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3D Printing More Than Just a Model - By JJ Johsnson

Posted by John Olafson on

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!"

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