Sunday, August 12, 2012

Guest posting about 3d printing . . .

The 3d printing that I first blogged about here has come to Tahoma.  Darren Collins, our robotics teacher, has a 3d printer for his program that is already making parts for one of their robots.  Darren is one of our very bright science teachers who is on the cutting edge of technology in our schools.  He is providing leadership and support for Bear Metal our young and successful robotics team that I blogged about here.  Below, he shares the first experience making a part with the new printer.

Darren Collins

Tahoma High School is offering a two semester robotics class this year. The school has a number of exciting technological tools to help with fabrication including two 3-axis CNC vertical milling machines, a laser cutting-engraving machine and a 3D printer. The 3D printer arrived at the school last week and I set it up on Monday with the help of a couple of students from the robotics club.
This 3D printer works by depositing melted ABS plastic in thin (0.010”) layers to create a plastic creations limited only by the users imagination. This process is significantly different than a milling machine which cuts away material from a larger piece of stock to create the designed part. The beauty of the 3D printer is that it can easily create complex parts that would otherwise be cumbersome or even impossible using conventional machining techniques.

Once we had set up the printer, we were eager to try out and see it in action. The initial part that we decided to create was a pulley to help improve the performance of “Bearmageddon”, our 2012 competition robot that we built last spring for the FIRST® Robotics Competition. It would have been possible to create this pulley using a lathe and milling machine. However, since the part didn’t need to be extremely robust, it made sense to just print it out.

A render of the pulley that we designed using Autodesk Inventor.


The printer in action creating nine pulleys at once.


A finished part before the soluble support material is dissolved away.


The pulleys installed on Bearmageddon’s lower ball lift roller.


I am eager to see the unique creations that students will be designing and printing this upcoming year.

1 comment:

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