A keystone project from my time at Belimo. I worked with a small team of engineers to create a new fire and smoke damper actuator customized for the US market. Building off of the success of the FSNF, which I had completed the year before, we set out to make a less expensive version by creating a new design from scratch instead of basing it on an existing platform.
A damper actuator is a device for use in HVAC (heating ventilation and air-conditioning) systems. Basically, it is a geartrain and motor, with electronics and software, that regulates airflow by opening and closing the damper.
A fire and smoke actuator is designed to close automaticlly in the event of a fire, and to be able to be reopened by fire responders in order to vent smoke from a room. A fire and smoke actuator must be able to function in high temperatures.
I worked with electrical and software engineers, plus two mechanical designers and a project manager to create the new actuator. Our goals were a smaller (lower torque, smaller package) actuator at lower cost, that met the tough requirements of US fire and smoke regulations.
Throughout the design process, besides working with my engineering team, I also met regularly with product management, purchasing (supply chain), and manufacturing. Plus outside vendors and regulators.
Beginning from scratch meant freedom to create a custom geartrain solution specific to the design requirements. Using in-house design software, I simulated the geartrain. I balanced the 1. specified torque output, 2. powerspring torque 3. electric motor power and drag. Each element of the system affected the others and so demanded a holistic approach.
I designed prototypes for testing and worked with our prototyping lab to manufacture them. Then tested each solution. Testing involved both a high-temperature test as well as room temperature lifetime testing. I designed and ran all of the tests.
Concurrently, I redesigned the housing, finding ways to reduce both part costs and labor costs.
In the process I developed several novel solutions for reducing cost and improving performance.
Gear and geartrain design
Plastic injection molding
Electronic components and PCB
Design for manufactuability
High temperature design