APM combines the atmosphere of an original 19th century water-powered manufacturing facility with a world-class collection of historic machines. It explores industrial history in the context of innovation, creative problem solving, and the impact of precision manufacturing on American history and culture.
The APM factory in Windsor, Vermont, was first powered by a great water wheel, located in the basement, which drove a drum that carried belts up through the ceiling to the overhead line shafts on the factory floor. Those shafts turned smaller belts that powered the machines. APM is partnering with Mastercam to recreate a waterwheel to have on display in the museum demonstrating how running water was turned into power to drive the building.
The Applications Engineers at CNC Software, Inc. designed a functional scaled-down version of the original water wheel found at APM. To keep it as realistic as possible, the model design was inspired by a 2009 study of the original factory and wheel. The assembly was designed in Mastercam for Solidworks and programmed and machined using Mastercam. Most of the assembly is made from ¾” prefinished plywood and was machined down on a 3-axis router.
The mechanical components are aluminum and steel and machined on a Haas VF2 CNC, taking waterwheel power into the 21st century. The scaled-down version has a working drive gear assembly, and for display purposes is not powered by water but instead uses a small pellet stove gear motor.
Steve Dalessio, executive director of APM, said, “Using advanced manufacturing methods to recreate an 1846 device is a great way for us to demonstrate how manufacturing continues to evolve. We’re so grateful to Mastercam for creating this model for us, because our education program will be able to use the exhibit to link science, history, and manufacturing.” The new display will be unveiled for Manufacturing Day 2020.
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