projects/ seagull/

Seagull Dual Path O.D. Drive Tape Burnisher

This machine both burnishes and wipes the surface of hard drive disks.   

I built all the automation for the prototype, wired the electronics and wrote software for the controls.

Demonstration Video of the Prototype Unit:

LabView Interface Program:

Prototype Wiring:


Seagull designed the dual path O.D. drive tape burnisher for manufacturers in the hard drive industry.  This machine both burnishes and wipes the surface of hard drive disks.  Disk manufacturers burnish the disks in various stages of the manufacturing process.  Some manufacturers, for example, burnish their disks directly after dipping them in lube, because the burnishing heats up the surface of the disk (which bonds the lube to the disk surface), then after burnishing they wipe the disks to remove the excess lube.  The Seagull dual path tape burnisher is only a fraction of the size of burnisher machines used in manufacturing lines now.  It spins the disks using the outer diameter of the disks (O.D.) unlike other machines that use the inner diameter (I.D.).  Using the O.D. allows this machine to burnish the entire surface of the disk.  Machines that grip the disk by the I.D. cannot burnish the disk surface close to the I.D. of the disk.

My part of this project was to completely automate the tape burnisher and turn it into a standalone unit for demonstrations and trade shows.  My goal was to build one prototype standalone unit, then later reconfigure the tape burnisher controls so that it could easily integrate into any manufacturer's production line.  I built a disk lifter to raise disks one-by-one from a disk cassette into the tape burnisher unit.  I wired the motors, sensors, airpots, and pneumatic actuators on both the lifter and the burnisher to a PLC.  Then I programmed the PLC to automatically cycle through one cassette of disks, lifting a single disk at a time out of the cassette and into tape burnisher where it would get burnished for some set amount of time then get placed back into the cassette.  The disk lifter then advanced the cassette to the next disk using a stepper motor and continued the cycles until the entire cassette of disks had been processed.  I wrote an interface program in LabView to allow an operator to quickly reprogram process variables, such as burnish time, disk rotation speed, and tape speed, using the serial port of any computer running Windows.