A concept for a material handling device. This project involved an incredible variety of disciplines. It involved the creation of a small and medium-size prototype and a provisional patent.
I used to work for a material handling company called Bulk Handling Systems. We integrated many "vibe pans" in our facilities as a means of providing and even material spread to a sorting machine. These machines are typically expensive, large, and transit an incredible amount of vibrational energy into the structure that supports them.
One weekend, I had the idea to for a leaf spring with 2 distict spring systems and an isolated mount point that could be manufactured from a single sheet of material. I ran some basic calulations and quickly 3d-printed a small-scale prototype. It was far too flimsy. I iterated on the idea 3 more times, and to my surprise, the 4th prototype worked perfectly.
At this point I believed I could have something revolutionary. I designed a medium scale prototype based on my calculations. This prototype involved a plasma-cut piece of 3/16" sheet steel and an industrial vibe motor. I then wired and programmed an Arduino Nano to run the motor and read the system's frequency with an accelerometer. It worked perfectly. Then I created a provisional patent so I could shop the idea around to companies without the expense of creating a full utility patent
I pitch the idea to a prospective manufacturer. They were very interested, and assigned me a small team of people to work on the idea with. After a few weeks of work, we realized that benefits of the design would be offset by manufacturing costs necessary to allow the leaf spring to withstand the high-stress cyclic loading required by the design.
I would like to pursue the idea further, but at this point, the provisional patent application has expired, and I don't have the resources to make a full-scale prototype for further testing