Team 502: Material Handling of Ceramics

Team 502: Material Handling of Ceramics

Corning produces brittle, cylindrical ceramic filters for vehicles with internal combustion engines to filter exhaust air. They discovered that these ceramic filters are often damaged when moved from one manufacturing stage to another, typically occurring when the filter’s skin is crushed, making the filters unusable. We were tasked with providing a solution for handling ceramic filters without introducing damage during the production process. Our design prevents visible damage at the location where the production handler contacts the filter’s outer walls.

Our handler design has three fingers that approach the filter’s surface in separate places around the its circumference. The design is adjustable depending on the size of the filter it is handling. There is compliant padding attached to the design that contacts the filter’s surface to lessen the contact forces applied on the filter. Force sensors indicate when the handler should stop applying pressure, allowing for part movement. This procedure is quick and consistent with the use of motors and a computer, making it usable in a lean manufacturing system. The linear motion of the padded three-finger design also allows the handler to pick and place various sizes of these ceramic filters with a controlled motion.

We valuated the handler performance with sample filters provided by Corning. A successful test resulted in the handler not causing damage to the ceramic parts after contact by regulating the forces applied by the handler, adding cushioning to the interface, and increasing the contact area.

Makada Browne, Erich Noack, Charles Stubbs & Amelia Veith

Shayne McConomy, Ph.D.