Engineers Without Borders

Sigma Design Company has been working on water products and systems for almost 20 years. Whether it is Ballast Water Treatment Testing or the design of Complex Marine Systems, Sigma has emerged as the ‘go-to’ expert on all types of water-related systems. Sigma has provided technical engineering support to Catholic Relief Service (CRS) for 15 years, with clean water projects in Guatemala, Kenya, and the Philippines.

When Fordham University’s chapter of Engineers Without Borders (EWB)was looking for

 technical mentors, it was Sigma’s expertise in navigating water projects around the globe that made us a good fit. “Engineers Without Borders USA believes in the power of engineering to change lives. Clean water. Reliable energy. Safe access. These are gifts that truly keep on giving.” To learn more please visit the EWB website.

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Three years into our involvement with this impressive group of students, we have been surprised that many industry professionals do not know about EWB. There are nearly 300 chapters throughout the U.S., with each group committed to using their technical skills to improve the lives of others. The projects have been described by the students as ‘life changing’ and have made for some very interesting job interviews.

At a recent meeting at Fordham, graduates who started the EWB program returned to share their stories about how prospective employers were impressed by their involvement in this challenging venture. Check out the Fordham chapter here.

The Fordham EWB project was to design and develop a cooperative fish pond for a community in Uganda. This project is student-driven, with the mentors’ input as advisors in the design process.  After getting EWB approval for the project, the team visited thirty-four fish farming sites in the surrounding area to assess the successes and failures of each venture. Land surveys and assessments of water supply were conducted to determine a suitable site for the first fish pond. Take a look!

The team is preparing for its third working trip in 2018.

Our collaboration as technical mentors has been extremely rewarding and we are grateful for the opportunity to work with EWB!  

 

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Make it Better and Improve Performance!

Dymax Corporation, located in Torrington, CT, is a leading manufacturer of advanced light-curable adhesives, coatings, oligomers, light-curing equipment, and fluid dispensing systems that work together to optimize manufacturing assembly processes.  Dymax came to Sigma Design Company to improve their WIDECURE® conveyor system. WIDECURE is a 25″ wide UV curing system with 700 mW/cm² of curing power. This system is typically used in industrial plants for the curing of adhesives during the assembly of aerospace, electronic and automotive components.  Dymax Corporation is well known for making manufactures more efficient and need to update the design of the WIDECURE with additional safety and performance features. Dymax presented Sigma with a solid and dependable machine, but a machine that lacked the features needed by its industrial customers and users. Learn more about Dymax here.

Sigma took their original prototypes and examined every single nut and bolt to do a complete redesign of the original machine. Aside from adding a number of safety and performance features to the system, Sigma greatly improved the user interface of the unit and overall quality and reliability of the system. The WIDECURE is aesthetically more pleasing and a truly gorgeous machine. Operators will be very pleased with its new ergonomic design and low level machine noise. Sigma’s new design also includes provisions for lifting and transporting the machine in a safer manner. WATCH VIDEO HERE!

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Dymax WIDECURE conveyor system at Sigma Design Company facility.

Sigma engineered several important features, making the new WIDECURE system a real state of the art unit. The control scheme of the machine was redesigned to be category 3 safety compliant.  Our engineers added an Allen Bradley PLC and HMI (Programmable Logic Controller and Human Machine Interface), and an open loop stepper system to smoothly lift and lower the UV lamp assembly.  Sigma turned a dependable machine into a world class system allowing the customer to better meet the needs of the industrial marketplace.

Contact Sigma Design Company about how we can improve your designs! 

Full “STEAM” Ahead

We are all familiar with STEM but what is STEAM?  “STEAM” takes the standard STEM formulation (science, technology, engineering, and math) and adds an A for arts. The movement, led by Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) encourages the integration of Art + Design in K-20 education.

It is not about teaching art as a separate discipline but exploring where art naturally fits. Proponents of STEAM suggest we can be better engineers by learning how to think creatively through challenging design projects, like this one.   

Our design team at SIGMA became part of a RISD graduate’s studio in a recent fabrication project combining art and engineering. Rebecca Manson, an artist specializing in ceramics, was creating an eight foot diameter sphere made of thousands of small porcelain parts. Ms. Manson describes the piece as…”a look underneath our skin at the enduring structure that all humans share”. By recalling what is known as the ‘Overview Effect’;.. “the principal that when one sees the earth from space, feelings of deep love and concern for the planet reportedly wash over them…” the sphere represents a memorial to the planet earth. This stunning ‘union of bones’ created with paint over glaze over pigmented clay results in layers of color that change with light, angle and personal perspective. Only a very talented engineering and fabrication team would be able to make this project a reality.

Fortunately, the artist found SIGMA Design.

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Howard Mikuylak working on the sphere

The giant, extremely fragile sphere had to be constructed in a mold, one half at a time.  SIGMA’s challenge was to construct the internal structural framework, which would support and align the sphere to rotate about its vertical axis.  Solid knowledge of geometry, strength of materials, and adhesives was required. Testing was done on the materials and their flexibility under various conditions and temperatures. Too much rigidity in the structure or adhesives would have caused the structure to break.

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Sigma Design’s Max Burns and Bruce Knapp working on the 1/2 sphere

When the first half was delivered in its ‘nest’ a rope ladder was constructed to allow work on the internal structure without stepping on the delicate ceramic shell. When the internal structure was done and secured into the shell, it was time to release the shell from the ‘nest’.

If you have ever tried to turn a warm cake out of a pan, hoping it would come out in one piece without breaking, you might understand our anxiety as we carefully turned over the nest. Would this giant sculpture come crashing out destroying months of work on the ceramic pieces? Would it require a bit of coaxing, tapping, and gravity, like that cake? 

We held our breaths, turned it over, and, well- it was stuck! Twelve hours later we had the sculpture safely out of the nested mold, which then returned to the artist’s studio for the creation of the second half.

Rebecca’s team got to work and weeks later we had the second half back in our shop. Upon delivery of the ‘northern hemisphere’, SIGMA got to work on joining the halves, and installing the pedestal.

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The finished product! (Sphere #2, 2016)

Throughout the project, SIGMA’s ability to support the artist’s vision while working within the realities of math and physics was a unique challenge. The idea that STEAM education might make these types of collaborations happen more often is very exciting to us.

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Rebecca Manson & the Sigma Design Team

Interested in Contributing to US Manufacturing?

More than 100 years after the first Labor Day celebration, there is still a debate over who first proposed a day to celebrate the American worker. Was it the carpenter from New York or the machinist from New Jersey? The New Yorker suggested a day to honor those “who from rude nature have delved and carved all the grandeur we behold.” (Link here) Despite the eloquence of the carpenter, this NJ company votes for the machinist. Either way, both sought to recognize the American worker and the dignity of labor.

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As we celebrate Labor Day 2016, we can’t ignore its partner every September—‘Back to School’.   And we wonder, who will teach the next generation of manufacturers? Tech schools and community colleges are partnering with local manufacturers like Sigma Design Company to give the next generation of workers the technical education and chance to start a manufacturing career in NJ. We recognize that seasoned machinists and other manufacturing tradesmen are also an integral part in this education process.

For senior workers, there might be a desire to slow down but not stop working altogether. Studs Terkel, the author of “Working”, writes “Work is about a search for daily meaning as well as daily bread, for recognition as well as cash…….” We think working with inventers and designers, and manufacturing right here in NJ can provide immeasurable satisfaction—and some cash.

We do honest work that leads to the creation of tangible products. As most of our work is custom and requires a multitude of talents, we’ve found that there is nothing that a group of skilled workers cannot figure out! It is that complement of training, age, and experience that makes our projects successful. We are offering experienced tradesmen an opportunity to teach their craft to the next generation of American manufacturers. If you or someone you know would like to join us, call 732-629-7555 or email Jerry Lynch at info@sigmadesign.net !

Where’d You Earn Your Stripes?

It’s hard to talk about going down to New Orleans without mentioning oysters, po’boys and beignets. But food had to take a back seat during a recent trip to the Big Easy where over 40 McDermott International employees gathered for a reunion. A street car to the Garden District brought us to Bruno’s Tavern to meet with the men who designed, fabricated, and constructed some of the largest marine equipment in the world during the 80’s & 90’s. These projects sent us to Singapore, Spain, Dubai, and our favorite assignment, the south of France. A typical project would require 18 hour days with an occasional day off with this new ‘family’ of expats. The work required supervising large groups of machinists, welders, riggers, and electricians with the task of building monstrous-sized cranes, installing deep sea platforms, and laying hundreds of miles of deep sea gas and crude pipelines.McDermott DB 101The bonds formed living and working together years ago were evident as each person shared stories from then and now. A recurring theme heard throughout the day was about the novice sent into the field, some as young as 22, without any real experience or preparation for the work and responsibility for which they were hired.   They credited McDermott International, originally headquartered in New Orleans, for hiring the right people, giving you a job to do and the tools that were needed to do it, and then just leaving you alone.   You were hired for your ability to work smartly and independently.

These experiences, particularly the offshore projects created the foundation that makes Sigma Design Company able to handle today’s challenging engineering projects. What an adventure it was! It was so great to see everyone! Thanks to Mike McIntosh, Rich Lockwood and Richard Smith for bringing so many of us together.

 

Contact Us With Your Project Needs!

sigmapicSince 1999, we have been trusted by hundreds of manufacturing firms for our engineering and manufacturing services and would love to transform your smart ideas into successful products and machinery. Please give us a call or e-mail us about the projects you are currently working on!  http://www.sigmadesign.net/contact/

New Venture Group Taps Into Sigma’s Alternative Energy Experience to Develop a State of the Art, Run of River, Hydrokinetic Electric Generator

A great example of innovation from a few years back. Sigma was approached by a Boston venture group who needed to develop a pilot renewable energy hydrokinetic electrical power generator system. It was a pivotal milestone for the ventures funding and they needed this fully submerged run of river device in the water and producing electrical energy in 6 months from our first meeting.

In addition to the accelerated timeline, the project provided us with several other challenges. Most notably being the power generating electronics, hydrodynamic balancing, and marine submersion anti-fouling prevention. In the end we were successful in that the system was designed, manufactured and installed. In fact we understand that it is still running deep in the Mississippi River north of New Orleans.

Sigma Design led the Development, Manufacturing and Testing. Development Partners: Turbo Solutions, VT and AEC, NY.

Contact Us with Your Project Needs

CHECK OUT SIGMA AT WORK!