Afinia is a division of Microboards Technology LLC, a leader in specialized printing solutions. Their 3D printer line demonstrates our mechanical and electrical expertise. They offer the H-Series of 3D printers: portable, affordable plastics printers for design engineers, educators, and hobbyists.
My daughter is in an activity called “Colorguard” and is applying to be a captain for next season. One of the requirements for the application is to do something for the betterment of the Colorguard team. She chose to build a roller cart for a heavy loud speaker their team uses to play the music during practices and performances.
How to build a cart that will keep the speaker stable during transport, while still allowing the speaker to be removed easily, and without modifying the speaker.
How to replace a lost handle from the speaker.
Replacing the missing handle
The secondary problem was a bit easier to tackle than the primary problem so, of course, I went after that first. The speaker comes with three identical handles that are mounted with screws. I was able to remove one of the remaining two handles and use our EinScan-SP 3D scanner to capture the handle.
Since the handle was very dark, I powdered it with a thin layer of baby powder so the scanner would be able to pick up the surfaces. The EinScan-SP has a great feature that automatically aligns each scan as it turns on the turntable. It will also automatically align multiple scans of the object in different positions. The software also picks up non-linear points of geometry from multiple scans and aligns them to each other. This allows users to capture not only the sides, but also the top and bottom of an object.
I was able to use the editing functions of the software to remove any background artifacts out of the scan before meshing it into a watertight STL.
Clean Up and Customization: After exporting the scan to a watertight STL, I still had a few things to do. The handle had some wear and tear on it and had some of the rubber padding torn off or hanging from the handle. I used Meshmixer (www.meshmixer.com) from Autodesk, a free utility, to import the STL and clean up the uneven surfaces caused by the wear and tear on the handle. I was able to use the “Deform: Smooth” tool after selecting the rough areas with the selection brush in Meshmixer.
My daughter also wanted to customize the label that was printed on the handle so I used the “Edit: Erase and Fill” tool to remove the embedded text and create a flat surface. I also used Meshmixer to clean up the screw holes to make sure they were cylindrical.
After making those edits on the handle, I exported the mesh as an STL file from Meshmixer. The file came out very large at 26 MB. I used another free utility software called Meshlab (www.meshlab.net), to reduce the size of the STL by decimating the redundant polygons (Filters: Remeshing, Simplification, and Reconstruction: Simplification Quadric Edge Collapse Decimation). This sounds like a lot of work, but the software does all the work for you. I was able to re-export the mesh from Meshlab at a manageable 2.4 MB from the original Meshmixer file of 26 MB.
Meshlab has a ton of functions for working with meshes such as scan data from 3D scanners. Meshmixer and Meshlab are invaluable tools for people using 3D scanners.
To embed new text into the handle, I chose to use a simple and free CAD program called Tinkercad (www.tinkercad.com/) from Autodesk. I imported the reduced-file-size STL into Tinkercad and aligned a plane onto the surface I wanted to embed the text then used the Text and Numbers feature in Tinkercad to type in my text and used the Hole function to cut the text into the model as I lowered it in. I then selected both the text and the mesh and merged them together. I exported the new mesh for 3D printing.
I used a higher density infill of 80% and utilized the H+1’s TPU extruder for flexible filaments. The higher density infill gave more rigidity to the handle while still making it soft to the touch for comfortable handling.
Here is the result of the replacement handle:
Building a cart for the speaker
Now onto the primary portion of the project: how to build a cart for the speaker.
My daughter told me she wanted to make a durable cart that would hold the speaker safely, but still allow the speaker to be easily removed from the cart. We took a look around the speaker and came up with an idea to use the speaker mount as our mounting point onto the cart.
As I looked at the area, I noticed a lot of indented planes, vertical walls, angled walls and a cylinder for the mounting pipe. We could have spent quite a bit of time with a calipers trying to get the critical dimensions, but why do that when you have a handheld 3D scanner?
With this handheld scanner, we were able to move the scanner over the cavity in the speaker and capture many of the flat areas. We first applied target markers to allow us to use HD capture of the surface area.
We then used the EinScan Pro 2X PLUS with its EXSCAN PRO software to capture the critical surface areas. After a small bit of cleanup, we exported the mesh as a non-watertight STL file as we were only capturing the surface area of the mounting area, and not the whole speaker.
The EinScan Pro 2X PLUS does come with Solid Edge software, which is a full CAD package with reverse engineering capabilities, but in this case I chose to use Autodesk Fusion 360 (https://www.autodesk.com/products/fusion-360), as we have many schools and hobbyists that use this software and it does have Mesh importation and reverse engineering capabilities.
I imported the non-watertight STL file into Autodesk Fusion 360 and was able to start getting some measurements and define some planes.
Since I had the scanned mesh body, I could keep it visible while drawing the necessary items to create my model.
And make the mesh model invisible to just see my model without the mesh.
After I was happy with the design of the model—and how it fit, virtually, in the mesh model—I went to 3D print. The model was slightly too large to print all in one piece, so I used a very simple function (Modify:Split Body) to break up the model into two pieces for 3D printing.
I used the Afinia H+1 and printed the two bodies in black PLA, being mindful of the print path to enhance strength in the cylinder and walls of the printed model. To give a cylinder the most strength, print it on its side so the print path goes the long way around the cylinder from top to bottom and not just around and around in layered circles. The layers are the weakest point in a print, so take into consideration where the lateral force will come into your model after it is printed and make sure layers are perpendicular to the force direction.
Here are the printed pieces for our project:
Now, we started fitting the pieces into the speaker to see how we did.
Wow! They fit like a glove. No 2nd, 3rd, 4th, etc… revision needed. This is unheard of! All thanks to 3D scanning with the Shining 3D EinScan Pro 2X PLUS.
Here are pictures of the rest of the assembled cart. The frame is made of 1.5” ABS tubing, welded together with acetone and the mounting plate is a scrap piece of particle board. All in all, not too shabby for a father and daughter team with the right tools.
Brian Wagaman has taught Woodshop, Engineering and Technology, and Advanced Manufacturing and Logistics. He also served as the Vice President of the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) for Indiana from 2016-2017. Wagaman focuses on giving kids the knowledge and skills pertinent to what they’ll experience in the world.
Taking Off with 3D Printing
Brian Wagaman’s classes were recently introduced to 3D printing when their school acquired an Afinia H400 and the Dobot Magician robotic arm. “I’m extremely impressed and excited about the machines,” explains Wagaman. “The students have taken off with them. The 3D printer has had nonstop use for months!”
Students use the printer to solve real-world problems, like replacing a broken keyfob.
Wagaman is excited that students have gone from making simple shapes and parts to printing parts they can use in real life in just a matter of weeks. “For example,” he says, “a student’s key fob broke, so he 3D printed a replacement for it—and it worked. Another student made a fly fishing reel. Students are using 3D printing to solve real-world problems and for real-world situations. At this very moment, I’m looking at the 3D printer while it’s printing a lathe chuck for handheld drill,” tells Wagaman.
Some of Wagaman’s have also downloaded and printed files from websites such as NASA. “The students found and printed a ratchet that was on [NASA’s] website. That connection to real-world applications was neat,” Wagaman explained. “They could hold a 3D print that was made using the same file as something that had gone into space! We printed off several, and it even evoked excited from kids who weren’t even in our class.”
3D Printing and “Soft Skills”
Wagaman recognizes that the Afinia machines have reinforced students’ geometry, math, and spatial concepts, like cartesian coordinates, as well as their ability to work with CNC and CAD. “These are really important concepts that industries are needing their future employees to understand,” says Wagaman. “They directly relate to careers that are waiting for students after school.”
Wagaman with the Afinia H400 and Dobot Magician.
However, Wagaman has noticed that working with the H400 and Dobot Magician has also helped his students’ soft skills flourish. One impressive print the students worked on to enhance their soft skills is a full, working trumpet (pictured right). “It was a collaborative project, and an excellent way to get them to work together. They excited each other, checking in to see what the status of each print was. It was fascinating to see. Collaboration is such an important aspect of industry.”
The lessons didn’t stop there, of course. Wagaman also notes that students learn more about time management while 3D printing, as well. “They understand that they have a design that will take 3+ hours to print, and that they have to plan accordingly,” he explains. “Students these days live in a pretty instantaneous world, and 3D printing projects helps remind them that not everything is immediate.”
Students have even used the machines to help express their thanks. “Several students made a name plaque for the technology person who helped get their 3D printing up and running,” explains Wagaman. “I thought it was such a great project… using their knowledge of technology to express their gratitude.” Having these soft skills can help students go even further than mastering the hard sciences alone.
Challenge Leads to Accomplishment
“The Dobot Magician has been more challenging for students than the Afinia H400. It has really encouraged them to learn to code, without them even realizing they are learning coding!” exclaims Wagaman.
Students create gifts for loved ones using the Dobot Magician.
“They’ve been very interested in laser engraver aspect of the Dobot,” Wagaman states, saying the timing of having access to the robotic arm worked out perfectly, with many students using it to make wood engravings for their moms for Mother’s Day.
“The different aspects of what the Dobot can do—what tools you can put on it—is exciting. Students feel accomplished when they are able to solve their own problem. It sparks their excitement and they let their creativity run.”
Moving Forward with 3D Printing in the Classroom
Wagaman was pleased to see how easily the machines could be incorporated into the classroom. “It’s so awesome to open a 3D printer, initialize it, and go to town. Even with many, many hours use, our H400 hasn’t malfunctioned once,” shares Wagaman. “The durability, from a teachers standpoint, is fantastic and so necessary! I also really like that the H400 is mobile. I spend most of my time in the high school, but can easily bring it to the middle school to show them 3D printing, too.”
“I think there is a lot of great potential to build a teaching program around the H400 and the Dobot Magician that encourages students to work more diligently on CAD skills at the beginning of the year, so they can really get into more difficult projects as the year progresses,” Wagaman says. “The H800+ could be a great addition, too. Ideally, the school would consider purchasing several more 3D printers and Dobot Magicians to set up as stations.”
Overall, Wagaman can tell the 3D printing technology is something that truly enhances students’ love of learning. “I’m excited about their excitement. It isn’t led by the teacher. If I can get out of the way and let them explore, that’s a good way to teach. And that’s been easy for me with the H400 and Dobot Magician. The students keep wanting to one-up each other, and they fuel their own learning.”
David Shircliff is the Technology Education teacher for Loudoun County schools. He has been teaching for 26 years, and loves when students have the “ah-ha” moment when they figure something out for themselves.
A Surprise Start to 3D Printing
Prior to the school purchasing the Afinia H800 3D printer, David Shircliff did not have experience with 3D modeling or printing. “It was actually a surprise when we got the 3D printers,” he says. “We came in, and it was just sitting there! We had an inkling it might be coming, and knew some school administrators had been researching school-friendly 3D printers, but we had no idea they had made the purchase.”
Even with the surprise introduction to 3D printing and no prior experience, Shircliff and his colleagues learned the ropes quickly. “I love 3D printing,” exclaims Shircliff, noting that he even purchased an Afinia H400 for his own use at home. “It’s a hobby of mine now. You can make some pretty useful things, and I also use it for prototyping.”
Since the original purchase, the school has also provided Shircliff’s classroom with an Afinia H800+, enabling his students to print even more of their designs.
Adding 3D Printing to the Arsenal of Tools
Several student-printed projects from Shircliff’s class.
Shircliff’s students were very excited about the addition of the H800 to the classroom. “Initially, they couldn’t get enough of it,” says Shircliff. “They would just stare, and watch it print. Now, they are so familiar with it that it is just another tool in their arsenal, which I think is really a great thing. It’s an important skill for the future–it’s another way they can make their ideas come to life.”
The students begin familiarizing themselves with the printer by completing a key fob assignment. Shircliff instructs students to find a key fob design and then modify it to their liking, or design their own. After the students feel more comfortable with the design software and manipulating the print settings, the creativity flows. “I have students who come back in later grades to print projects for other classes,” shares Shircliff. “I teach at a school that’s packed with overachievers!”
Students have come to Shircliff asking to print designs of the Eiffel tower for French class, Vex robot covers, and even drones and submarines that were designed by the students themselves. “By the way, the submarine worked great!” adds Shircliff.
The “Ah-ha” Moment
Several additional 3D printed projects by students are on display.
One of Shircliff’s favorite things about teaching is the “ah-ha” moment: when students figure something out for themselves. He’s found that 3D printing has contributed these types of moments to students’ learning. “The biggest one is when they download their STL and print, and at first they don’t know why it’s failing. They go back to step one, look at the file, and usually end up seeing what was set up wrong. They fix it, and it works. With 3D printing, you do have to understand what you’re doing,” explains Shircliff.
Another benefit of 3D printing that Shircliff recognizes is how it encourages students to not take shortcuts. He says, “3D printing isn’t forgiving. If you don’t have things set correctly, the print can fail. Students begin to realize that there are a lot of things that need to align, and that they really need to follow the steps.” Shircliff recognizes that many “real world” positions, like engineering and surgery, require accuracy. “Working with 3D printers really clarifies that concept. You can’t skip a little step. It’s a nice, gentle eye-opener… it’s not so picky that they can’t figure it out, but it’s also very sequential. If you follow the steps, you’ll figure it out.”
“I love the Afinia products!” shares Shircliff, adding, “that’s why I bought myself the H400. It has great reviews, and the printers are easy to use. I especially like that the slicer isn’t too complicated. I don’t want to be messing around with too much stuff. I don’t want overwhelming.”
The Afinia’s ease-of-use certainly came in handy during one of Shircliff’s most notable prints, which he used to teach students how 3D printing can be used for large projects. Shircliff added Vex robotics to this well-known, other-galaxy droid robot after his daughter and her fiancé jokingly mentioned it could be the ring bearer for their wedding later this year–which will shortly become a reality. It’s not often you get to have a celebrity be your ring bearer, but with 3D printing, possibilities are endless.
The ST10 software is a high-performance hybrid CAD system which addresses all aspects of the product development process and brings the latest “Next Generation” design technologies, by adding Reverse Design, Generative design and Simulation modules together with CAD design system.
3D Scanner + Solid Edge ST10 Bundles
Special Shining 3D scanner bundles with Siemens Solid Edge ST10 Classic software coming soon for the following EinScan models: SP, Pro, and Pro+. Pricing and Availability to be announced soon.
SIEMENS Solid Edge ST10 reverse engineering with EinScan 3D Scanner - YouTube
David Shircliff, a Technology Education teacher at Stone Hill Middle School in Ashburn, VA, printed a life-size R2-D2* for his class using the Afinia H800 3D printer. After a year of printing between student projects and ten 1000g rolls of mainly ABS filament, and with the help of VEX components, this beautiful astromech droid was created.
Not only can the robot move around, it speaks droid, spins its head, and the upper arm pops out. This is an excellent example of what is possible when 3D printing is combined with robotics and creativity.
Jerry Snee, “Chief Squidgeter,” and Sean Snee, COO and Senior Vice-President for all engineering, are working together with the Squidget team to create a safe and noiseless alternative to the most disruptive and potentially self-harming fidgeting habits. It is a much sought after and preferred choice to other fidgeting toys currently on the market and deemed disruptive by teachers.
Inspiration to Invention
The Squidget was originally invented by Naomi Cher, Co-Founder of Squidget Company, Inc., to help her best friend. “Her friend experienced ‘deep nail pressure satisfaction’,” explains Jerry, continuing, “this means her method of fidgeting involved pressing her nails into her skin so hard that the skin breaks… which sometimes led to infection.”
Of course, Naomi did not like to see her friend suffering from her fidgeting behaviors, so she set forth to find a solution.
“Naomi is incredible with observing human behavior, and constructing a mechanical replication for it,” Jerry says. “The very first fidgeting solution she created was made of Sculpey™ clay and jewelry parts… and her friend still has it.”
The Importance of Fidgeting
The Squidget does not aim to eliminate fidgeting altogether. In fact, its creators are aware of the benefits of fidgeting, as supported by research (such as dissipating extra energy to enable focus and concentration, by activating the limbic system). In fact, approximately two million student-learning years are irrecoverably lost each year to disruptive fidgeting, according to an analysis done by Team Squidget.
“We’ve also found in numerous cases, fidgeting has been proven to be very disruptive when using most of the other available “Desk Toy” type of products,” tells Jerry, as he explains how the Squidget differs from many other fidget devices on the market.
“We created a design that is small, so it fits discretely in your palm—it’s like a hand babysitter,” tells Jerry. “It has seven attachments so you can choose which one best helps you focus.” These seven attachments are all designed to resemble different behaviors, including:
Deep nail pressure satisfaction
Jerry and Sean have already received plenty of great feedback about the Squidget from school principals, teachers, PT/OT experts, and of course parents and children. “We’ve even had someone who spends a lot of time on conference calls tell us that they never hit dial without picking up a Squidget, because it helps them stay focused on the call.”
Who is the Squidget For?
There is a lot of excitement about the Squidget from a variety of communities. The head of a Neurosurgical program has mentioned he would like to run an experiment using the Squidget to determine the effect it has on post-op recovery, commenting that he believes it may have “significant impact opportunities for patients.”
Educators are also very interested in the Squidget, as a proven and safe way to help most of their students focus in the classroom without disrupting other students. This is one of the ways that the Squidget sets itself apart from many of the cubical “Desk Toys” being banned in many schools.
How the H800 Has Helped
The Squidget team has three Afinia H800 3D printers in the “Squidget Cave”, and Sean has an H400 at home, as well. “We’ve 3D printed about 200 Squidgets in four months… which has partly been thanks to Afinia’s great sales and support team,” shares Jerry. “Zack, Mike and John are very knowledgeable, and have always been available to help us work through any hiccups we have. And the machines are workhorses. They’re often running 24/7.”
Using 3D printing has been a great way both to prototype the Squidget, and create the interim product prior to production injection molding.
“It’s important to us that the product remains affordable,” says Jerry. “We need to walk the walk. As a future “B Corporation” we have a very clear social mission… we aim to do good within the community and help people.”
If you’d like to help Squidget with their mission, please support them on their Indiegogo campaign that is launching May 31st, at www.afinia4squidget.com. The Squidget team has promised four special drawings (one for each category) after the campaign, should they meet their campaign goal, with potential prizes including Afinia supplies, or even a new H400 printer* for those pledging at the District Level.
*Prizes not sponsored by Afinia. All prizes sponsored by Team Squidget.
Scott Hamilton is a professor of archaeology at Lakehead University, a small university in northern Ontario. He also runs a small consulting operation (Hamilton Archaeological Consulting), and has recently incorporated 3D printing into his repertoire.
Focusing on Community
Although Hamilton works at the university, a large part of his research (both academic and consulting) involves community-based work. “I frequently work with aboriginal communities to identify what their research priorities are and figure out how to address those priorities,” he shares.
“A big priority is protecting their land-based interests,” explains Hamilton, “Especially as the Supreme Court of Canada has clarified the operational meaning of aboriginal treaty rights. However, First Nations also interested in sustainable resource development, regional and economic development, and articulating to youth what it means to be aboriginal—communicating their heritage and relationship to the land.”
Communities have had Hamilton work with their knowledge holders to figure out how to teach young people about traditional culture (and what their aboriginal heritage means) in new ways. “That’s really where I see 3D printing coming in handy,” he shares.
3D Printing Accessible Educational Materials
“Many communities I work with are remote (fly-in, with no roads), which means taking students on trips to see museums is frequently impossible,” Hamilton explains. “We face the questions ‘how do you provide heritage education in these kinds of circumstances? How do we provide interactive education that will truly engage adolescent students in archaeology, without the use of broadband internet?’ And it seems like 3D printing is a great answer.”
Hamilton has decided to test that answer using the Afinia H800 3D printer. “My aim is to scan and recreate stone, bone, wood and antler tools that are durable enough to be used as educational materials in schools or as travelling exhibit materials,” he says. “The prints solve an enormous problem, since they’re easily re-printable if something breaks.”
The price point of the printer and materials is also a benefit when it comes to creating these models. “Small regional universities don’t have much money, and communities don’t have a lot of cash,” shares Hamilton. “So this might be a very effective way of bringing educational materials that otherwise would be completely inaccessible to rural communities.”
A Work in Progress
A comparison between the original artifact from the Brohm Site, a ca. 9000 year-old occupation along Glacial Lake Minong, and 3D-printed models: Original (A), raw 3D print (D), two versions of the painted 3D print (B & C). Click to enlarge.
Hamilton is well on his way to introducing these valuable educational materials to schools. “We’ve already printed a number of stone artifacts. Some of objects are about 9,000-years-old, and we are working toward getting the 3D prints as accurate and realistic as possible. For example, we’ve experimented with different filament types and colors and found that details are much more visible with black filament rather than the natural white that comes with the printer.”
With all of the different experiments Hamilton has done to increase the accuracy of the models, he admits it has taken them awhile to get to where they are currently. “We are just perfectionist nerds,” he laughs. “But overall, we’ve had great success.”
Hamilton readily attributes part of the success they’ve had to one of his graduate students. “She has wonderful artistic ability and is using acrylic paints on the 3D prints to replicate the color and spackling from original artifacts. When you look at the originals and compare them to the painted models, unless you touch them and really know what differences to look for, they are incredibly similar. In an exhibit, you wouldn’t notice the difference, so I’d say we are getting pretty darn close to museum quality, if we aren’t already there.”
It won’t be much longer until Hamilton gets his answer on what museums think of the quality. “I’ve sent off some models with graduate students headed to Winnipeg, where a colleague curator will take a look at them and give us some feedback about whether they are museum-grade. I think he’s going to be fairly happy with them. If the quality is good enough, commissioning for museums may be another opportunity for us.”
Why the Afinia H800?
Comparison between a second Brohm Site artifact: Original artifact (A), the model from the affordable H800 (B), and model printed on a high-end, expensive 3D printer (C). Click to enlarge.
“The university I work for has a high-end 3D printer, but the prints aren’t durable,” Hamilton explains. “Since we aim to create materials that will be traveling and handled by students, they need to be strong. I was attracted to the H800 because it’s affordable, has manageable print costs, and had received great reviews.”
Another draw was the H800’s ease of use. “I wanted to see if a late-middle-age academic could learn 3D printing without screwing it up!” he laughs. “My tech and I spent maybe an hour and a half getting it set up, leveled, calibrated, etc. It was operational quite quickly.”
Hamilton says that he’d love to see the university with an Afinia H800, and actually bought the 3D printer himself to get started on a proof of concept. “Universities can be very conservative about how they spend money,” he explains, “so I am demonstrating how the H800 would be a great use of the budget. I’m very pleased with how my ‘experiment’ is going. The quality of prints is phenomenal, and the consumption of materials per print costs just pennies.”
Rosalee Ramer started driving monster trucks professionally at age 14. Now, at age 19, she is pursuing her Mechanical Engineering degree at Georgia Tech, and hopes to use it to improve her monster truck’s capabilities.
Rosalee Ramer is a lot of things: a daughter, friend, college student, and role model, who holds the title as the youngest professional female monster truck driver in the world.
Ramer knew from a young age that monster trucks were her passion. “My dad has raced my entire life, so I’ve been around the trucks as long as I can remember, helping out in any way I could.” Although Ramer recalls helping out with the trucks from about the age of three, it wasn’t until several years later that she got a true taste of their power from behind the steering wheel.
“The first time I drove a monster truck, I was 11,” she explains. “My dad was in a show finale, so his truck was on the track at the end of the event. I got to drive it off. I remember it clearly. It was so much fun, and all I did was ‘putt-putt!’”
But with a truck that has 1,300-1,500 horsepower, even a little “putt-putt” requires a lot of responsibility.
Ramer with her monster truck, “Wild Flower.” Photo credit: Janette Ramer
Prioritizing Her Passion
Growing up, Ramer explored a variety of activities. She has played piano, been in theater, and tried gymnastics and volleyball. “Only piano and monster trucks stuck,” she said. “The other things cut into my time on the road with the trucks, and I didn’t want that.”
Ramer recalls her overwhelming schedule when she tried to juggle so many activities: “I worked all day Saturday on trucks, and then drove 6-7 hours home so I could make it to my rehearsal on Sunday mornings. Something had to change. I don’t put half of myself into something… I put my all into it.”
Needless to say, she prioritized monster trucks.
Academics Come First
Although monster trucks are Ramer’s priority when it comes to extracurriculars, they don’t detract from her education. “School has always been #1. In order to drive monster trucks through school, straight A’s were a requirement,” Ramer explains.
The strong focus on education can partly be attributed to Ramer being the first member of her family to go to college. “I was the ‘smartie’ who liked school,” laughs Ramer, “so people naturally assumed I would go to school for a stereotypically ‘smart’ degree, like a medical doctor or lawyer.”
The Drive to be a ‘Maker’ with Mechanical Engineering
It wasn’t until one day when Ramer was working on her dad’s truck that a fan asked if she was a mechanic, and it hit her: “I wanted to get a degree in mechanical engineering. The thought never crossed my mind that I could go to college for that. I love using my hands to build things, and I’m creative.”
“The idea made everything fall into place,” Ramer continues, “and I realized being a doctor or lawyer weren’t the only two options.” Ramer is now a Sophomore at Georgia Tech, which she chose based on it’s great school ranking, the cultural feel, and her access to the school’s ‘Invention Studio.’”
The Invention Studio
Ramer’s 3D-printed miniature monster truck.
“Georgia Tech has a great makerspace with a 3D printing room, machine shop, laser printers, waterjet, and plenty of other equipment that they make available to students,” says Ramer, who explains that the 3D printing room includes about 25 3D printers, about 15 of which are Afinia brand.
Ramer’s first time using the 3D printer was for her mechanical engineering class. “We were instructed to create two pieces that somehow fit together. I wanted to make a mini monster truck with working suspension. The teacher warned me after looking at my design that I’d be spending a lot of time 3D printing,” tells Ramer, “but I thought ‘it’s my time, it’s what I want to do, I’m going to make it work’… and I did.”
Ramer’s teacher was so impressed with her creation, she wanted to show it off to the class. “The design even used springs from a mechanical pencil for the shocks,” she says.
Benefits of 3D Printing
Ramer is very thankful for her access to 3D printing at Georgia Tech. “I know a lot about manufacturing, since I’m close to the engineers for the monster trucks,” Ramer says, “but as a student coming in, using 3D printers was a big part of learning about manufacturing.”
“They are easy to use, and help teach what the manufacturing process entails. The printers show that even if things are perfect on the computer, it might not come out that way on the 3D printer or CNC machine.”
Ramer plans to improve her monster truck with knowledge gained while pursuing her degree. Photo credit: Andrew Fielder
Ramer is looking forward to attaining her degree, and using her knowledge, along with 3D printers, to improve the driving experience. “There’s so much possibility with 3D printing… building something from the ground up, there’s no limits on what you can make. I’m really excited to continue using it to find new ways to improve my monster truck’s center of gravity.”
Being in the spotlight, Ramer also plans to continue setting a good example for young girls. “One thing I love about monster trucks is how we have so much access to our fans. We get to interact with them every weekend, and the ability to interact with people like that is an amazing feeling,” tells Ramer. “Little girls come up to me and say they want to be like me. They see that I’m dedicated to both school and my sport, and that they can go hand-in-hand.”
Afinia 3D Printers are great for for educators, engineers, and hobbyists alike, and for good reason. They are affordable, easy to use, and create quality prints. Now, a recent study published by The Built Environment Research Group reinforces why the H400 and H800+ should be of high interest to makers of all kinds. Especially those who use, or plan to use, their 3D printers in enclosed spaces like classrooms, offices, or at home.
3D Printing and UFP Emission
Using a 3D printer inevitably creates UFPs (ultrafine particles). It’s important to note that UFPs are present in everyday life. For example, common household UFPs include animal dander, smoke (from cooking oils and/or tobacco), and dust. Although we are exposed to these emissions on a daily basis, the EPA suggests limiting exposure, especially in confined areas.
Both the Afinia H400 and H800+ 3D Printers have an enclosed design and HEPA filtration systems that help reduce exposure to these UFP emissions. When tested, the H800+ enclosure design reduced UFP emissions by 74%, and the HEPA filtration system reduced emissions by a whopping 91%. These design elements can help those who create using 3D printers do so in a safer manner.
Non-enclosed 3D Printers
If you currently own a 3D printer that is not enclosed, or does not have a HEPA filtration system, note that PLA filament has been shown to result in lower UFP emission than ABS.
Sam Jarrett is the President of Modification Fabrication, a compression molding business using DAP (diallyl phthalate) in Harrisonville, Missouri, that has been around for over 40 years.
“The first time I saw a 3D printer, I knew it was going to change manufacturing forever,” says Jarrett. “I knew I wanted to add one to the company, but a 3D printer is not a small purchase, so I spent about a year and a half researching different 3D printers.”
On top of his research, Jarrett also frequently discussed 3D printing with the man who sells him drills. “We’d talk about 3D printers any time he came by the office,” says Jarrett. “He actually sells a couple of different 3D printer brands, one of which is the Afinia. Based on my research and discussions with him, I determined the Afinia H800 was the way to go.”
Previous 3D Printing Experience Not Required
Although Jarrett did not have previous 3D printing experience, it was not an issue. “That’s part of what makes this so awesome,” he adds, “I had read some books, including 3D Printing for Dummies, which talked a lot about the maker movement, and people building their own 3D printers. I’m pretty mechanically inclined, but didn’t want the hassle, and went with the H800 for a more ‘just hit print’ option.”
“The H800 has been absolutely awesome. The day I got the machine, I set it up, and even without prior experience, was printing something within about 15 minutes,” remarks Jarrett. “I’m not a computer guy. I’m a mechanical guy. But the Afinia software is easy to use. The learning curve for me was mostly familiarizing myself with CAD to create the files. The rest is simple. I run the printer for about 15-20 hours per week, and it hums right along. I’ve only had one clogged extruder, but, admittedly, it was user error, and was easily fixed.”
Saving ‘Tons’ of Time
Jarrett admits he’s been very pleased with how adding 3D printing has affected his business. “I mainly use the H800 to create parts that make my job easier and quicker. It’s honestly saved us tons of time.”
Jarrett’s 3D-printed dipper cup, next to a fixture designed to hold molded parts to be machined.
One of the main parts Jarrett has used the H800 to create is 3D-printed, custom-size dipper cups. Typically, a worker has to fiddle with the scale to measure out the powder by weight, but Jarrett converts it to volume, and 3D prints the correct size dipper cup.
“Right away, the staff was commenting on how the process was so much faster,” he says, adding, “You can imagine how much time it saves when you’re molding thousands of pieces and don’t have to use the scale for each piece.”
Jarrett has also had a lot of success with using the H800 for rapid prototyping. “Whenever I make a mold, that’s how the part is going to be forever. But with 3D printing, you have a design CAD computer file that you can easily adjust,” Jarrett explains. “If my client wants to make a modification, I just make adjustments to the file. No new tooling. Just a simple tweak on the computer, and send it to the printer again.”
“Even though it may be less expensive to order a part from China, the lead time is so much less with 3D printing. I can have a part to a customer in a day, and they can inspect it, determine if they need any changes, and have a final product in a fraction of the time.”
Creating New Service Opportunities
Jarrett is also experiencing an unexpected benefit of having the H800 on board: once customers found out he has a 3D printer, they’ve started requesting prints. “They send me a 2D drawing, then I make it 3D and send it to the 3D printer. I’ve gotten great reviews on how accurate the prints are. It’s great to be able to add this as another service we can offer to customers.”
Modification Fabrication has thrived for 40 years without a website, and gets customers through word of mouth. To contact Sam, email is best: modandfabinc[at]embarqmail[dot]com.