Parallax Insider News

See Our Propeller Controlled Ventilation System

  • By: Parallax Insider Published: 10 September, 2013 0 comments

At Parallax we try to incorporate our products into many of our manufacturing processes. We often create custom testing jigs for our products using our own development boards. Another example of using our own products in-house is our Laser Room Ventilation Control System.

We have two industrial laser cutters - one has a 24 x 36" bed, while the other is a 36 x 48" monster.  We use both to cut many different products and kit parts, such as our ELEV-8 landing gear.Laser cutters produce fumes that must be extracted from the building, so we've installed a high powered "cyclone" style air handler to vent our small, confined Laser Room.  Since there are many times that we only need to operate one laser at a time, we decided to put together a custom ventilation control system, using our own electronics.

Currently, the system is controlled by several switches in "override condition". The Propeller Board of Education (BOE) monitors sensor inputs and displays (on the LED bar graph) the amount of negative pressure in the main duct for our Epilog Laser system. We used the pressure sensor that was included in the National microMedic contest kit from earlier this year.

The project is connected to the internal controls of each of the Laser systems.  If the cyclone were to fail, the system will send the appropriate signal to the Laser Controller, and puts it into a "Pause" state.

This is important for a couple reasons:

  • First, if we lose suction, the room would fill up with fumes posing a health hazard.
  • Secondly, the suction effect is used to pull the raw material down flat to the honey-combed cutting platform.  It's important for the material to be as flat as possible because the laser must be focused at a particular distance from the source to the material being cut.  If it's not at the right distance, the laser will cut a "wide" kerf, resulting in a poor quality cut and a lot more fume production.
  • Thirdly, when the Propeller BOE detects there is sufficient vacuum, it indicates that it's ok to begin cutting and that the fumes will be extracted from the building (and contained within a fume collector outside the building).

We still have some mechanical work to do in the laser room and hope to implement an “automatic” shutdown capability in future, but we’re very pleased so far with how the system is functioning. We’ve been able safely vent fumes from the laser cutter while optimizing our cutting, resulting in less scrapping of material.