Browsing articles from "August, 2012"
Aug 28, 2012
Comments Off on 3D printing to help Astronauts survive on Mars.

3D printing to help Astronauts survive on Mars.

The Curiosity Rover is now 23 days into its two year exploration of Mars, aiming to unlock the mystery of Mars. While the project seeks to determine if there is organic matter on Mars, telling us if life can or does exist on Mars, the ultimate goal is to send humans to Mars.


NASA engineers have already begun testing the next generation Rover. Described by NASA test engineer as a “personal SUV” for space the new Rover will act as a housing module for astronauts with two small beds and an observation module so astronauts can get up close and personal with their new surroundings.

The team at NASA decided to use 3D printing to help with the development of the next generation Rover, thanks to the processes ability to create tough, durable components from lightweight materials in a matter of hours. Approximately 70 components used in the Rover, ranging from vents, to external housings were 3D printed using an FDM machine. In addition to the production of end use components Rapid Prototyping also featured in the early design and development stages, prototyping the form, fit and function of the parts prior to tooling.

3D printing helped the team at NASA save time and money at both the prototyping and production phase.

See the new Rover in action below.

Aug 15, 2012
Comments Off on 3D Print mobile to bring Rapid Prototyping technology to school children

3D Print mobile to bring Rapid Prototyping technology to school children

As young children we would rush home from school with our arms laden with wonderful creations to amaze our parents. However somewhere along the way we simply stopped making things, learning became increasing focused on ingesting and regurgitating as much information as possible and we abandoned our much loved crafting tools in favour of pen and paper.

Now a team of students from the University of Stanford aim to foster new opportunities for creativity amongst 7-13 year old school children  (seen as a key developmental pocket where creativity diminishes) with SparkTruck. A bookmobile for makers packed to the brim with crafting goodies. From high tech rapid prototyping equipment used by engineering and design houses to crafting basics such as scissors and glue guns,  SparkTruck is equipped to provide the perfect compliment to a child’s attention span.

Rapid Prototyping while presently the go of industrial designers, is a technology that holds potential even within the tight budgetary constraints of the education system as raw materials and running costs for 3D printers are relatively low”. Coordinator of the SparkTruck project Jason Chua believes that with technologies such as Rapid Prototyping providing fun, open-ended opportunities to children as they move through school and life, children will have assistance in overcoming fear of failure in turn growing increasingly confident in their ability to be creative and work through tough problems.

Aug 3, 2012
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3d Printing sets sail

Mechanical engineering students at the University of Washington stunned and amused judges at the annual Milk Carton Derby in Seattle as they paddled their way to 2nd place in the worlds first 3d printed milk carton boat!

Taking a unique slant on the traditional Milk Carton Derby design regulations, the team at WOOF (Washington Open Object Fabricators) researched, designed and printed their boat almost entirely from recycled milk cartons. Weighing 40+ lbs the WOOF entry is the only boat that is 99% milk cartons, requiring some 250 one gallon milk jugs to produce.


Speaking on the project, Mark Ganter, professor of Mechanical Engineering stated “milk jug material is an awful material to work with. It shrinks,  it curls, it doesn’t want to stick to itself. Overcoming all those parts of the problem was part of the achievement”. Following weeks of research and dumpster diving, the team received assistance from Scrapblasters who carried out controlled small batch shredding to produce a clean mix of only #2 HDPE milk jug plastic.

Using a home made extruder attached to a 4’x8′ plasma cutter the team were ready for their first test print. Having achieved success the next challenge lay ins scaling up the process while dealing with cost restrictions and shrinkage issues. Thankfully the team overcame the challenges in time to compete in the Milk Carton Derby!