Problem Statement

The Strip Cutter Prefeeder is the best solution to a problem that Thomco Specialty Products,
Inc. is having with producing strips of tape cut from large rolls of tape. The problem lies in the
motor that the strip cutter uses to pull material into the machine before cutting it. The current
system is using a small servo motor not powerful enough to pull multiple large rolls of specialty
tapes. The goal of this project is to produce some slack in the material coming off the rolls before
the machine attempts to pull it into the machine and cut the strips of tape. The new system will
be designed and implemented for Thomco’s needs. The new system will be able to accommodate
multiple rolls of material so that the strip cutter operates at peak efficiency cutting as many strips
of tape as it can with each cut.
This is a system that has not been designed or built, as it does not fit the needs of many
companies, but does fit the needs of some and will fit the needs of Team Thomco’s customer.
The machine that we will be building will be a custom machine to fit Thomco’s needs, but could
be implemented by many other companies operating pieces of machinery which require you to
manually insert slack into the system before the motor pulls on the material from the roll. The
strip cutter is a standard piece of equipment that any company can buy off the shelf so perhaps
there are other companies with the same strip cutter that would be interested in a prefeeder.
The customer wants to operate their machine at peak efficiency without the dedicated
attention of an operator performing menial tasks such as producing slack in the material coming
off the roll. The customer would also like to be able to cut as many strips of tape with one cut as
will fit into the machine. For instance if the machine is 8 inches wide and you are trying to cut
strips of material that is 1 inch wide you would like to be able to cut 6 or 7 strips with every
stroke of the guillotine blade. In order to do this 6 or 7 rolls of material must be feed through the
machine at a time, something the strip cutter motor is not cut out to do.
The design of the Strip Cutter Prefeeder should include a system that allows the operator to
easily load many different types of material onto the machine quickly and easily. It should also
be a system that accommodates material as wide as the guillotine blade. Furthermore, the system
should be able to monitor the amount of slack coming off the roll and turn on the motor when
necessary as well as turn off the motor when necessary. Finally the system should take up no
more room than is necessary on the production floor to keep from wasting space.
The project will be a success when Team Thomco is able to implement a system that Thomco
can use making their strip cutter run with less attention and greater ease. The project will need to
come in at or below budget. The machine will be designed to save Thomco money in the long
run by creating a more efficient and autonomous machine. It is only appropriate that the machine
is designed to meet the customer’s needs while keeping the cost as low as possible.
The overall goal of the project is to make Thomco’s strip cutting business more efficient.
Team Thomco can do this by designing and building a machine that prefeeds material from rolls
into the strip cutter. The machine must be loaded easily and operate nearly autonomously. Team
Thomco will test this machine’s performance upon completion of the build.