Who Doesn’t Love a Field Trip? – JetSet Explores the World of Springs- Anjali Mani

Everyone remembers the days of piling into a bright yellow school bus, destined for the museum or a park for a day away from classes. My team, JetSet, had the opportunity to relive those childhood memories, but instead, we left campus in Erin’s car to embark on a voyage to Home Depot.

Erin Simons is driving JetSet to Home Depot for a field trip to find materials for prototyping.
Erin Simons is driving JetSet to Home Depot for a field trip to find materials for prototyping.

As I recently converted to the Biomedical pathway, Isha and I have been in charge of ordering most of the materials. After a few days of scouring the lab for anything with a spring and then testing its force, we decided to use torsion springs for our design to allow for a space efficient and more secure way to provide resistance. Torsion springs are surprisingly hard to find, much to our chagrin. Isha and I searched for different springs on various hardware websites (http://www.homedepot.com/ and , http://www.grainger.com/) but as a team, we decided it would be better to see the springs in person to get a better idea of their strength and size in relation to our current design.

So JetSet, took on Home Depot, in our plaid skirts and knee socks. I was personally surprised by the lack of springs at Home Depot in general, so we ended up with several options that were different from what we had originally considered. We purchased four small hand clamps that had torsion springs in them that could be dismantled for the spring, or incorporated into the prototype or final design. One of my concerns with the clamps is the angle at which they force the foot, which is significantly higher than the average height we had previously determined. In case that didn’t work out, I found a set of standard compression (push down) springs with 22 and 44 lbs of pressure that could work in a similar way, but were less height dependent.

Finding those products only took us a half hour, but it felt like a waste to journey on a one aisle stop, so we explored for a bit. I learned several things at Home Depot:

  • The majority of the Home Depot’s clientele are not in fact eighteen year old girls.
  • Home Depot’s employees are very helpful and kind, although they are also often wrong.
  • 44 lbs of pressure on a spring is actually quite extensive
  • Isha likes hatchets.

Isha and a Hatchet

We decided to go through the list of everything we would need to create a successful prototype and realized that we had already ordered most of the supplies that we would need. Luckily, Annalise remembered that we might need a dowel of some sort, partially depending on the exact spring that we use, but it seemed like a good idea to invest in a basic part to allow for some variation when it comes to actually making the prototype (which I am really looking forward to). After considerable debate between thin metal and wooden dowels, we went with the wooden dowels as they are cheaper and a more manageable option.

Overall, JetSet’s adventure at Home Depot was both fun and productive. We have officially commandeered all of our supplies that we need for prototyping. Our next step will be to physically build our prototype and present that prototype to a panel of professionals!

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