By Eliot Mason
I am really enjoying my time here at Hillside Product Design; no two days are ever the same. I am learning lots and facing new challenges, which I love as it gives me the chance to test my recently acquired knowledge. I feel that my confidence and ability is building and this is giving me the opportunity to become more and more involved with different parts of the design process and has now enabled me to take on and complete my first project. It is funny to think that this time last year I was spending countless hours completing my research report for my final university project and now I am working in the industry that I love.
For my first real life project I was asked to enclose a regulated power supply within a custom housing which is to be used as part of a test rig. The electronics were already built and I was tasked with designing and making the protective housing. I could use the workshop, the 3D printer and 4 axis CNC milling machine. The primary requirement was that the enclosure had to be safe in use because of the live voltages. One particular concern was securing the cables as the power supply would be moved around as part of the test protocols.
This project proved a great introduction to the real life demands placed on designers and it gave me the first chance to work to realistic deadlines and with in-house budgets. The other designers were a great help but I had to be careful not to break my budget by taking up their time.
I was pretty confident with my ability to create all of the required parts in CAD and produce the 3D prints, what I soon learnt was that the 3D printer has to be scheduled because it is so busy and once I had a time slot arranged the parts could be printed overnight. I needed to machine a chassis for the housing but I had never used the CNC machine. The chassis was simple enough to create in CAD but when it came to manufacturing it, I went ‘back to school’ and had to learn the basics from one of the designers. With their help I was able to get this part made in just a few hours.
The housing is manufactured from a mix of 3D printed parts and CNC machined parts along with several proprietary glands and fixings. One unusual part I incorporated was a custom made light pipe which was used to take the light from a surface mount LED on the PCB right up to the top face of the end cap where it could be read as a status indicator.
I am very pleased with the end result and the team review was very positive. I did not realise it but at the time I was under the boss’s microscope and apparently I did pretty well!
I feel that this project was a nice end to my induction here and is a solid starting point for 2018 and my career at Hillside Product Design. I am looking forward to being involved in bigger projects and seeing my knowledge and skill set improve.
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