot team. Their first task was to realize an improved dust collection system for the Handibot; something we’ve been batting around the office for months but never quite solved. Benny and David quickly created a series of prototypes based around a new concept for a dust foot. Some prototypes survived testing, others weren’t so lucky; but each design improved upon the last and some very interesting and effective ideas resulted.
Benny and David also worked to finish a long term project designing a manual indexing jig for 3+1 (4-axis) work. Soon after picking up work on this project they realized that the 4 axis indexing jig could be easily turned into a 5-axis jig with the addition of a few extra parts and a lot of design work to increase the rigidity of the assembly. As I’m writing this, they’re testing their first working prototype of the jig—I’ll stay safely at my desk, but everything sounds like it’s working so far!
We’ve also taken advantage of the extra hands to move Handibot production to a new facility just down the road from ShopBot. As the line of Handibot accessories grows and orders increase, we regularly find ourselves wanting more space while ShopBot as a whole is growing rapidly at the same time. Our new space has room for all of the extra tools we’ll need as we start to plan production of the new Handibot model late this summer.