Editor’s note: We are encouraging students to let us know about some of the innovative projects they’re working on. Here’s one example.
For my senior project, my team and I designed and built a fluid-powered gantry crane, which was made possible thanks to funding from the National Fluid Power Association (NFPA) Education and Technology Foundation.
The project’s design involves the application of advanced modeling for mechanical and electrical systems. The gantry crane was designed to have the same basic functions as an industrial gantry crane. However, the designed crane is smaller than an industrial crane with respect to both physical size and load capacity.
This project, despite not having the same dimensions and capabilities of an industrial crane, will provide current and future students a basis to obtain knowledge of the structure, mechanisms, programming, and controls. It will also function as a great source for research, a testing platform, and a teaching tool in fluid mechanics and control theory at both the undergraduate and graduate levels.
Lightweight materials were used for the crane’s structure, reducing the carbon footprint and making the structure more transportable. The structural design consists of aluminum rectangular tubing, which is set up with two T-frame sides with a beam connecting them. To facilitate quick assembly and disassembly of the structure, two 3/8-inch plates are connected to the side and top on each end, and are fastened with standard 1/2-inch bolts with serrated flanged nuts. The entire frame structure has locking swivel caster rollers at the base that permit easy movement and positioning of the crane.
For the fluid portion of this project, pneumatic compressors and motors handle the mechanical function. Regulators and solenoid valves, through a pneumatic H-bridge, control the speed and direction of the reversible motors. The control theory aspect uses an Arduino board to create interaction between the user and the mechanical components.
Ian Meissner is a senior at Lawrence Technological University, pursuing a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering. After graduation, he plans to obtain a Professional Engineer license, and his focus will turn to industrial engineering. During the past two years, he has held a full-time internship position with Sidock Group Inc. as a CAD technician and worked part-time in an automotive manufacturing inspection company.
The fluid powered gantry crane described here was funded by a teaching grant from the NFPA Education and Technology Foundation. For more information on other funded projects, contact Carrie Tatman Schwartz, National Fluid Power Association, at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 414-778-3347.