ME 4171 Summary of Past Projects
ME 4171 - Environmentally Conscious Design and Manufacture Summary List of Past Projects
Waste Tire Management is a local tire collector and recycler which is making a
product called Perma-Mulch. Perma-Mulch is in essence a rubber mat of "fake"
hardwood mulch which you can place around trees. I have attached a brochure
of the product and company. The product is made out of recycled tires and in
very high demand, so high that Waste Tire Management needs to increase their
output significantly. The company wants to know how it can best automate their
current process. Your task is to design an technically, economically and
environmentally sound automated process for making the Perma-Mulch. The
president of the company, Ron Green, has made himself available to answer
questions and provide technical support. The company is based in Lawrenceville
(see attached brochure), so you should definitely visit it of you are
interested in this project.
Sheet Molding Compound (SMC) is a fiber glass type material. Roughly, glass
and plastic compound are mixed and pressed together in sheets. Typically, high
quality glass is used, so called E-Glass. However, Premix is interested in
identifying the technical, economical, and ecological trade-offs of using
recycled glass, also known as A-Glass. You would have to do a cost-benefit
analysis from technical, economical, and ecological perspectives. Dr. Dave
Bonner, vice-president and chief technical officer is your initial contact. I
am trying to get you another contact as well. Another technical contact is
Stewart Coulter who is a Ph.D. student here at Tech (894-8528). He has worked
at Premix and can provide you some process information.
All of you should be familiar with chromium and chromium plated products.
Several different chormium plating processes are available, but some are more
environmentally sound than others. However, the cheaper processes tend to be
the more hazardous processes. In this project, you will have to identify the
best chromium plating process out of six available prcesses for an aircraft
component. We would like you to use a piece of software called ASURE for this.
ASURE is a spreadsheet based program developed by SAIC (Science Applications
International Corporation) for risk and trade-off analyses. Your job is to
model the six plating processed in ASURE and find the best plating process for
the given component. Dr. Harsh Karandikar will be your technical contact at
SAIC. He has access to additional information from Pratt & Whitney (a
major aircraft engine manufacturer) and from the Air Force.
In this project, the focus is to investigate the possibility of automating the
process of demanufacturing electronic products. A critical issue is the
automated removal of screws from electronic assemblies. In general, such a
fastener removal process would involve the following problems:
- Locating the screw face with the vision system.
- Positioning the robot head/tool to remove the fastener.
- Orienting the part for the automation.
- Holding the part in place while the screw is being removed.
questions to be answered in this project are:
- What capabilities are needed for such a process and what capabilities
exist already in commercial equipment?
- How can an algorithm and process be developed for automated screw removal?
- What aspects of the product design have the largest impact on such an
automated process ? Some initial factors to consider are size of screw,
protrusions, reflectiveness of material, etc. Simulation will be one of the
tools employed to identify such factors.
Motorola, AT&T and Ford are
sponsoring a project in the Manufacturing Research Center of which this is a
part. Matthew Hryniak is a students who is working on this project
and you can contact him for more information.
In this project, your task is to model and assess the cost of remanufacturing
car doors. Remanufacture of products and components is generally regarded as
being better than merely recycling the embedded materials. Automotive drive
train components such as engines and transmission have always been classical
examples of remanufactured components. Doors have never really been
remanufactured, except on a case by case basis in bodyshops. The question to
be answered in this project is whether large scale remanufacture is
economically feasible. You will have to design a remanufacture process and set
up a spreadsheet based cost model of the process to answer this question. Your
prime contact person is Tony Amezquita (894-8528) who has studied the
remanufacture of doors. We have different car doors available for comparison
in our lab. A contact at Chrysler is Mark Russel.
The automotive companies are facing stricter regulations w.r.t. recycling. A
notoriously difficult component to recycle is the instrument panel. It is
often difficult to remove, has wires, gauges, foam, and a lot of different and
incompatible materials. Your task is to come up with a feasible design of a
"green" instrument panel which is easier to recycle than current designs. More
information will follow from Susan Yester who is Chrysler's recycling
The American Plastic Council is investigating continuous stream automated
plastic recycling processes. These processes rely heavily on shredding and
material separation by flotation and shredding. Although it may sound
unbelievable, Chrysler is having trouble with the Neon sunvisor in that these
contain twelve (!) different materials. Chrysler is interested in seeing
whether a) the current sunvisor should be recycled using a continuous shredder
process or a manual disassembly process (cost is the major issue), and b) how
the current sunvisor can best be redesigned to reduce the cost of recycling.
The same applies to the electric door mirror. For more information, you can
call Frank Parkinson at Jeep Truck Engineering. I am looking for a contact at
the American Plastic Council as well.
Automobile tires are a large source of waste and the automotive companies are
being held responsible by the government to reduce the waste generated by
automobile tires. You will have to think about an infrastructure to reduce the
waste, find alternative uses of tires, and possibilities of recycling. Mark
Russel of the Large Vehicle Platform at the Chrysler Corporation has agreed to
be your technical contact. I encourage you to contact him in order to define
the project description.
This project deals with collecting and removing hazardous styrene from
manufacturing processes at Premix. You would have to design a system which
enhance the environmental friendliness of the polymer manufacturing process. I
have attached a project description which has been prepared by Stewart Coulter
who is in your class. He has worked at Premix and can provide you with more
This project deals with the reduction (by treatment and/or prevention) of waste
water generated by the Texas Instruments plant in Attleboro, MA. You would
have to come up with practical and implementable solutions to this problem.
More details are given in the attached description. Zach VerGow who is in the
class has worked various time at this Texas Instruments' plant and can provide
you some more details.
A lot of automotive plants are actually assembly plants to which the parts to
be assembled are supplied. All these parts come in a package and you can
imagine that all the packaging material causes large amounts of waste. The
objective of this particular project is to design a reusable container to
transport a steel ring (see attached fax transmittal). More information is
forthcoming. We are in the process of identifying a contact at GM.
Prof. Richard Maarten from Industrial Design and Scott
Steadman are involved in designing a low cost, easily configurable car for
handicapped persons. The car has to be reconfigurable because of the various
types of handicaps. A prototype is under construction in the Wesco building.
However, they are also interested in making reconfigurable and environmentally
benign cars based on this prototype for the general public. That is the basic
goal of the project. This project is relatively open ended, but there are
various aspects which can be investigated. For instance, what aspects of such
a car should be combined into modules? What are technically and economically
good ways to connect these modules? What type of engine should be used,
electrical, propane, gas, or a combination?
Another project offered by Prof. Maarten deals with housing. Houses are built
and typically are torn down or fall apart once they become inhabitable. This
process causes and enormous waste of resources (see also your textbook). Prof.
Richard Maarten from Industrial Design is interested in
designing housing which is modular and can either be reused or easily adapted
into a new improved house. The goal is to create cheaper housing by extending
their useful life and thus reduce the consumption of resources. Ideally, he
wants to have some prototypes available for the 1996 Olympic Games. Although
this project is relatively open ended, there are various aspects which can be
investigated. For instance, how big or how small should the house's "modules"
be? What is technically, economically and environmentally the best way to
create a modular house? How should the modules be connected?
This project deals with determining the compatibility of various plastics (and
perhaps other materials) utilized in (automotive) design. I have parenthesized
the word automotive because although the initial idea came from the automotive
industry, it is also applicable to other fields of design (e.g., appliances).
What you would have to do is gather detailed information regarding the
compatibility of various plastics, and develop a good material selection method
(plus software, if possible) which can be used by designers to select the best
materials for their design. It is possible that Chrysler will provide a
technical contact for this project, but that is still to be determined.
I have attached some information regarding the so-called Automotive Solutions
Competitions sponsored by the Big Three automakers. Although the deadline for
participation is expired, the competition description still provides a
challenging and real world problem. Although the competition focuses on the
technical and economical feasibility of recovering under-the-hood plastic
components, I encourage you to think beyond merely plastics. If I were you, I
would also consider suggestions for redesigning under-the-hood components and
associated layout to facilitate recovery. This is not states in the
competition overview. I can provide some more information and contacts at
Chrysler can probably be utilized for technical information.
I have attached a copy of the Padnos Design Competition. The main issue is to
address the environmental aspect of product design. To increase your chances,
you may want to think about a product which is a) environmental friendly, and
b) helps cleaning up the environment. It is a neat project in case you want to
exercise you creativity in reducing the environmental impact of engineering
systems. But remember, in addition to the environmental aspects, I also want
to see the engineering details addressed.