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Thursday, May 06, 2021

A Musing on Modeling Safety Wire - How Much Detail is Necessary?

A question that was recently posed to me was; "How would you model safety wire in an assembly?" 

Safety wire on a fuel
divider on an 
aircraft engine
At first, I thought I'd write a post trying to summarize the standard, and how I've seen it approached in my travels over the years. But no matter how I tried to "summarize" the standard, it ended up too long, and so dry it put me to sleep.  So instead, I'm going to try writing this briefly, and hopefully to the point. 

First of all, Safety (aka lock-wire) is small diameter wire of various sizes that is used to prevent fasteners from loosening and ultimately falling out. It should always pull in a direction that tightens the fastener. It's usually twisted with 6-8 twists per inch. 

Of course there are more details, but they're covered by standards. In my aviation maintenance travels, that standard is AC43.13-1b, issued by the Federal Aviation Administration  (FAA). In my engineering travels, that standard is NASM33540.  I'm sure there are other standards.

That's important. The standards tell the installer how to secure the fasteners with safety wire.

So when it comes time to show safety wire on a model or drawing, is it normal to show the twisted wire?  Is it modeled exactly as shown in the
image to the right?

Heck no! That takes a lot of time and computer resources, which gets expensive fast. And having a standard to reference, there's little to be gained other than bragging rights for the designer. 

Instead, I've seen, and used, on of two alternatives. 

The first, is to use a sweep in the model, showing where the wire should go. This takes a little modeling time and dedication, but it will show up on the model, and propagate to the drawing when its created.

Safety wire shown in the model.
I've colored it in red here to make it stand out. 




The modeled sweep representing the safety wire on the drawing.
A leader references the standards in the notes
.

The other, is to use sketch geometry when the drawing is created. It takes a bit of time to sketch in the drawing, but the results do a good job of showing the desired result.


Sketches on the drawing calling out the safety wire
Circles and lines represent the wire's twists.

Which ever method is used, a note can call out the standard to be complied with.  So the wire shown on on the drawing and model show where the wire should go, the note calls out the standard to reference.

If the installer has any doubts, the standard should be readily available for reference. I know in many cases, it's probably even legally required to be available. 

The next logical question for a reader may be, "How does this apply to me?" After all, while safe wire isn't uncommon, there are plenty of users who live long, fulfilling lives without ever touching safety wire.

If you get anything out of this post, ponder if there's anything that can be streamlined by adding more or less detail? How detailed does the model of that purchased part need to be? Are you spending extra time showing model details that are covered by a standards that can just be shown by a note with a leader? 

Perhaps take a few minutes to think it over. You might find you save hours! 

Acknowledgements

Models created by me in Autodesk Fusion 360

McMaster Carr models used:
  • Round Head Screws (wire lockable) - P/N 90350A310 
  • Flat Washer: P/N 92141A011
  • 45 degree elbow (37 degree flare to NPT): P/N 50715K637
  • 90 degree elbow (37 degree flare to NPT): P/N 50715K413
FAA Reference for Safetying: AC43.13-1b (See page 7-19)

NASM33540: This document is only available for purchase, so I've added a link to the old standard, MS33540.  It's very similar to NASM33540, as well as AC43-13-1b

Thursday, February 11, 2021

Getting Jacked - A Simple and Clever Way to Separate Parts

One thing using 3D CAD programs has taught me, programs like these can make assembling parts together a piece of cake! With just a few clicks, parts can be quickly placed into position.


3D CAD systems have many ways of assembling components


But just because a constraints allow us to easily assemble and disassemble parts, doesn't mean that it will be so easy to do on the assembly line, or during maintenance. 

 

One example is a seal, such as a gasket or packing that locks the two mating parts together. For example, in the image below, the O-ring creating the seal may cause enough friction to prevent the flanges from being easily separated. 


The O-ring sealing the components could be enough to "friction lock"
the assembly, making it difficult to take apart.


One option would be taking a screwdriver or another prying device between the flanges and pry like you're opening a casket of pirate treasure.  But while a tempting option, wedging a prybar between the flanges could result in damage to the flanges.  If the flanges are made of a soft material, such as aluminum, the odds of damaging the parts goes up significantly. 


But the designers of old did come up with a more elegant way of separating these... sticky problems. 



Many times, assemblies such as these will have tapped holes that appear to go nowhere.  They don't have a corresponding hole in any mating part.  They just appear to.... be there.

Why were these holes put there? They do have a purpose!


That's because they aren't there for the purpose of assembling parts.  They're for disassembling parts. 


They're called "jacking holes". By carefully threading screws into these holes, the two flanges can be pushed apart evenly without damaging the parts making up the assembly. 


Using a socket head cap screw to separate the flanges.



It's a simple, and elegant way of solving a challenge. 


So if you should find yourself having to disassemble an assembly similar to what I've shown here, look for those jacking holes and see if it can make your life easier. 


And if you find yourself designing a component that may present a challenge, perhaps adding a couple of jacking holes might make for a design that's easier to disassemble when the need arises! 


Opposing jacking screws help separate the flanges evenly!


About the Author:

Jonathan Landeros is a degreed Mechanical Engineer and certified Aircraft Maintenance Techncian. He designs in Autodesk Inventor, Siemens NX, at work, and Autodesk Fusion 360 for home projects. 

For fun he cycles, snowboards, and turns wrenches on aircraft. 


Standard Parts Used on this Project

A569-343 Viton O-ring - McMaster Carr Part Number 9464K173


Buna-N -343 Backup  Ring - McMaster Carr Part Number 5288T372


1/2-13 x .500 Long Socket Head Cap Screw - McMaster Carr Part Number 92185A712

Sunday, September 13, 2020

Double Checking Your Work and Subverting Mr. Murphy

I once saw a graph that showed the cost of making a change in the CAD model vs  further down in the product design cycle


Spoiler alert! It gets more expensive as you move from design, to prototype, to production.  

One need only to cases like the Takata airbag recall, or Boeing 737 Max grounding or the impact of the impact of a a production level design change in in money, company reputation, and tragically, in lives lost. 

But I'm not here to write about such heavy topics. The example I'm choosing to document is a much lower stakes version of the same thing.  It's just a basic hobbyist example that at worst, is inconvenient and marginally embarrassing.

It's an access panel based on something you'd find on an aircraft. It's a concept for a potential future hobby project. I built one back when I was in school.

So I happily modeled away in Fusion 360, creating sheet metal parts and placing fasteners from McMaster Carr

After spending a couple of evenings of casual modeling, I was done! I took that moment we all love, I leaned back, looked at my work proudly, then prepared one last check before I took my little victory lap.

The completed inspection hangar, or so I thought...

And that's when I saw it. 

The countersunk rivets I had installed were the wrong ones. I'm not sure how I missed it initially, but obviously I did. 

So first, what's wrong with the rivet? 

It's a rivet with a 78 degree countersink, which means the countersink extends to the second sheet of metal being riveted.  This is a big no-no. When the countersink extends into the second piece of metal, the larger hole required in the first sheet of metal makes for a weaker joint.

The wrong rivet. I did match the countersink angle to match the rivet for clarification.



The incorrect rivet for this application. The countersink angle is too steep


The correct rivet is a 100 degree rivet. The shallower angle prevents the head from punching into the second sheet of metal. That means a stronger, and safer joint.

The 100 degree rivet, the correct one for this application. 
I know in the model the rivet does appear to just clip the second sheet.
But past experience has taught me that this combination does work.

The shallower angle of the 100 degre countersink makes a stronger joint

So that's the technical aspect of it, what's the other lesson?

I suppose the first lesson is make sure to check the hardware before you put it in. But we all make mistakes. That's where double checking comes in. 

A final check can help prevent the last little "oops" from slipping through. Even though we can't eliminate them all, we can reduce them with a little time. 

For those of us working in industry, a second set of eyes never hurts. In some places, multiple checks on a drawing are required. It's not a bad practice at all, one I think should be taken advantage of whenever possible. 

Some may argue it takes time, but it takes much less time than undoing a costly mistake. 

I've worked in maintenance shops where "second eyes" is a standard policy on items such as fuel system repairs. In other words, the person performing the work checks his work, and then a second technician or inspector checks it again. There often are even signatures required to prove that this step was performed. 

But that's it for today's anecdote. I re-learned a few lessons in a safe environment where the only bruise was to my pride. 

I hope you can take a few lessons from this musing, and keep making cool stuff! 

About the Author:

Jonathan Landeros is a degreed Mechanical Engineer and certified Aircraft Maintenance Techncian. He designs in Autodesk Inventor, Siemens NX, at work, and Autodesk Fusion 360 for home projects. 

For fun he cycles, snowboards, and turns wrenches on aircraft. 


Additional Resources: 

A nice  rundown on different types of rivets by- Hanson Rivet and Supply

A wealth of knowledge on general airframe repairs (start at page 4-31 for the Riveting Section) -Aviation Maintenance Technician Handbook 

Standard Parts Used on this Project.

.125 Diameter, 78 Degree Solid Rivet (The Wrong One) - McMaster Carr Part Number 97483A075

.125 Diameter, 100 Degree Solid Rivet (The Right One) - McMaster Carr Part Number 96685A170

10-32 Floating Nut Plate - McMaster Carr Part Number 90857A129

.094 Diameter Rivet (to Fasten Nut Plate) - McMaster Carr Part Number 96685A143

#10 Flat Washer - McMaster Carr Part Number 92141A011

10-32 Pan Head Phillips Screw - McMaster Carr Part Number 91772A826


Friday, July 31, 2020

Designing for O-Rings and Reusing Design Features in Fusion 360

O-ring seals are hard to avoid as a mechanical designer of any type. They can be found just about anywhere that fluid, gases, or debris needs to be kept in or out of something.

An O-Ring on the end of a flashlight

As simple as they appear, there's enormous amounts of research invested in that simple, pliable polymer ring.

How does this affect the designer? Typically by the pages and pages (real or virtual), containing tables and tables of o-ring groove dimensions.
O-Rings from a
different flashlight.


When it comes time to apply that to a 3D modeler, that means creating the o-ring grooves, including some tight tolerances. The process can be extremely tedious, especially when there are multiple o-rings of different sizes involved.

So how can a user create these o-ring glands as painlessly as possible? Sure, many of us have placed the same feature so many times we have the dimensions memorized. But why do that, unless you like that sort of pain? 

While I can't speak for every CAD tool, many tools have wizards that will help create o-ring glands, as well as other common design features. Autodesk Inventor has iFeatures, Solidworks has Library Features.

Fusion 360 doesn't have a library feature as such, at least that I've found at this point. But, there is a way to create such a thing and make life a little easier.

Preparing the O-Ring Gland

The first step, is acquire the documentation with the necessary dimensions. Lately I've become partial to the Parker O-Ring Handbook myself, seeing how they know a thing or two about sealing. 

For this example, I'll use a -018 o-ring. It's a static (non moving) seal, and I'll use the male gland as an example (stop snickering, that's Parker's terminology). 

Gland Schematic from Parker O-Ring Handbook

Here are the dimensions pulled from the design tables

From Table 4-1

C=.860/.861
F = .750/.754
Corner break = .005 



From Table 4-1A 

W = .105/.110 



From Table 4-2

R = .005/.015 

O-Ring Groove Radius

Modeling the O-Ring Gland

Before creating any models in Fusion 360, enter the relevant values into the parameters dialog box. This seems like extra work, but I think it makes creating models with new sizes easier.

The Fusion 360 Parameters screen with the o-ring parameters started


Now, draw the profile of the o-ring gland, using the values from the parameters table. 

The gland profile sketched and dimensioned.

Next revolve the profile into a solid. Now, we have a solid representing the shape of the groove.

The o-ring groove revolved as a solid.

Believe or not, that's it for creating the gland. Saving it will make it available for other components to use.

Inserting the O-Ring Gland

What's needed next is a component in need of an o-ring. In this case, I've modeled a simple plug in Fusion 360.  It's similar to the threaded plugs found here on the McMaster Carr site.  I've just moved the gland location to make things a little more clear.

A threaded plug

To place the o-ring gland, right click on the file in the Data Panel and choose "Insert into Current Design".  This places the gland into the model



This inserts the gland into the plug.  Now it can be positioned by using the Move/Copy command, or assembled using the Joints command.

Placing the o-ring gland. The Move\Copy command is shown.

After positioning the gland, use the combine command to subtract the gland volume from the plug.  


Once the Combine Command has been committed, the plug is finished.  And you also have a -018 gland ready to use in your next design!

The finished plug. (Don't forget to hide the original solid!)


But undoubtedly, other o-ring sizes will be needed.  That's where using the parameters can come in handy.  Just copy the existing gland and rename it, then enter new values in the chart.


Summing it Up

I only used static o-ring grooves for this post.  There's also dynamic (moving) seals, face seals, glands that use backup rings (for higher pressures), and probably something else I'm not mentioning. I just can't get into them all, but the data is out there. It's just a matter of looking and asking questions.

As for desigining the gland, the steps I've shown here are for Fusion 360. But if you've made it this far, I hope it's the process you take away. I hope that you can find it helpful, and perhaps can apply it to what ever product you use for your design.

At the very least, I hope you walk away with resources that you can use when the time comes to design for o-rings.

And lastly, here's the list of resources I used in this post.

Parker O-Ring Handbook -  PDF Download
McMaster Carr - Website
Milwaukee Penlight - From the Home Depot Website 
Mag Instruments Maglite - Mag Instruments Website
Autodesk Fusion 360 - Autodesk Website