Force Testing Gantry for Apple Computer

The Gantry Explained

The Challenge: Design a support structure for a miniature Instron force testing machine to aid in characterizing the feel of Apple's portable computer keyboards.

Technical Approach: This was my first experience designing a product for use by others and to be manufactured by others. Work began by establishing the range of motion needed to provide the Instron access to every key on a 17" notebook (the largest in Apple's product line.) With these figures as a guideline, I used Unigraphics to design a support gantry which could be positioned in two directions. Frequent collaboration with Apple's model shop ensured that my design used in-stock material and was easily manufacturable.

Selected Design Features: The force testing machine is rigidly mounted to a delrin carriage which slides on a hard-anodized aluminum rail. Once an appropriate position is achieved, the carriage is clamped to the rail by a thumb screw passing thru a slot in the rail. The height of the machine is also adjustable by sliding the rail up or down on two aluminum posts.