Project 3: Plastic Gondola

An Eggciting Challenge

For project 3, we were tasked with designing a gondola out of recycled plastics for carrying 3 eggs down a ramp with the goal of either all of the eggs surviving or being destroyed.

Cooking up the base with some waste

The Cheesecake Factory container and various other plastics from the restaurant.

My first step was collecting plastic materials to create the gondola. I decided to use a (PET) plastic Cheesecake Factory cake to-go container to make the base of the Gondola to carry the eggs. I chose this container due to its ability to close with a locking mechanism that seemed to not open even if it was carrying a significant amount of weight. Because the container was oddly shaped in the black portion, I decided to use the clear portion as the part that actually holds the eggs. Next, I used a plastic bag (HDPE) and also from the Cheesecake Factory to act as a shock absorber for the eggs on the floor of the gondola and the edges.

Zip-locking the eggs into place.

I wanted to ensure that the eggs did not move from their position and bump into each other during motion so I needed a way to secure them in place. I decided I would try to create a sort of “seat belt” to hold them in place by using a plastic (LDPE) zip-loc bag I found in the garbage in the BTU lab. As we were encouraged not to use tape, I tore the plastic bag into 3 roughly equal parts and for each part, used a heat gun to melt the plastic pieces into rings to go around each of the eggs. To secure the rings to the gondola, I melted a small piece of each ring and stuck it to the plastic bag in the base of the gondola.

“Hooking” up the straw

I needed to create a way for the hook to be able to connect to the gondola on the test day. I utilized a straw from the ATLAS Cafe to put through the container (I cut holes in both sides of the container for the straw). The friction of the straw seemed to be strong enough to prevent it from easily coming out so I did not bother with melting more plastic to stick it. To be able to connect the hook, I cut a small square in the top of the container directly above the straw.

Walking on eggshells

Due to team travel for the final Cross Country Pac-12 Championships ever, I was not in class for the launch day of our gondolas. I did however FaceTime in to watch my gondola get launched. Unfortunately all of my eggs broke. While I could not get a very good look at the setup as well as how the eggs were placed in the container, I wasn’t expecting the line to end with a solid wall that my gondola would hit. I thought the line would end with a stop near the hook causing the gondola to swing rather than slam into something. This slamming action seemed to cause the container to open and everything to spill out with all 3 of my eggs broken. If I had known this prior I think I would have designed a sort of cushion to slow the impact of the entire gondola to. I could have done this potentially by inflating a plastic bag and connecting it to the impact side of the gondola. I also might have wanted to reinforce the locking mechanism to ensure that there was no way the case would open.

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