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The True Master Blaster

Submitter: Paula Fusiara
Description: Somewhere at the end of the corridor, not the furthest corner (though it might seem to some a caveman's dungeon where only the bravest come to seek wisdom), is a place where the magic happens. Naturally, to make the magic happen, you need a wizard, and you will find him there indeed.

Don't expect a Harry Potter's pointed hat, nor a magic wand (although he would laugh at this one:) and in one way or another he has a full set of them! (those who like riddles, be my guest :)). He is neither tiny in his posture, nor does he have a long white, silver sprinkled beard grown only by the virtue of having hundreds of years of experience in practicing magic... I will hold my horses,it's not hundreds but 28 years this year to be exact:). For some he resembles more of a scary grizzly bear ready to attack, for others a jester ready to pull a prank ... but that is what the majority see outside the bubble not daring to pinch through it, for HE has a big heart and is always ready to help and you don't need to be a third eye seer. He might not look or behave like a wizard, but believe me he is one in disguise.
Just enter his dungeon, do not be scared, be genuinely interested and ask a question about what is on the table today.

Only then you will realize the serious and true wizard of 5 axis kinematics is standing in front of you, explaining the intricate craftsmanship and analytical complexity involved in PROGRAMMING this powerful subtractive manufacturing monster so that no collision will happen between the milling tool and the material during processing. You will see an enchanting graceful dance of these two instead. What is more, imagine that what he has is a chunk of aluminum alloy and a 3D model from a mechanical engineer which he has to turn into a precise, complex real-life part... well just cast some spells and do some programming magic here and there and the ready part will unveil itself, right?. Not at all ...

After the first prototype was tested the geometry needed optimization. However, it became apparent that the conventional 3-axis machine we have at ASTRON was unsuitable to replicate the design intentions. Such an optimized part needed advanced manufacturing technology to realize this complex final product. That was the case with the revised Gemini LRU liquid cooling monoblock. I'm super grateful, and ASTRON is super lucky that we do have NOVA infrared opto-mechanical group stationed in our mechanical workshop.

Great thanks to Ramon who granted me a 3-day window to make use of the Wizard's wisdom, his skills and the 5-axis monster machine to manufacture the optimized part that had to fly to Australia in no time. Without the Gemini cool block, they could not test the board and their algorithms for the SKA Low Correlator and Beamformer, otherwise the FPGA would fry itself. It needed thermal management.

The Wizard takes his tasks very seriously. After 1-2 hours of interaction and sparring with the Wizard to adjust the model for 5 axis milling, he started programming on Monday afternoon. The Wizard uses time very efficiently. He examines the model, determines the order of his spell casting process, programs the first contours, makes a fastening for the big chunk of metal and fixes the patient to the operating table. Then he loads the very first program, oversees whether it is running as he had in mind and while the first jets of coolant stream down the drain and aluminum chips start taking off in the operating theater he gets back to his MasterCAM PC and programs the next part. In the meantime, while the machine is milling, he programs, simulates and oversees on his screen the milling progress and compares it to the milling simulation assuring that the real-life part would be the exact copy of the 3D model. The 5 axis monster also gets some attention: the process has to be monitored, adjusted when necessary, and the part has to be assessed every now and then to assure the highest quality.

3 days have passed and the Wizard has produced a real beauty. My design, his baby. A huge thank you bear hug goes to the Master Blaster NOVA Wizard Menno :)(P.S. he already got one).

By the way, you - the reader - take 15 seconds of your time, and send him a silent thoughtful thank you as well, for also thanks to his wizardry discoveries in astronomy happen.
Copyright: ASTRON Mechanical Group & NOVA
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