Making caramel corn at home


Making caramel corn at home is a process that often involves several people to successfully complete. This is due to the properties of Carmel once it has been cooked, there is a very short amount of time from stove to mixing for the caramel to remain in a viscous state. The purpose of the caramel corn mixer is to reduce the number of people needed for evenly mixing caramel with freshly cooked popcorn.


  • System Specification and Testing Plan
  • Show original design + changes to the design (only the changes made it Solidworks)


Design/ Approach/ Manufacturing details/ Methods:

The device was originally intended to be made of aluminum and 304 stainless steel. However, because stainless steel and aluminum naturally diffuse together, when they are touching, it was decided to make the entire assembly from 304 stainless steel.


  • Could have made fewer components out of stainless steel. This would have saved time in the machining process.
  • Components were cut out of 16 gauge stainless steel. A thinner gauge would have worked.
  • Welding with TIG should have taken heatsink characteristics into consideration. (Amount of current needed to weld 16 gauge sheet metal is a lot slower than the amount of current needed to weld 16 gauge sheet metal to mixing shaft)
  • Consider changing blade design (very difficult to weld components together, a lot of time to set up correctly)


The base and the mixing blades are cut from a 304 stainless steel sheet with a thickness of 0.06 inches. The dimensions are measured and are marked by a permanent marker. A grinder with a 4.5-inch cutoff wheel was used to cut out the pieces of stainless steel. The cutting process is conducted in the house because there is a lack of resources and a number of people in the machine shop (1329 Santa Clara Hall ). The bending process is conducted in the machine shop, and the sheet metal brake is used to make the necessary bends in the sheet metal components. The edges needed to bend are marked with a scribe. The marks are made such that they coincide with the edge of the upper clamp. The machine is turned on, and the specimen is clamped between the upper clamp and the lower clamp.


Testing plan and results:

  • Durability testing of sheet metal should have been performed to find the minimum gauge thickness of sheet metal needed to create components.
  • Motor Torque test/ stress test (test max torque motor can handle)
  • (As stated by Brummer) the original prototype did not have to be made from 304 stainless. We only needed to produce a proof of concept.


Major changes:

( Why did we choose to change the design? How did that affect the manufacturing process? Were there any issues with the change along the way?)


  • Coupling changed, integrated as part of the smaller pulley instead of an individual component
  • Pulley case


Future changes:

  • Bucket Design (Is this in reference to the position of the motor assembly?)
  • Access panel for the base (how is this different from what we currently have?)



[1]: Fellows, P. J.. Food Processing Technology: Principles and Practice, Elsevier Science & Technology, 2009.

[2]: Mohos, F. Á (2017). Confectionery and Chocolate Engineering. In Confectionery and Chocolate Engineering. John Wiley & Sons, Incorporated.

[3]: Steele, Marjorie. “Home.” IQS Directory,

[4]: Yeng-Yung Tsui & Yu-Chang Hu (2011) Flow Characteristics in Mixers

Agitated by Helical Ribbon Blade Impeller, Engineering Applications of Computational Fluid

Mechanics, 5:3, 416-429, DOI: 10.1080/19942060.2011.11015383

[5]: Cretors, C. D. (2018). U.S. Patent No. 9,943,087. Washington, DC: U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

[6]: Vidojevic, N. (2020). U.S. Patent No. 10,779,558. Washington, DC: U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

[7]: Cretors, C. D. (2018). U.S. Patent No. 9,943,087. Washington, DC: U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

[8]: Damodharan, P., & Vasudevan, K. (2010). Sensorless brushless DC motor drive based on the zero-crossing detection of back electromotive force (EMF) from the line voltage difference. IEEE Transactions on Energy Conversion, 25(3), 661-668.

[9]: Uzuka, M. (1980). U.S. Patent No. 4,217,508. Washington, DC: U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

[10]: Vidojevic, N. (2020). U.S. Patent No. 10,779,558. Washington, DC: U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

[11]: Coefficient of Friction Equation and Table Chart – Engineers Edge

LLC. Engineers Edge –

[12]: “Code of Federal Regulations Title 21.” United States Food and Drug Administration.

[13]: Properties: Silicone Rubber


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