Jeremy Fu

Foam Seal Applicator

I was tasked with designing and fabricating an applicator to accurately place a foam seal into a plenum. This black foam piece creates a seal between the metal plenum and a fan, so a precise and accurate seal is required. When placed by hand, the foam easily distorts, making it so the foam covers the four screw holes or has a distorted opening. Small tolerances between the foam seal and the plenum make repeatability and precision important.

  • Fabrication
  • Rapid Iterative Prototyping
  • Individual Project

3rd round mockup


Key goals for the applicator:

  1. How might we increase the speed, precision and accuracy of the installation process so that there is always a proper alignment of the foam seal against the plenum.

  2. How might we increase transparency of the installation process so the worker knows if the foam seal is properly aligned and secured to the plenum?
Design Requirements
  • The applicator will align the seal against 4 rectangular patterned screw holes and a center bore
  • The design allows for visual confirmation that the seal is placed and secured
  • The design allows the user to have one free hand
  • The design holds the foam seal while it is being placed, including when the applicator is flipped
  • The design ensures repeatability and consistency of placement
1st Iteration Mockup

+ 3D print is cost efficient

 3D printed pins are delicate and snap off

 Tolerances are not tight enough, doesn’t hold applicator when flipped

 Difficult to align with only pins

2nd Iteration Mockup

+ Secondary alignment on boss increases ease of alignment

+ OTS handle allows for better grip

+ 3D print allows for complex structure

+ Metal pins smoothly interface with plenum

 No confirmation of placement, or transparency

 Requires some fiddling to properly align pins to holes

3rd Iteration Prototype

+ Contrast of black pins allows for easy alignment

 Pins are too short, do not fully interface with plenum

Final Prototype

+ Simpler construction allows for fewer distractions, clarity in placement

+ Deeper boss allows for plenum placement to be engaged first, then pins

+ Longer pins interface deeply with screw holes

+ Foam seal is secured

Placement Improvement

Before: foam seal was distorted on plenum, screw holes didn’t line up

After: foam seal is aligned on plenum 

  • Gained insight on converting designs between materials and processes. 
  • Learned how to create minimum viable prototypes to prove concepts 
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