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Previous Featured Engineering Project:

Prototype Spy Glass:

An unusual job popped into our inbox this month to manufacture a high quality prototype spy glass. The design idea was to produce the item in solid brass with the capability to hold a cell, charging point and high lux led lighting in the bezel whilst retaining both an traditional tool feel to the part that gently incorporated the modern twist of the inbuilt lighting. We had to produce the part to a tight schedule as the finished item was already booked at design show in the 'States with only a week to ship- so the pressure was on!

Manufacturing and design issues soon became apparent because many of the parts are of very thin section to reduce the overall weight of the part - to solve the problem we had to finish machine many of the body components (finished turned, milled etc) whilst the part was still attached to the parent billet.

The glass body for example, was rough turned inside and out - then finished turned on the outside diameter. We then removed the half-finished part from the lathe to silver solder the shank (with much pre-heating!) before re-clocking into the lathe for full finish turning.

This also ensured that the body remained perfectly round after the shank was attached.

A close fitting cone was machined to produce a transition from the shank to the glass body, horizontal boring a radius to perfectly match the radius of the mating parts - this also doubled as a 'hide' for the soldered joint.

The bezel hides a deep recess to allow the routing of circuitry on which the led's are attached. All of the screw heads point inwards towards the optic to symbolise focus.

'O' rings are used to secure the optic which sit in tiny profiled grooves that are machined in the bezel backing plate and into the body. The handle was hollowed out with a micrometer style shroud to provide strength - we even manufactured the electrical recharging contact body to match the item.

We initially applied a high polish finish to the finished part, but before packing for the customer we decided to try a satin finish. We carefully used a scotch pad to brush the surface - which transformed the material, leaving a lovely look which will get even better with age.

ICFF AWARDS 2012 Articles from the New York Design Award 2012, featuring 'Tools for everyday life', with articles on the spy glass and several other projects that we've been lucky enough to be involved in. Very fine work from the designers in residence, Northumbria University, Newcastle-upon-Tyne.
Component was featured on the website home page (May 2012).


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