Polyplast and continued improvement
Every day, engineers and researchers achieve breakthroughs and create devices, tools, and components that make our work, and in many cases our lives, easier. More often than not, we have no idea how these creations came about or who is behind all the research, calculations, and efforts contributing to the results.
That’s why we thought it would be worthwhile to tell you about the creation process behind two new tools developed by a Polyplast employee, François Boisclair, a junior engineer and project manager in mechanical engineering. He has created two sizing tools: one to assess the load capacity of wheels and rollers, and one to calculate shock absorbers’ performance based on four factors provided by the customer.
Wheels and rollers
First, it is important to describe the wheels and rollers whose load capacity must be measured. In this case, these “wheels” are composed of a solid core, like steel, aluminum, or nylon, that is covered with a substance to provide better shock and blow absorption as well as improved grip. To draw an analogy, we could compare these wheels or rollers to deflated car tires. They’re used in equipment for the forestry and sawmill industry, as well as in mining equipment, asphalt machinery or carts, to name a few. In short, any equipment with components that must be shock-resistant to provide the best performance.
It’s often said that necessity is the mother of invention. Well, here comes innovation! Starting from a physics principle, François based his own calculations on the stress-strain curve specific to each polyurethane to predict its behaviour in wheels, rollers, and shock absorbers in compression. This is where polyurethane coating comes into the picture. This new computer-based tool allows us to change the type of polyurethane used, whether ether- or ester-based, to determine the maximum load capacity and ensure that the components are resistant and efficient.
A serendipitous discovery
The computer-based tool that François programmed was something of a happy accident; after all, it’s sometimes while looking for one thing that we discover another. Looking to characterize polyurethanes in compression with the Centre de technologie minérale et de plasturgie in Thetford Mines, he realized that polyurethanes' behaviour, while not linear like that of metals, can be expressed into an equation! The material deformation calculation indicated a deformation that was curved rather than linear, and could be used to determine the maximum load capacity to find solutions for bursting wheel issues.
A second calculation tool, this time to measure shock absorbers, was developed. These shock absorbers are mainly used in the forestry industry, and partly in the mining sector. They come in various shapes and sizes, but most of the time they are in the form of a disc or plate. They can be used to stop the stroke of a log or cylinder, or to support equipment that is being hit. This rather complex tool makes it possible to program and automate certain operations.
To do this, the customer must provide the following information consisting of four assessment factors: impact surface, mass, falling speed or height, and the desired thickness of the shock absorber. This information allows us to produce a component that is custom-made for the machine’s specifications.
All these amazing discoveries and solutions help extend the service life and increase the efficiency of tools and work equipment. This goes to show that there’s no stopping progress!
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