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A Non-Commercial Pneumatic Trainer with PLC Control

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2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

August 28, 2016





Conference Session

Instrumentation Division Technical Session 2

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Paper Authors


Maged Mikhail Purdue University - Calumet

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Dr. Maged B. Mikhail, Assistant Professor, Mechatronics Engineering Technology
Ph.D., Electrical Engineering, Tennessee State University, Nashville, Tennessee, August 2013.
Dissertation title: “Development of Integrated Decision Fusion Software System For Aircraft Structural Health Monitoring"
M.S., Electrical Engineering, Tennessee State University, Nashville, Tennessee, May 2009.
Thesis title: “Development of Software System for Control and Coordination of Tasks among Mobile Robot and Robotic Arm."
B.S., Electrical Engineering University of El Mina Cairo, Egypt, May 2001.

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Gregory P. Neff Purdue University - Northwest

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Gregory Neff is professor of mechanical engineering technology at Purdue University Northwest, Calumet campus. He is a Registered Professional Engineer, a Certified Manufacturing Engineer, and a Certified Manufacturing Technologist. Greg is active in ASEE where he won the Meryl K. Miller award in 1994 and in SME as faculty advisor for SME student chapter 161 and an advisor for Tau Alpha Pi. He is a member of ASHRAE and sponsor of student members. He is active in ASME, where he has served as chair in 2001-2002 for the Mechanical Engineering Technology Department Head Committee (METDHC) of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME). He also served the METDHC as as vice-chair responsible for METDHC technical sessions at the 2001 International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition in New York and secretary in 1999-2000. Greg has represented ASME as an MET accreditation program evaluator or team chair visiting twelve schools between 1996 and 2006 and served as a member of the ASME Committee on Technology Accreditation from 2002 to 2006. He served on the Technology Accreditation Commission of the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (now ETAC/ABET) as an ASME Commissioner with a term that started in summer 2003 and continued as an alternate member through 2006.

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In a mechanical engineering technology, mechatronics engineering technology, agricultural engineering, or instrumentation program, the fluid power course can be an important part of the curriculum. We use Vickers Hydraulic trainers for hydraulics labs. The principles of pneumatics and control of pneumatic circuits lends itself particularly well to productive laboratory experiences in an instrumentation & control or mechatronics context to serve as a first introduction to PLC control. Pneumatic actuators and solenoid valves are relatively inexpensive and can provide fast motion that catches the eye in lab when incorporated into an appropriate trainer.

We have prototyped a PLC controlled pneumatics trainer and are in the process of building 4 to 5 double sided stand-alone trainers using components from 80/20 Inc., “Industrial Erector Set” for the cart with the help of senior project students. The students are writing and testing pneumatic experiment labs, as well as selecting and mounting components on the trainer carts to carry them out.

We are using pneumatic components from Bimba, Inc., 24 Volt DC PLCs from B & R Automation, and sensors from Balluff.

One experiment that will be shown and modeled with Automation Studio software is from the pneumatics and PLC chapters of the Esposito fluid power text. This type of experiment shows how a task is done using pneumatic components with sensor input and PLC control or optional push button control components. The comparison to previously done manually-controlled hydraulics experiments used for an analogous (but heavier duty) tasks is part of the motivation.

We will mention and perhaps show a short video of our JobMaster pneumatic trainer used for industrial type training to demonstrate push button control of relays and solenoid actuated pneumatic cylinders using stepped down 240 V three phase power as another contrast.

Mikhail, M., & Neff, G. P. (2016, June), A Non-Commercial Pneumatic Trainer with PLC Control Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.26382

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