Capstone Design Team Materials

Five Questions with Capstone Design Team Materials

November 22, 2022

Get to know interdisciplinary Capstone Design team Materials who will showcase their project, “Cloth Material Handling and Feeding,” at the fall 2022 Capstone Design Expo.

1. Can you tell us about your team and project?

Our Team members include:

  • Bonnie Brownlee from Marietta, Georgia
  • Charu Malhotra from Dehradun, India 
  • Floyd “Sam” Horton from Sandersville, Georgia 
  • Kendrick Dang from Dacula, Georgia 
  • Lydia Stanford from Brooklyn, NY 
  • Tudor Hadade from Loganville, Georgia 
  • Zachary “Stephen” Nease from Savannah, Georgia

Currently, the zipper sewing process requires an operator to manually separate and feed a variety of stacked fabric swatches into a secondary feeder to a sewing machine. This operation costs manufacturers additional labor and delays production when operators starve the sewing machine. ​​The objective of this project is to work with industry leader YKK to develop a device that automates the separation of bundles of fabric to ready a swatch for feeding into a sewing machine by reliably separating an individual piece of cloth from a loaded stack quickly enough to exceed the cycle speed of the sewing machine. Additionally, lowering the cost of clothing production makes clothing manufacturing in the U.S. more economical.   

2. What was your team’s design process, how do you go about separating different tasks, and what are some of the biggest challenges you have faced?

Our team depended largely on developing ideas in a group setting through discussions where we explored different concepts and generated any related tasks that needed to be done to move our ideas forward. Each team member claimed tasks based on their expertise and availability.  

In terms of challenges, at the start of the project, we were largely unfamiliar with the sewing industry. To close this knowledge gap, we asked a lot of questions. The Research and Development team from YKK was a great resource and gave us an in-depth overview of their existing equipment. We also gained valuable insight from conversations with various Georgia Tech faculty including Dr. Steve Dickerson, Dr. Tequila Harris, and Dr. Timothy Brothers.  

As we progressed in the design process, the biggest challenge was committing to a design to move forward with detailed design and prototyping. We came up with several viable options, and each had its own strengths. As a group, we did our best to evaluate which one had the greatest chance of success and agreed to move forward with that design. 

3. Have there been any highlights while working on your project?

One of the most exciting components of this project has been the hands-on experience we have gained throughout the process. We were given the opportunity to visit YKK’s local facility to see several of their existing automated machines in R&D. Furthermore, being able to put our engineering minds to the task of a very practical and tangible issue while interacting with industry experts has been a fulfilling experience.

4. Can you tell us about your experience working with a sponsor?

Working with YKK has been a great mix of the excitement and sense of scale that comes with working with a global corporation, and the accessibility and responsiveness that only a small local team can provide. We’ve been able to think about how our designs will impact a massive industry while enjoying the hospitality of a talented team of engineers who have readily answered any questions, offered resources for sourcing material and prototyping, and even provided access to their facility to see their machines in action. We appreciate their support and are grateful for the trust they’ve placed in us by giving us full control of the design process.  

5. What team attributes have contributed the most to your success?

As an interdisciplinary team, we have a great spread of talents and diversity of knowledge. Even within our mechanical engineering contingent, our team members have various interests and skills. During our discussions, it has been invaluable to have unexpected questions coming from team members with different backgrounds. Our project has really been shaped by input from each team member’s unique perspective and specialized knowledge. 

The fall 2022 Georgia Tech Capstone Design Expo will take place on Monday, December 5, from 4-8 p.m. at McCamish Pavilion on the Georgia Tech Campus. At the Expo, over 600 seniors from various disciplines of engineering and industrial design will showcase their innovative projects designed and built during their Senior/Capstone Design course. Register to attend.