Bluefin Robotics Corp. called on Clampco — a manufacturer of stainless steel T-bolt band clamps and V-band couplings — when it needed help "testing the waters." Bluefin specializes in manufacturing underwater robotic equipment for offshore survey, military, and scientific research customers.
By working with Clampco Products Inc., Bluefin was able to complete an underwater robotics project for the U.S. Navy in record time. Bluefin designed, built, tested, and demonstrated its AUV (Autonomous Underwater Vehicle) for the Coastal System Station and the Office of Naval Research in approximately eight months — half the time typically required for projects of a similar scale. Sam Tolkoff, engineer at Bluefin, attributes this rapid development to one of its suppliers, Clampco Products, Inc. "We considered several other suppliers when we first looked into the project," says Tolkoff. "However, Clampco was able to offer us the best lead time, and this is exactly what we needed - fast delivery as well as special attention and support for our design requirements." Clampco handles special requests as a matter of course. For instance, Tolkoff's team needed to design the AUV with robust modular joints, which would let operators disassemble the equipment in two directions. They could either remove panels from the AUV or interchange the tail section with the top sections of 10 other vehicles. A V-band coupling is a fastener that offers this type of flexibility. But Bluefin had special design considerations above and beyond the standard V-band coupling. Tolkoff worked with Carl Klaus, sales engineer at Clampco, regarding Bluefin's custom requirements. Typically, V-bands have a gap under the latch mechanism to facilitate installation. However, the Bluefin engineers wanted to reduce the gap to increase total surface contact with the flanges. So Clampco simply rotated the position of the retainer segments so that the ends of the segments would sit under the latch.
To improve the coupling's corrosion resistance in the harsh salt-water environment, Clampco used 316 stainless steel bands.