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Thursday, November 23, 2017

Lessons from Life's Workbench - Penetrant Inspection

Happy Thanksgiving to those in the United States.  Enjoy the holiday!  Here's a quick post on penetrant inspection for your consideration! 

In my aircraft maintenance classes, I've been able to try my hand at dye penetrant inspection.  
An example of cracks in a part.  This is actually from
magnetic particle inspection test.  But the tests are similar,
and it's the best picture I have! 

There are a few variations of the process, but the one I performed soaked the part in an light oil containing a phosphorescent dye.  

The dye soaks into cracks and voids in the material.  After soaking, the part is rinsed to remove penetrant on the surface of the part, and finally, it's sprayed with a powder like developer to draw some of the remaining penetrant out of the flaws so they can be seen with a UV light.  

After inspection, the part is thoroughly cleaned and returned to service, assuming it passed inspection of course.  

It's a quick, fairly easy to perform test, and can be a great to find surface flaws on a part.  

It's also messy, at least where I learned how to do it!  But a little mess never hurt anyone. 

But my experience, isn't vast by any means.  It's something I've tried enough to gain some familiarity with.  

For a little more information, check out these resources.  


Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Lessons From Life's Workbench - Intergranular Corrosion

One of the most insidious types of corrosion I learned about in my classes is intergranular corrosion.  Aluminum alloys containing copper, such as 2024 aluminum, particularly if it's been improperly heat treated.  

The copper in the alloy comes out of the solution, and creates tiny galvanic cells that begin corroding the metal. 

The sneaky part of this type of corrosion is that it can happen deep inside the material, and may not become visible until the corrosion breaks the surface of the material in a process called exfoliation. 

 
Here are some pictures of aluminum that has some serious exfoliation.
The metal has completely disintegrated.
Another angle of the same extrusion.
You can see how the material has flaked away.
It goes without saying that intergranular corrosion is bad.  But if it can start in the interior of a material, where it can't be seen,, how can it be found?

That's where nondestructive tests (NDT) such as ultrasonic inspection or eddy current inspection can be employed to locate and eliminate this type of corrosion before it affects the strength of the structure. 

That's it for this weeks tip!  Have a great week! 


 

Monday, November 13, 2017

Using Your Resources to Design in Fusion 360

I've had a mental idea to build a simple rack to hold bolts of fabric in Fusion 360. 

It would look similar to this mobile pipe rack found on the McMaster Carr Website

But naturally, the store bought version doesn't quite meet my needs.  Murphy's Law wouldn't allow that!  So that leaves me in the position of designing and building one. 

Here's one side of the rack, mostly done,

And seeing how I don't want to work on it evening upon evening, that means I have to take advantage of every step I can to increase the efficiency my design time.

Now I should mention that many of these steps I've shared before, so this will be a link back to these posts.  But I think it's a good example of how these processes can come together and become greater than the sum of their parts. 

Here are the tips!

1) Don't Create a Model if You Don't Have to!

The rack needs to be mobile, so it needs to rest on casters.  Fortunately, Fusion 360 has a link to the McMaster Carr website that lets you insert models from their website into your design.  The part number is included, so you can always order the part from McMaster Car if you like.

Downloading these casters was more accurate and less time
consuming than trying to build my own versions

Here's the link to a previous post if you want to read more!

2) If you have to build it, reuse it! 


Every wooden piece pictured here was built and resized from
one source model.

The frame is going to be made primarily of 2x4s.  And while this isn't a complicated part, why keep drawing rectangles over and over again if you can just Copy and Paste New?  This tool allows you to copy a part, paste a new, independent version, then resize and reposition it where needed.

You can find a link to more details there. 

3) Don't rebuild what you don't have to! Redux!

I couldn't find the joist hangar on the McMaster Carr website.  It might be their, but I couldn't find it.  So instead I tried GrabCAD and found it here.

The joist hanger inserted into the model.


The download wasn't quite as slick as the one on the McMaster Carr website, but it was still a lot quicker than building the model myself. 

In Conclusion!

The design still has a long way to go.  It's not even complete, and I can already see a few changes I'll probably want to make.  But being able to reuse and download parts got me a lot further down the road in a couple of hours than I otherwise would have been.

So I hope these ideas inspire you to try a few things, and get a little further down the road yourself!

Friday, November 10, 2017

A Life Lesson - My Inspiration from a Little Black Cat

Foreword

This post is far off my usual topics.  It's a reflection on a little inspiration coming from the strangest places.

But who doesn't need that once in a while!

*******

This week has been one of those weeks.  You've probably had them, where nothing seems to go right.

In work and play, I've had projects go sideways, problems big and small plague me.  Like zombies from the grave, rookie mistakes I made months, or even years ago came back to bite me.

It was one of those weeks that leaves you asking yourself "Why am I doing this?"  (Looks at bank statement).  "Oh yeah, that's why.'

But even in this week of frustration, a ray of inspiration came to me.  And strangely enough, that inspiration came in a form I would have never expected.

A couple of nights ago I saw two of my cats, who are brothers and littermates, get into a little playful "rough and tumble". It's not uncommon, they like to roughhouse with each other.

The contenders were...

"Runtley" earned his name because he's the runt of the litter, he was born a little guy, and now, fully grown, he's small and slight of build.

This is "Runtley the Runtling"
His brother, "Scar", earned his name because he was missing a chunk of fur under his eye when we adopted him, a product of an unknown kitten misadventure. The wound has since healed, but the name remains. Scar is bigger, bolder, and stronger that his smaller brother.

This is Scar.  He's the bigger and bolder one.
The two cats wrestled on our hardwood floors, rolling about and pawing at each other as they played.

Naturally, I expected the bigger, tougher Scar to come out on top.  He had every reason to.  He has a size advantage, he had a weight advantage, he's even the more confident of the two cats.

Scar as a kitten. Bearing the mark that named him
But to my surprise, the Runt twisted and rolled, wrapped his front legs around his bigger brother, and with a heave from his back legs, rolled Scar and threw him to the floor.

The Runt's "baby picture". You can see how tiny he was.

My mind's voice shouted in it's best UFC tone: THERE'S THE TAKEDOWN

Scar got up and ran off, the fight knocked out of him for now, the round going to the undercat.

The victorious Runtling gave chase, as if to say "How 'bout another round!"

I instantly thought of the Mark Twain quote, "It's not the size of the dog in the fight, it's the size of the fight in the dog."

Perhaps in this case, it was a cat instead of a dog.

But in a few minutes, a runt of a black cat taught me that we all have disadvantages.  We've made mistakes, and we've all suffered setbacks.  Some of us were given a disadvantage from the very start. 

It's easy to give up and make excuses, but if you stick with it, you might just beat the odds.

Sometimes you have to be the scrappy little runt in the room, who isn't the biggest, strongest, or most confident.

Sometimes you just have to be too stubborn to quit.

Scar (left) and the Runtling.  In spite of their wrestling matches, they get along!

Tuesday, November 07, 2017

Lessons from Life's Workbench - Selecting a Solid Rivet

In my last Wednesday, I talked briefly about how rivets are sized.  But what about how to choose a rivet for a given application?

There are requirements for how to select a solid rivet, and while they may vary slightly from application from application, the FAA publication AC43-13-1B is a good guideline for selecting a solid rivet.

The pages referenced are 4-20 and 4-21, and can be downloaded at this link.

So what do those instructions tell us?

For my example, I'm going say I'm riveting one sheet of .032 thick material to .040 thick material, using a MS20470 "universal", or button head rivet.   
The Sheet Metal Thicknesses shown
in red and cyan.  The rivet is in gold
The first step to choosing a rivet is to select a rivet diameter.  By referencing the document, you can see that it states that we should use a rivet with a diameter 3 times the thickness of the thickest sheet.  

So if the material is .040 thick, then 3 times that thickness is .120, which is close enough to a 1/8th (.125) inch rivet.  

So there we go!  The diameter is selected!  But now, how long of a rivet do we need?

The dimensions of the rivet needed for this application.
AC43.13-1B states that we should use a rivet that extends 1.5 times its diameter beyond the underside of the material.  

Adding .032 and .040 we end up with a total material thickness of 0.072.  Extending 1.5 rivet diameters beyond that we get a total length of .2595 inches,
which is close enough to 1/4 (.250) inches.

So this application calls for using a MS20470-4-4 for this particular application.

Now the rivet can be driven with a rivet gun and bucking bar, and the parts can be fastened! 

A typical rivet gun and bucking bar set.


I hope you find this tip helpful!  

A sample of the approximate dimensions of the set head.
One final note, the documentation I've used is an "Advisory Circular".  If you have engineering documentation, such as a manufacturer drawing or a maintenance manual, do what it says!  The manufacturer's data always wins in this case!

Wednesday, November 01, 2017

Lessons from Life's Workbench - Finding Rivet Diameter and Length from the Part Number

A few counter sunk rivets corralled
on my laptop
One thing I've learned about aircraft fasteners is that their part numbering system is like speaking another language.  But if you can understand the language, it all begins to make sense.   

Although I admit, it might take a little while!  But if you work with it, the patterns begin to emerge.  

For my sample, I'm going to use solid aircraft rivets.  It's the first fastener I learned the part numbering system for, and it gave me a basis to become familiar with other fasteners as I encountered them.  

So let's say we're given the part number MS20426-AD4-5.  You're first reaction might be: That means absolutely nothing!!

But in reality, it does mean something, once you learn to speak the language.  

Here's how to begin to break down the seemingly cryptic system.

I'll start by separating the part into it's key components. Each group of the number means something, although some mean more than others.

MS20 * 426 * AD * 4 * 5

MS20 - This part of the number tells us it's part of the Military (MS) standard

426 - This designates the head style for the rivet.  In this case, 426 tell us this is a countersunk rivet. The other common rivet style is designated by the number 470, for a universal (domed) head

AD - This designates the material of the rivet.  AD is 2117 aluminum.  Other examples of material and designations are: 
          A - 1100 or 3003 Aluminum
          DD - 2024 aluminum

4 -    This designates the diameter of the rivet in 32nds of an inch.  In other words, this example has a diameter of 4/32nds of an inch.  In other words, 1/8th (.125) inches.

5 -     This final number represents the length of the rivet in 16ths.  For our example this rivet is 5/16ths (.3125) inches long

A sample of  universal (MS20470) rivets
on the left, and countersunk (MS20426)
rivets on the right. 

So that's a quick example of a rivet part number.  Granted, not all of the numbers are intuitive.  Why 426 and 470 to designate head styles?  I have no idea.


And while there will be differences from fastener to fastener, the diameter and length can be derived from the part number.

So bear it in mind!  I hope that helps you out when you're thumbing through another catalog! 

Acknowledgments and Additional Resources

Aircraft Spruce - I've gotten a few tools and supplies here.  I've linked to their page on rivets not because you can buy them here, but because their page breaks down the part numbers clearly. 

Aviation Maintenance Technician Handbook - Right off the FAA website.  Check Chapter 4, Page 4-31 for more information on the rivets I touched on here. 

World Fasteners - Another site I like because they have a visual guide of different fasteners and their root part number.  You can see their visual catalog here:


Sunday, October 29, 2017

Placing an Assembly into a New Design in Fusion 360

Last week I talked about how I used the Paste New functionality in Fusion 360 to quickly create a continuous hinge. 

A close up of the continuous hinge as it was finished in my previous post. 
My goal in creating this hinge, was to use it as a template so I can reuse it later.  However the thing with continuous hinges is that they're cut to size.  So even though the original hinge stock starts out 36 inches long, it can, it is often cut down to a much shorter length.

So what I'd like to do is insert the hinge into an assembly and cut the hinge to the length needed for that particular application.

The finished hinge placed into position.

I started out with my target assembly opened and saved.  For the sake of keeping the example simple, I'm going to use an empty file for the target assembly, but the steps are the same if there are other components already placed.

Now, I locate the hinge I intend to use in my data pane, right click on it, and choose "Insert into Current Design".

That will insert the file into the current design. 



The next thing I have to do is cut the assembly to size.  This required me to break the link with the template, so I can make the part independent from its parent. 

I can do this by right clicking on the part in the browser and choosing "Break Link". 

Breaking the link to the original hinge.
Now it comes time to cut the part down to size.  Naturally, this may vary for different parts.  In the case of the hinge, I used an offset work plane to split the solid bodies that make up each hinge leaf.

Splitting the hinge leaves using the split tool and a workplane.  The workplane is
off screen (it's why the background is blue). 
Now each hinge leaf is split into two bodies, which can be removed from the model using the "Remove" tool.  You'll have to locate the bodies underneath each component.  I've numbered them in the image below.



Hint!  Don't use the delete tool!  It can cause your features to blow up!

But now, with the hinge sized, it can be positioned as needed in its new home!

The hinge is completed!
In conclusion!

Personally, I like how this workflow allowed me to take an assembly, place it, and modify it quickly.  I can cut the hinge down, add holes, all without harming the original. 

I'm particularly pleased with how I can contain the hinge in a single design, and not create three separate files (two parts and an assembly).

I do feel a few pangs of guilt about breaking the link to the parent, since if the parent changes, the hinge derived into this assembly won't be updated.  But for the most part, standard parts such as this don't change often, so I think I can live with that possibility. 

All in all, I think there is much more to be gained with this flexibility!


Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Galvanic Corrosion - Lesson's from Life's Workbench

In the last few months, I've been spending a lot of time reading for my aircraft maintenance class.  I've been through my General text, and I'm halfway through my Electricity book.

These two books are well worn from reading. 
Naturally, that takes away from my time working on things like Inventor and Fusion 360.  So I thought to myself, why not share a few of the lessons from my studies?  It'll help me study, and maybe help out someone else who's trying to learn themselves.

Consider it paying forward!  So every Wednesday, I intend to post a tip on a little something I've learned about design in my studies.

Without further delay, here's a lesson that had faded into the archives of my mind, only to be relearned.

A Life Lesson on Galvanic Corrosion

When two different metals are attached to each other, there can be an electrical potential between the two metals.  One metal will act as an anode, the other will act as a cathode.  If an electrolyte, such as water is added, a chemical reaction known as galvanic (or dissimilar metal) corrosion will occur.

When that happens the anodic material will be eaten away by the cathodic material.  For my tests, I remembered it as the "cat" the one that does the eating.

Galvanic Corrosion between Copper (Cathode) and Iron (Anode)
By Ricardo Maçãs - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,
https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=17645877
Galvanic corrosion can be mitigated by isolating the two materials from each other.  Another solution is to use materials that have similar galvanic potential.  Several charts can be found in textbooks and on the web.  Here's a basic one from Wikipedia.

Just remember to keep the two materials as close as possible!

Yet one more is to attach a third, more anodic material to the assembly.  This sacrificial material will corrode away first, saving the other two.   You can see some good pictures of sacrificial anodes on a ship hull here.

No matter which method is chosen, designing for corrosion is something that can make a difference between a product having a long life, or a painfully short one.

I hope this first little tip is one that helps you out! I'm hoping to post some more soon!



Sunday, October 22, 2017

Using Fusion 360's "Paste New" to create Similar Parts

Before diving into my next post, I wanted to say that I'm glad the solution I shared to fix the broken threads issue in Autodesk Inventor helped so many.  When it first occurred earlier this week, I thought it was just me.  Little did I know that so many others would run into it!

I originally found the issue on the Autodesk Community, so credit where credit is due.  The link to the post where I found the information is in the original post, as well as linked here.

Now, I'm back to a little Fusion 360 work I've been doing.

As part of an ongoing project, I've been slowly building different parts here and there, mostly off of vintage prints from AirCorps Library

One of the challenges I ran into was building a model of a continuous, or piano hinge.  It's based on the AN951 standard, which has since been superseded by the MS20257 standard,

One hinge leaf.  A little examination shows how it's mate has to
vary to mesh correctly.

Modeling the hinge isn't a difficult task, building the individual hinge leaves is easy, but they need to be made to mesh correctly.   That means the hinge knuckles have to be offset, and that's where the knuckles have to be different.


But other than that, everything is the same only the hinge knuckles vary.  So it would be ideal to be able to create a new copy of the existing hinge leaf, and make the appropriate changes. 

It turns out that Fusion 360 has a functionality known as "Paste New", and it's exactly what I needed.  It will create a new, independent copy of first hinge leaf, while leaving the original alone.  That means being able to reuse as much of the design as possible, while only changing what has to be changed.

I started with an assembly with one of the leaves modeled as its own component.  You can see that in the browser..  Now it's time to make the other side of the hinge so it can be changed so it can mesh with its mating hinge leaf.
The browser with the new part modeled
 All that needs to be done is to right click on the existing component and choose "Copy".  It's just a good old Windows Copy.

Copying the part is where it all starts. 
Now move the cursor onto the modeling canvas, right click, and choose "Paste New".  A new, independent, hinge leaf can be placed and positioned. 

Pasting the new copy using the Paste New command
I'd suggest getting the part as positioned in it's "nearly" correct position.  Then you'll be able to make changes to key features, the hinge knuckles in this case.

Positioning the part. You can use the handles, or dialog box.
Now all that's left to do is activate the new copy, modify it so it meshes with the original, and assemble.  And we're off to the races!

There it is!  All done! 

So keep this in mind when you have similar components to build, and modify it for your needs.  It can really help in not recreating extra work!

Thursday, October 12, 2017

I Can't Select Threads in Autodesk Inventor! - An Old Nemesis Rears its Head!

My threads! They don't work! 
Earlier this week, I noticed that I couldn't select threads in my installation of Autodesk Inventor 2015.  Knowing the solution, I shrugged, fixed it, and went about my day. 

I just chalked the incident up to a fluke.  You know, just "one of those things".

If you want to jump straight to the solution, here it is from my post about 3 years ago!  Fix your Inventor! 

But today, I stroll into work, and find out that several of our machines can't place threads, so I spend a chunk of my morning fixing machines, and making videos showing others how to fix their machines.

We'll, it seems there's something more to that.  The word on the street is that a Windows update to Windows 7 and Windows 10 caused the issue. It affects Inventor versions 2016 and earlier.

It makes sense to me!  Too many machines were knocked out at once! 

Thankfully, the fix is easy once you know how! 

Good luck!


Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Expanding My Comfort Zone in a Composites Workshop

This weekend I spent time away from the computer and got my hands sticky at an Experimental Aircraft Association Workshop on composite  construction.

A few of the supplies for our class.
These are the tools of the composites trade.
It was a lot of work, and it took most of my weekend.  But I learned so many things from it.  I learned from the instructor, from my fellow students, and I learned when I a step in my project went right, and I learned more when a step in the project went wrong!

The class started out with the necessary lecture on the basics of what composites were, and the basics of their construction.  That was followed by a description of our first project, a basic layup of a plate.

Several plates curing under vacuum

My finished plate, awaiting trimming.


In that project, we practiced laying up fiberglass over a foam core, carefully smoothing resin over the glass so not to disturb the direction of the weave.  The instructor took time to point out, "the weave is the strength of any composite.  If you disturb it during layup, the strength of the final product can be lost."

A video showing the hot wire method of cutting foam


My finished project
We also made a sample fairing by laying fiberglass over a form.   In involved using modeling clay to make a radius and laying fiberglass over the form.

My form for the fairing.
If you look carefully, you can see the fiberglass on the form.
Each project required finishing and trimming.  We mixed micro-balloons and cotton flock with resin to finish edges and fill voids.

My plate from my previous project.
The edges are filled with a resin mixed with micro-balloons


I even saw forms and clamps that had been 3D printed!  I would have thought the resin would have destroyed the printed plastic, but apparently it holds up just fine!
A 3D printed form for a NACA duct!
Who'd have thought.

Who would have thought that!  I go to learn a little about composites, and end up learning something I didn't know about 3D printing!

So what is the point of all this?  Sure, I could go on and tell you that this class was amazing and turned me into an expert in a matter of days.

But that would be a bold faced lie.  I'm no expert, I know just enough to get started.  My parts are barely even passable.  I wouldn't trust them in a real world application.

My three projects,.  From left to right: the Tee, made from a plate, fiberglass over a foam core
and a fairing made over a form.

But they taught me that I can learn, and I can do better the next time and to go out there and take a step beyond the line that represents the boundary of your comfort zone.  And that was the goal of the class!

And mostly, don't be afraid to try new things!  You never know what you might learn! 

Thursday, October 05, 2017

Great Resource for Designing with O-Rings

Busy times at work and home have kept me from doing much work with Fusion 360, as I've been splitting my time between a couple of long days at work, and doing a little reading on aircraft electricity for an upcoming test.

An example of an O-ring
The rendering was created in Fusion 360
But while I've been busy working and studying, I did have find myself visiting a nice little design aid I've used in the past.

In my past design work, I've had design O-ring grooves, also called, glands.

It wasn't something I did often.  As a matter of fact, it always seemed I had to design a gland right after the information I had learned had faded into the fog of time.

The process I've typically encountered for designing a shaft and bore for an O-ring involved finding the approximate size for the components to be sealed, then selecting an appropriate O-ring, then sizing the shaft, bore, and groove that would work for the design.

All this was done by referencing the design data, adjusting the dimensions, and double checking again.

It wasn't difficult, but it was tedious and time consuming.

The shortcuts to
the tools are on
the homepage

But recently when I revisited a little O-ring design, a lucky Google search led me to a website run by Apple Rubber, a seal supplier in the United States.  The panel on the right of the home page is noteworthy.   It's on that portion of the homepage you'll find the links I took the time to write about.

Apple Rubber has provided some helpful resources to design O-ring geometry, as well as choose the right material for the medium and temperature range the O-ring will operate in.

The biggest thing I used it for was their O-ring Calculator, which helps size O-Ring glands for proper size and compression of the O-Ring.  You can find that link here.

The O-Ring Calculator has provisions for standard and custom O-rings, as well as Imperial and Metric O-Ring sizes. So in short, it covers the situations the typical user will encounter.

But the page doesn't stop at an O-Ring calculator alone, and even if it did, that would be enough.


There's also a Chemical Compatibility Guide, and a Seal Design Guide.  Both of these pages are well worth saving to your browser history!

If you've worked with O-Rings before, you probably know that an O-Ring that will provide a long happy life sealing one fluid may be quickly destroyed in another medium.

The Chemical Guide allows a user to quickly choose a medium that a seal will encounter, and then tells you how materials may be expected to hold up using a "Good/Bad" type of scale.

The Chemical Design Guide using Hydrazine as an example
The Seal Design Guide is a handbook on designing for seals, and it's certainly one of the books I wish I had back when I was in  college

The cover off the Seal Design Guide.
It's available as a PDF!
So give this website a try if you're looking to design, or just want to learn about designing for O-Rings, I'll certainly be using it again myself!

And on that last note, just like my previous post on Coast Fabrication, I'm not getting compensated in any way for sharing this information.  I just like the site enough that I think it's worth sharing!


Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Coast Fabrication - A Great Source for Fastener Information!

A sample of a Hydraulic coupling rendered in Fusion 360
In this post, I'm actually taking a step back from directly talking about a design tool.  Instead, I'm sharing a little info on where I get the information to put my design tools

At work, one of my tasks is creating and maintaining Autodesk Inventor Content of aerospace fasteners.

And trust me, there are a lot of these fasteners around!

They can be referred to as AN (Army/Navy), MS (Mil Spec), NAS or NASM (National Aerospace Standard), and AS (SAE Aerospace).   And I'm sure I've missed a standard or two somewhere! 

That means a lot searching databases, reading charts, and sifting through a lot of tables!  

Of course that begs a big question?  Where can this data be found?  

Admittedly, it can be quite a safari.  I'm fortunate that my place of employment maintains a resource for the data.  

But not all of us have that luxury.  That means a lot of hunting around, trying to find the data we need.  

One resource I found that has been a enormous help has been the technical resource page from Coast Fabrication in Huntington Beach, California

More than once I've used their technical page as a quick reference for a fastener I'm using, sometimes for work but other times for personal use.  

This is just a section of the Coast Fabrication Technical page


The reason I shared this site is because I know that there are many times users need this information.  It might be to create a library of helical inserts for work, or a quick model of a hydraulic fitting for a personal project, this is a sight that is well worth the reference!

Of course, a blog post like this wouldn't be a blog post if I didn't have a disclaimer.  I'm not paid by Coast Fabrication.  I've never even visited their shop even though their only about 10 miles away from me. As a matter of fact, I'm pretty sure they don't even know I exist.  

But that's okay!  They've provided a great resource worthy of sharing, and I'm happy to help Karma return some of their goodwill!  So take a look if you're in the need for fastener specs.