Mar 06

A Future In 3D

David Richelson

David Richelson

By Kettering student David Richelson

There is no limit to what you can print these days. If you can dream it, you can print it. I’m currently a student in MECH-572 CAD/CAM Rapid Prototyping and had the opportunity to interview Professor Zang. He started off by showing me a 3” model of the bulldog on the beach. One of the previous Capstone classes took pictures with a plain digital camera, uploaded it, used software to convert it to a 3D model, and then printed it.

He showed me his cabinet on the ground floor of the Mott of previous Capstone projects which included hips, artificial knee prototypes, wheel rims, a working crescent wrench, and backpack male and female parts of the clip. Any ME remembers the sleepless nights of trying to finish their MECH-100 final project trying to get this curve to match with this curve, but many of these curved parts were made using a feature called Non Uniform Rational B-Splines (NURBS for short). One uses NURBS by pushing and pulling on points on a line, in the same way as one would change their route on Google Maps. The line is then revolved and made into a solid. This is the same technique they use in the auto industry when they are designing exteriors.

3D printing is sneaking its way into every industry. In dentistry, a knocked out tooth can be scanned, and a replacement can be printed. If the tooth is missing, the dentist can scan the surrounding teeth, and make a custom tooth using NURBS. One of the biggest strengths of 3D printing is the ability to make custom parts, which is why it is finding its way into the medical field. Doctors are able to print custom hips, elbows, and shoulders for replacements now that some 3D printers can use titanium and chromium.

If you’re involved with Kettering Entrepreneur Society, and you have a great idea, talk to Professor Zang to have it printed on one of our three printers. The industry is shifting to make room for this new technology, and so is Kettering. Professor Zang is currently filing for a capital request to purchase 10 printers for MECH-100 and 10 printers for IME-100. The ME department is excited to see what these fresh minds can come up with and I am too.