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Kingston Hot Press: Process Improvements

3,067 bytes added, 10:50, 16 April 2010
Conclusions and Recommendations
=Conclusions and Recommendations=
 
The preliminary heat transfer analysis shows that there is little to no difference between a 1/4" aluminum plate, and a steel plate. A refinement of the model is required to account for the overheating marks observed during production of tiles with the 1/4" steel plate. A transient model may be required to account for this behaviour.
 
Empirically it has been shown that a 1/2" aluminum plate does remove the unwanted overheating and underheating, however this solution is very expensive. While the development of a model can eventually provide further understanding of the current design, it is recommended that given an available budget, an empirical study is done in parallel which tests the performance of a steel 1/2" plate which could provide major cost reductions for the overall system. An array of high temperature/pressure thermistors could also provide an empirical measure of the temperature distribution and gradients across the plate.
 
During the development of the model and visual production guide, several other potential areas of development were identified for future design work. Currently, the user must use a short and un-ergonomic lever to actuate the hyrdaulic piston which provides the clamping pressure for the system. The Hot Press frame currently makes the use of a longer lever impractical. The design of a lever system which can circumvent the frame while allowing the user to ergonomically actuate the piston would provide a much needed solution to a problem which currently has been ignored at significant cost to the user. If this device is to be used regularly, the current system would be very difficult to operate for prolonged periods of time.
 
Mineral wool has been used to cover the strip heaters to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the heat delivery system. Although this material is very effective, it is unclear what the availability of this material is throughout the communities the WFL team is collaborating with. Furthermore, the models developed in this analysis showed that significant radiative heat loss occured due to the dark steel weldments. A deeper investigation into the potential opportunities for improved insulation throughout the system design, with considerations for locally available materials, could prove very fruitful considering the WFL's interest in investigating other energy sources such as gas (where a fuel tank would limit supply more profoundly then a grid-tied system).
 
The release material currently used to prevent bonding between the tile and film products and the thin steel sheets is a high quality composite (teflon and a metallic substance) that has a seemingly short shelf-life (based on the quality of some of the older release sheets seen in the lab). The procurement of such materials on a regular basis presents a serious hurdle to potential users of this technology. An investigation of potential natural oils or waxes that could provide the same function of releasing the product post-pressing would be a worthwhile and fascinating application of green chemistry.
=Future Work=
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