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The Lathe-Inator

MIT 2.72: Elements of Mechanical Design

 February - May 2023

Spring 2023, 6 other students and I designed, modeled, and constructed a tabletop lathe. This class instilled in me the ability to make quick, but grounded, decisions as an engineer; the theory in mechanical design to support those decisions; and a love for technical problem-solving.

My main role on the team was running FEA in Solidworks to design the flexures for our lathe. Throughout this process, I iterated through different geometries to maximize or minimize stiffness in each direction and ensure the parts would not yield. I had never run FEA or made parametric models before, so this class showed me how rewarding that could be. To learn more about my flexures, click on the images on the right.

My other big role was machining the spindle shaft; I volunteered for this task since I was familiar with turning shafts due to my 3 roll mill project. Even so, I learned so, so much about using lathes, from swapping their gears, to making crisp threads, to dial indicating. The spindle took lots of practice, but I'm glad for the time I spent on it because it challenged myself to go out of my comfort zone. 

P.S. Our team is called Doofenshmirtz Evil Incorporated, hence the name "Lathe-Inator."

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