My son Ben, 17, was on track to graduated high school this past spring from Souhegan High School in Amherst, NH. As part of the requirements for graduation, all students must complete and pass a senior project. A project subject can be almost anything that the student is interested in. The goal of the project is to have the student go through the process of stating a main objective, following through on the steps to complete the objective and then report on it to a group of peers and advisers. Students must find an outside expert to help them through the process in areas that they do not have the expertise. The senior project is about a three month process with milestones to meet along the way.
Many students choose hobbies or interests such as rock climbing, cooking or any other subject imaginable. The complexity and knowledge of the subjects vary widely and can make a difference in how much time is needed to complete the assignment. Since Ben really enjoyed his engineering, physics, math classes and his involvement with First Robotics his project had a more technical direction.
Ben chose what I would consider the upper end of the complexity scale for a high school student. The project was how to take a 2D picture of his favorite car, a 1990 BMW M3 E-30, bring it into a SolidWorks environment, create a 3D representation of it and then print the car out in a 3D Printer. Sounds simple right? Well as he soon found out it’s a very involved undertaking, learning these new technologies and applying them.
The project required Ben to develop these and other SolidWorks skills in order to accomplish the task
- Sketching, Planes
- Solids – Extrusions, Boss and Cuts
- Boundary Surfaces and Fills
With the guidance of his outside expert, Principal Engineer Keith Pederson of CAPINC, Ben proceeded with constructing the 1990 BMW M3 E-30 model as summarized in these screen shots.
Once the 3D representation was complete, Ben had to make sure that all surfaces are turned into solids for 3D printing and it also needed to be scaled to fit the 3D Printer build envelope.
With the SolidWorks file was saved as a STL file in SolidWorks, Ben was ready to prepare for 3D Printing. The system he would use is the Fortus 250mc from Stratasys. The 250mc has the ability to print ABS at 0.007” layering in 9 colors and has a build envelope of 10” x 10” x 12”, plenty of space for the 9” model.
In order to minimize the consumption of ABS material and speed up the build process, Ben used a feature know as Sparse mode. Sparse mode maintains the exterior walls of the car while creating a honeycomb-like interior. This feature is very popular with Stratasys 3D printer users as a method to reduce the amount build material used.
The print time to build the 1990 BMW M3 E-30 replica on the Fortus 250mc was about 13hrs.
The project was a great success and was well received by his advisers and peers. The completion of the project not only allowed Ben to graduate, but also increased his skills in working with exciting technologies that will help prepare him for his future. Students all over the United States are facing the same challenges of learning and applying new technologies. CAPINC is a proud supporter of educational projects – contact us if you’re working on one!