P19433: Plastic Bottle Chip Melter

Gate Reviews

Table of Contents

Gate Review Date: Friday 12/14/18 at 2pm.

MSD I: Readiness to move to Build & Test

The team completed a self-critique evaluation to review how the team worked together and accomplished tasks. The results can be found here

Current State of the Project: Status Review

The team is currently between the “yellow” and “red” categorizes. The team understands the MSD I requirements have not been fully met at this time, but have identified the major roadblocks and have created a detailed plan for the remaining of the semester and the first two weeks of MSD II.

During the DDR Phase, the team met with plastic experts from Pretium Packaging that strongly advised against using PET with the proposed design and process due to its physical properties and the team’s budget. After the DDR, the team, customers, and guide concluded that switching from PET to HDPE, creating a smaller mold, and purchasing new heaters is the best option for the project since it has the lowest overall risk.

HDPE is found in El Sauce, and has properties that better suit the current plastic melter design. The team is working to reduce the size of the new molds since the new goal is to prove the concept. A smaller mold would reduce the cost of materials and should allow for more uniform compression with the jack. The team re-submitted the new budget with adjusted costs to Dr. DeBartolo/MSD on 12/11/18.

This is the new smaller mold model

This is the new smaller mold model

Current BOM

Current BOM

Current Project Plan vs. Original Project Plan

Due to roadblocks encountered throughout the semester, the current project plan/schedule has changed several times since the original plan. The original scope of the project was to melt PET chips to create a usable product and business for locals in El Sauce, Nicaragua. The current scope of the project is to prove the proposed process will melt HDPE using a modified version of P18433 team’s melter.

The schedule has been delayed since the current heaters on the melter do not reach desired temperatures and because of the difficulty to work with the properties of PET. The team is currently behind schedule since all designs for the device are not finalized. Before the end of MSD I, the team would like to have an updated BOM that includes a smaller mold, new heaters, and material for the ventilation enclosure. The team also plans to finalize placement of the jack and relevant design components to prepare for the redesign of the melter at the beginning of MSD II.

The team struggled with the roadblocks since they put a hold on several other aspects of the project. The biggest issue the team has encountered has been the limited budget, there is not enough funds in the budget to purchase new heaters currently. The team has learned that even with delays, there are always other problems that can be worked on and solved in the meantime. One setback in the project cannot delay the entire project or no progress would be made, resulting in the team being even further behind schedule.

Current Risk Assessment vs. Original Risk Assessment

During Phase 1, the team had several important risks that related to the team’s budget, safety factors of the melter, technical aspects of the design, and the potential societal impacts the melter would have on El Sauce. Throughout the semester, the most important risks fluctuated and resulted with not enough time to fix issues and that a 12” x 12” sheet cannot be formed due to several factors.

The risk of the system not heating up quick enough has manifested itself into a problem. Not having heaters that can reach the desired temperature in a time that fits the ER and the team’s budget has delayed the project. Once the team reduces the cost of mold materials and determines if six new heaters are essential to the system, the budget will be re-submitted. Once these two issues are resolved, the team will be closer to the expected schedule.

The team is currently working on reducing these top risks by testing the melter’s ability to melt HDPE chips before MSD II. The team is also working with EHS to ensure all safety requirements are being met since the design of the melter and the material has been changed. A new, smaller and simplified mold has been designed to help reduce the cost of materials. The team will work with Gary from the Machine Shop at the beginning of MSD II to start the modifications of the frame and jack. The risk assessment from each phase began to escalate quickly once one problem occurred and was difficult to work around at times. The team is learning to prioritize top risks to work on and continuously work on other tasks to avoid falling behind and creating additional risks.

Individual Team Member Status


In MSD1 I delivered on the responsibilities assigned to me as best as I could as well as try to resolve roadblocks with the team. The electrical system was designed and theoretically modified to adjust for the microcontroller’s control of the heaters. Nick and I are in the process of programming the Teensy as an effective thermal controller and testing temperature sensors. We plan to modify the electrical components in MSD2 for testing the new heaters. I ordered the first round of components and materials which were needed for feasibility testing and more design modifications. MSD1 was full of roadblocks and lots of research of PET/HDPE plastic; I met with professors and subject matter experts on the properties and characteristics of the plastic we were testing with. I learned to adjust and use my time effectively to help push the project forward. In MSD2 I plan to do more research and help with scheduling as well as provide my work readily. I believe MSD1 has prepared the team and me to work around roadblocks and better plan for MSD2.


I was able to deliver on my personal responsibilities, aside from a few roadblocks. I assisted on a lot of feasibility testing and research and gained a lot of knowledge about melting PET and how feasible it is. I helped on the mechanical components of the design of the machine and made important decisions on dimensional tolerances and materials to keep costs down while still meeting all of the engineering requirements. I did utilize my MSD 1 plan effectively. I made sure to stay up to date with all of the MSD emails and information on edge and learned how to move through the inevitable roadblocks that popped up along the way. I learned that it is very important to look for input from those with more specific and detailed knowledge as soon as possible when trying to attack a difficult problem. The biggest issue we dealt with was lack of specific knowledge, but we now know how important it is to get knowledge first and then decide what to do with all of it after we’ve attained everything we can.


During this first semester of MSD I believe I delivered on my personal responsibilities as best I could. I was constantly updating the Edge page and making sure everything that need to be there was uploaded before the reviews and that each person who had worked on specific parts of the project uploaded their work as well. I was also able to assist with creating the 3D model. I did learn that it is important to contact people with more knowledge earlier on in the design process, as it would have been helpful to have a machinist look over the model sooner to give feedback on what could be modified and how. Not getting that information sooner set the team back a bit in that we will not have our 2D drawings ready to machine parts until MSD II, but that is one of the first things we will be doing once MSD II starts. Throughout this semester I did use my MSD plan at times, but I could have looked at it more often to keep up with what I should have had done and by when. The plan was realistic until the team hit a major roadblock and the plan was not adjusted accordingly. For MSD II, the plan will be adjusted throughout each phase to account for any more issues that arise during the building and testing phases.


During MSD I, I was able to deliver on some but not all of my personal responsibilities. Unfortunately, the electrical subsystem design is not currently complete due to the roadblocks we faced during the detailed design phase, but I plan to work with Deryck to finish this in preparation of MSD II. I was able to effectively use my MSD I plan otherwise and was able to come up with a system-level design for the electrical subsystem, and I was able to work with Deryck to pick out and order several electrical components. I learned from these experiences in MSD I that while we can set realistic schedules, sticking to them in the face of external setbacks can be challenging. As we move into MSD II, we should learn to better adjust our schedule and plans to account for roadblocks that we encounter in order to stay on track and meet our goals for our deliverables.


I believe I delivered on my personal responsibilities to the best of my ability, despite the roadblocks we encountered this semester. I worked diligently on the BOM/Budget, encouraging the team to make decisions rather than waiting, and motivating the team to push through and do all that we could despite the roadblocks. Additionally I helped research and benchmark, feasibility testing, helped cut and install insulation for a test run, and was present for Subject Manager experts meetings. Despite trying our best to work through the roadblocks I believe I could have pushed harder for the team to correct to get back on schedule. I have learned that you cannot become complacent or just wait for things to fall into place. Going forward, I will make it a priority to stick to the schedule as much as possible and motivate the team if we fall behind.


I think I effectively delivered on my personal responsibilities as the Communicator during the semester and contributed in other areas such as the design and feasibility testing. I continuously updated our customers about the project and organized and distributed related documents before and after reviews. I also was the main point of contact with SME's and suppliers which helped the team move forward with the project. Overall, I think I followed my MSD I plan for the most part, but I don't think I contributed to the design and mechanical aspects as much as other members. I got distracted contacting various people when the team encountered several roadblocks and making sure the Edge page and other documents were up to date. During MSD II, I plan to become more engaged with the mechanical aspects and will work towards balancing the communications role and mechanical engineer role more efficiently.

MSD II Schedule