A Yes Vote: Engineers at the DiMonte
Group used SolidWorks and COSMOSWORKS for the design and analysis of a
voting machine that enables handicapped people such as the blind to vote
Engineers at the Aurora, IL-based DiMonte Group overcame a series of
interferences in their quest to enable handicapped voters to cast their ballots
in last week's presidential election. But these interferences were not of the
political kind: Instead, they involved components of a new voting machine that
were getting in each other's way. The solution was 3D solid modeling and finite
"Basically, we had to cram 10 lbs of tuna into a 1-lb can," says Gene DiMonte, founder of the engineering firm. He and his engineering team took over the design of the AutoMARK VAT (Voter Assist Terminal) when the design firm Automark Inc. originally hired couldn't complete the job on time.
Using SolidWorks for CAD, COSMOSWORKS for FEA, and Moldex 3D for mold-flow analysis, the team solved the interference problems, minimized the amount of material, designed custom-molded bearings, and strengthened the internal structure of the voting machine. They finished their work in time for handicapped voters in six Arizona precincts to cast their ballots with the VAT on Nov. 2.
The AutoMARK combines a scanner, touch screen, printer, display, and input device to make it easier for the blind and other handicapped voters to participate in elections. Election data, including names of candidates, is included on a Flash card inside the height-adjustable machine. Depending on their handicap, voters use a touch screen, puff-sip device, or follow audio prompts, to mark their ballots without the assistance of anyone else in the voting booth. The Help America Vote Act in 2002 requires all voting precincts to have such machines by 2006.
Among design steps was to reduce the ribbing originally designed into the enclosure. Engineers developed a new ribbing scheme that improved flow during molding while minimizing material.
"3D modeling helped us minimize errors," DiMonte says. Sending the 3D models to potential manufacturing vendors enabled engineers to get information on how to adjust the design so that the prototypes they developed were 98-percent manufacturable, he says.