Drawer Slides Tested Tough
Versatility Tool Works (VTW) goes to extraordinary lengths to achieve quality. This includes a regimen of testing to monitor and assess the performance of VTW’s design, engineering and manufacturing processes. Results are fed back to an aggressive Continuous Improvement Program.
VTW & IIT CollaborationTo help with this research, VTW decided to enlist the aid of the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT), a Chicago university well known for manufacturing engineering.
VTW has a special tie to IIT. Steve Freimuth, Ed’s brother and another VTW Principal, is an alumnus. Steve contacted Will Maurer, IIT Industry Associate Professor, asking if it might be possible to recruit students to help with research centered on testing and analysis of the design and performance of drawer slides. Maurer considered the undertaking an ideal senior team project. The Freimuths, Maurer, and a team of IIT students collaborated on the testing.
A purpose-built test rig was constructed by VTW and installed in an IIT lab. The rig was programmed to automatically and continuously open and close a drawer, unattended, for days at a time. Different makes and designs of slides, slide-support schemes, and a variety of load conditions (weights, placement in drawers, etc.) were tested.
It was discovered that the original off-the-shelf slides had insufficient yield strength (HRB 55). They deformed, allowing drawers to contact and drag along cabinet housings. Slides made of harder steel (HRB 72) showed no signs of failure after 7,000 cycles; these slides, however, were significantly more expensive. A more cost-effective solution was ultimately found. The original slides were shot peened to increase their hardness (to HRB 67); drawers equipped with these slides showed no signs of wear even after 10,000 cycles.
According to Steve Freimuth, “The research’s solution was counterintuitive in that it called for combining store bought slides with in-house processing (shot peening). This approach costs out well and should provide customers with lower owning and operating costs over the life of a cabinet.”