The Emergency Stop switch on the right side of the Othermill is a critical component. Although we hope our users don’t need to resort to it very often, its ability to immediately halt all motion inside the mill can be extremely useful, especially when experimenting or attempting a heavy cut through metal.
As Owen, another member of OMC’s Hardware Team, explained in another blog post, we constantly improve our assembly process in order to get Othermills out the door more quickly. Installing the E-Stop switch can be challenging. Because it’s housed under a flange in the bent sheet metal underside enclosure, we have limited access to it. It’s also difficult to grip the switch’s nut.
The E-Stop’s location in the underside enclosure. It’s hard to get to!
Therefore, I set out to design an assembly “jig” or hand tool that will make the E-Stop easier to grip and tighten. After design and initial prototyping, our Hardware Lead, Sam Prest, helped me fabricate the final tools on one of our in-house Othermills.
We settled on a red Teflon material for the tool, since it machines nicely and has good mechanical properties. Sam hot glued a Birch Plywood Blank to the t-slot bed, then milled a 1" diameter hole so we could press the stock in place. This setup made it easy to flip the part over for backside machining.
Starting with a Flat 1/8” End Mill, Sam milled out the center profile.
It looked great!
Next, he milled the pockets that grab the nut with a Flat 1/32” End Mill.
It looked great!
We then flipped the tool upside down and used the Flat 1/8” End Mill again, this time to mill some flats around the outside for easy gripping.
And it works great!
After milling another tool, we had quite a mess to clean up.
In the future, I’d like to cut this tool out of aluminum on the Othermill, so it can better survive the stresses of the assembly environment. I’d also like to adapt the backside of the tool to attach to a ratcheting tool, like a socket wrench, to make installation even quicker and more ergonomic. But even this one prototype improves the way we build Othermills.
Thanks for reading this edition of Factory Friday. Stay tuned for more stories of how we optimize our assembly process with tools and jigs.