3D Printing More Than Just a Model - By JJ Johsnson
Here's another great write up about what 3D printing is doing in our local schools!
"We have been printing some fantastic things lately with our Rostock Max, but each day I
tell my students that we have yet to even unleash the full potential that 3D printing has in
store for the future. What I mean when I tell students this is that 3D printing can do more
than simply creating a pretty part such a vase or keychain or even a visual non-working
model to represent a product or part. Yeah, those things are great, and that may be the
perfect application for you, but I want to challenge students to think bigger. I want them
to challenge what we know about the ways products are designed and manufactured,
considering the implications of creating one-of-a-kind parts in-house like never before.
My example this week comes from a class called engineering design and development.
Each year students design, fabricate and test a one passenger fuel efficient vehicle to
compete in a contest known as the Shell Eco-Marathon. This presents multiple challenges
for us as a public high school, including funding, time, equipment resources, and more.
As we increase our 3D printing capabilities and accuracy we are finding more and more
ways to combat these challenges and solve some key issues.
A perfect example is this week’s print (shown below). The finished part is a single a
hub adapter with the sprocket incorporated into the design. We utilize a lot of bicycle
components for our vehicle. One such part is a rear BMX style hub and rim. We
purchased this custom setup without the cassette (series of connected sprockets for
changing gears). Since we use #25 roller chain and needed a single sprocket we were
faced with having to design a single piece or assembly to adapt our two systems and
make them work together as desired. In the past this has meant serious money or
groveling at a machine shop in order to get the desired product manufactured. But this
year we are taking a non-traditional approach and printing our final pieces. The design
work has been done by high school students and the print completed in-house. Will the
part hold up? I have high hopes, and at first impression would say yes, we have a lot of
testing to do. At the moment the parts are printed in ABS, if that doesn’t do the trick we
will start looking into nylon, another great printing material known for its strength, but
I’m told a little trickier to print with compared to ABS.
By the way, the total cost of the print was a little over $1.50, and we were holding the
part in our hands after only 5 hours. At that rate we can afford to go through a few design
revisions, printed of course, allowing students to see firsthand, the impact of their design
changes and what improvements can be made to make the design even better in the
future. Printing can and will get the job done!"