Project Examples

Art-to-Part Project

Course: 26.373 Plastics Mold Engineering I
Semester: Spring 2007
Instructor: Stephen Johnston
Partner:Tsongas Industrial History Center

For workshops with younger school aged children the Tsongas Industrial History Center uses Gogoplex building sets, in which the connecting blocks have steadily been breaking. Plastics engineering was asked to redesign a connecting block with greater strength and durability, create a mold, and produce a supply of new connecting blocks which would fit with the existing sets. The plastics mold engineering students developed unique plastic parts from initial conception through design, analysis, and manufacturing, resulting in working prototype, tooling and molded parts. Lab was held for two hours a week during which the class worked together redesigning a Gogoplex connector block for the Tsongas Industrial History Center.

While working on the S-L project in lab students learned the fundamental design, analysis, and manufacturing skills required for their team projects. Outside of class teams of students developed their own unique plastic parts, which were not directly related to S-L. S-L was incorporated into the class in this manner for the following reasons:

  • All students were involved with a single S-L project and it would have been very difficult to have eight unique S-L parts for the team projects.
  • The success of the project and our ability to complete projects for clients was uncertain since the project was newly developed and represented a significant advance in the capabilities of the Plastics Dept.

Learning objectives met by the S-L project:

  • The S-L component of the project helped teach the students the fundamentals of mold design. The students were motivated by the fact that the design work in lab was actually going to be used and finished parts would be manufactured.
  • Students learned that they were capable of designing and manufacturing new parts that will help people.
  • They also gained an appreciation for how much effort is required to design and manufacture each of the hundreds of plastic parts we use every day.

Community objectives met by the project:

  • The course carried the design of the Gogoplex part and mold inserts to completion. • We also completed the tool paths required for machining the Gogoplex inserts.
  • Additionally, a video was provided to the client showing how UML engineering students redesigned and manufactured the new parts. This video shows old broken parts being recycled into new parts.