You may not have seen him as he works behind the scenes, but for the last several months we have enjoyed welcoming Ashley Yu, our Product Design Intern here at OmniDynamics, who has been spearheading our research and product development. Read on to find out what it’s like working in the Bristol Robotics Lab (BRL), and why he chose OmniDynamics for his year in industry…
What is it like working in the Bristol Robotics lab?
In the Bristol Robotics lab, the atmosphere is relatively quiet, but that is only because the people are dedicated and very focused on making sure their passion for robotics and engineering help shape the future in this field. Aside from OmniDynamics, there are many other start-up companies such as Altitude Tech, and Tegru Ltd, who add to the positive feeling inside the lab through their charisma and enthusiasm.
Although all robotics work is sometimes sporadic and challenging because we are innovating and creating completely new technologies, I was quickly made comfortable working here with my fellow colleagues at OmniDynamics, who are always friendly and welcoming.
What do you do at OmniDynamics?
My role as a Product Design Intern involves using my Mechanical Engineering knowledge gained from my years at University to oversee projects that involve designing and developing machines that produce bespoke engineering components, like 3D filament.
My Re-Strooder project involves taking an original prototype built by my colleagues and developing it through engineering analysis: looking into the size and power of the teeth needed for optimum performance, as well as considering the economics, like if the parts required are cheap enough to be manufactured or bought from suppliers, and its overall impact on the environment.
I also work on developing product safety for customer use, by ensuring that the Re-Strooder can be used without endangering people. This has meant developing the use of LEDs to indicate when the interior can be safely accessed: green to show that they can be pulled out and red to show otherwise.
I’m particularly proud of my idea of using a link mechanism to connect the top lid, below the cutting wheels to shred the plastic, and the drawers – so that when the lid is closed while the plastic is being cut, both the cutting area and the drawers cannot be accessed. I then have sourced the parts from various suppliers before they are validated to build a prototype Re-Strooder for testing and if successful, into production.
What does OmniDynamics mean to you?
OmniDynamics is helping to change the way 3D printing and robotics is perceived by many across the world. 3D printing is already known to be an economically viable option of manufacturing objects that are strong and light. Here at OmniDynamics, we aim to take it to the next level by ensuring all 3D prints are made with minimal waste as well as prioritising safety for customers, above anything else.
They care about their people and the environment to the point whereby attention to detail and regular discussion is key in helping the company thrive by getting the best people behind it, and in turn contributing to a world that is changing for the better.
Why did you want to spend your year in industry working at OmniDynamics?
I wanted to spend my year in industry at OmniDynamics to give myself the opportunity of being able to work with young and experienced minds who have graduated with a degree in Robotics, to gain valuable knowledge which will stand me in good stead for when I return to University to complete my studies.
I also wanted to contribute and build on the fantastic work that the company has done since its founding a few years ago to help turn the start-up company into one that becomes a full-time professional institution, well known to many around the world. In return for gaining knowledge from my colleagues, I have also passed on my knowledge in Mechanical Engineering to them – it’s a collaborative process.
What has surprised you most about working at OmniDynamics?
The number of people who have worked at the company who have been snapped up by global companies! There have been times when I was left to work independently as the other team members had important business meetings in other areas of the BRL or around the country, and during those times I must solve problems by myself and come up with my own work that proves useful for the company, such as research into robotics, what is happening in this field at present, and will be in the future.
What is your favourite thing about working for OmniDynamics?
Being given challenging projects and a huge amount of responsibility in overseeing them. For example, the Re-Strooder project was pre-dominantly my project as my colleagues are concentrating on the production and delivery of the Strooder. They encouraged me to take ownership of the project myself, and update them on my work regularly by doing presentations at meetings.
Having full responsibility over this was challenging but something I relished, as I aimed to put my ideas for the Re-Strooder into practise. I used Autodesk Fusion 360 in designing and developing the product by analysing the design, which determined the components that needed to be made in CAD and therefore the size of the product. I also gave it a more realistic look by adding materials and rendering it in different conditions to see what it would look like in real life. It’s incredibly satisfying to look at the final prototype and know that much of it is my design.
Want to learn more about the Re-Strooder, and why reducing plastic is so important to us here at OmniDynamics? Click here for the second part of this blog!