Fuse making machine

This is a fuse making machine that operates nearly as well as a factory machine would. Have you figured out what exactly this is yet? It’s not an electrical fuse, it’s a Visco Fuse. Still not totally clear? Don’t worry, we had to look it up too. Visco Fuse is a high-quality safety fuse used in fireworks.

[Robert McMullen] built the machine as part of his degree in Mechanical Engineering at Olin College. But there’s a hobby twist behind its genesis. When he has free time he participates in Olin’s Fire Arts Club and we’re sure this stuff comes in handy. The fuse is made by encapsulating a stream of gunpowder in a tube of woven thread. Twenty spools of thread wrap their way around the nozzle of a fine funnel. Once the casing is in place the machine coats it in a waterproof lacquer.

The image above only shows the base of the machine. All the fun parts (and test burns including one underwater) can be seen in the video after the break.

13 thoughts on “Fuse making machine

  1. At 0:40 I like the way he grabs the paper a split second before the spinning blades come down without loosing any fingers. Geeze man.

    1. Whoops – the above comment was on a video that showed up after the fuse making machine (very cool) my mistake.

      OSHA should check the fireworks making machine out :)

      1. Being as I did not see ANY English (or even a recognizable letter of the Latin alphabet), I am certain this factory is not within OSHA’s jurisdiction. But I think we all know what you were meaning.

    1. He simply needs to adjust his powder mix. If he cannot find a slower burning smokeless powder, he could mix the powder with something inert (such as talc, or maybe a add additional carbon powder). The fuse itself (and the fuse making machine) works fine, he only needs to work on fine tuning the rate of burn.
      The only other comment I might add would be to replace the gravity fed funnel with some type of constant feed rate system. But assumeing that Robert isn’t planning to start produceing thousand foot spools, the funnel should work just fine. Actually, if this was my machine, I would add the constant feed rate setup ABOVE the funnel. That way, you could do several short batches (in batch mode), to check different powder mixes. When you have the mix you like, you mix and load the hopper, and away you go.

      No, this is an excellent build, and if I were making my own fireworks, I would DEFINATELY be looking into building one of these for myself.

      1. Hi Brian. I’m aiming at using Robert his design to create the above mentioned 2s/inch burning fuse. From what I read in your comment I assume that you think this can be done with Robert’s design, without modifying the design? So the fuse doesn’t need to be thicker then this, for instance? I am also going to replace the constant cycle motor by a motor that changes in speed. Will the funnel then still be sufficient, or will variable motor speed then also create variable qualities of fuse? Any comments on my questions would be very welcome. Anne-Jan

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