VIDEO: A peek inside the McLaughlin Hall Machine Shop

Posted on May 26, 2017

Queen's mechanical engineering students Nick Cottee and Ian Donaldson provide a guided tour of some of the tools and facilities inside the McLaughlin Hall machine shop.

More information on The McLaughlin Hall Machine Shop and the Department of Mechanical and Materials Engineering.

  • Video transcript:

    The first machine we'll be looking at is the CNC operated lathe. Now this can be operated either by hand or by computer program. So generally we'd use a machine like this to make any spacers that we need or any really cylindrical objects. It's limited to those two axes. For anything else we'll be using other machines which we're going to see later in the tour.

    We can get this to very, very fine tolerances. We machine to within half a thousandth of an inch when we're using this machine.

    So this is one of the more impressive machines that we have here at Queen's. This is a three axis mill. It's also CNC programmable. We do all of our programming in the computer lab behind us.

    Right now we're actually making a rocker, which is a piece of our suspension. We need two of them, and we're midway through the first part here. Just like the lathe, we can get to very, very fine tolerances with this - almost finer. This bearing bores to within a tenth of a thousandth of an inch. Because it's only three axis, oftentimes we have to move our part around to get at different areas. So we'll have to flip it on its side, or flip it on its end.

    This particular part is fairly complicated and will need four. For simpler parts it's a lot easier to use a manual mill such as this. It has exactly the same accuracy as the other, computer-controlled ones. However, it is completely manually operated with dials. This is a great introductory machine for a lot of our rookies because it's simpler and it allows them to get some good, hands-on experience machining without as much of the complexity that the computer machines have.

    We have, the crown jewel of the shop. This is called the VF3. Very much like the CNC we showed you two machines ago this has basically all the same capabilities but it's a lot more powerful. This is great for very large-scale milling operations. On this type of thing we would make body panels.

    Over here we have a manual lathe, which is exactly like the other computer lathe we were talking about earlier. But, just like the manual mill, this is great for introducing new members to machining. It's very simple, very precise as the other machines are. However, there's no computer aid with this. It's all manual in terms of the dials. And it's very good to teach someone the first fundamentals of machining. This is actually the machine that we both started on, in our rookie years, respectively. So this holds a lot of value.

    Now the most expensive machine in the shop is the WaterJet. We use this to take a sheet metal component and turn it into any different geometry that we want. For example, we have these suspension tabs for our Formula car. The WaterJet is really useful with that, because we just give it a geometry and it spits out exactly what we need.

    Here is one of the more dangerous machines in the shop. This is called the iron worker. We use this to hand-form some of our tabs and different sheet metal components. So we'll put it in, we'll take our hands away, and press 'go' and it'll shear off a big chunk of whatever metal we're working with.

    Over here we have our pretty new metal shear. Basically we get stock in from our metal suppliers that's usually in four foot by eight foot or very large pieces of metal stock. This is a very effective way of reducing stock size, so that we can put it on other machines, to be machined.

    So this is probably the newest piece of machinery in the shop. This is called the plasma cutter. It works on the same principle as the WaterJet, in that you're drawing a 2D profile in a sheet or piece of plate. It's a little bit less accurate than the WaterJet, but it takes a lot less time. So for jobs where efficiency is really important, this stands out for us.

    So here's our welding area. This is where our frame gets welded for the first time. This is where all the tubes come together. It just came off the table a couple weeks ago. This is where a lot of people learn how to weld. If you come through the mechanical engineering program, everyone in this program gets the chance to weld at least once.

    This really gives new mechanical engineering students a great sense of what is possible, and what is practical