Jon Christie is a Design Student at Dundee University. He approached us at the CREATE Education Project to develop his research into the use of 3D Printing as a Rapid Manufacturing tool. This is the first blog in the series of blogs by Jon to be shared throughout his final year at University.
My project will look into new ways of highlighting the ability of 3D Printing to be a supplementary/complementary production process to conventional manufacturing rather than simply an additional means of producing 3D parts. Rapid Prototyping becomes Rapid Manufacture. This will be the focus of my lectures.
What does this mean in plain English?
My plan is to design furniture, starting with a dining chair.
I will be swapping out the traditional wooden joints, still used in most furniture today and replacing them with 3D printed ones.
New printing materials are appearing on the market with much greater strength than previously available. Some of these materials are now as strong, if not stronger than traditional hardwoods (I am not including printable metals in this project, as they are too costly and quite heavy). One of the new materials is XT-CF20 from Colourfabb (www.colorfabb.com) a Nylon/Carbon Fibre composite. This is the material I will be using.
The printer I will use to create the components will be the Original Ultimaker, developed through open source and by far the best option available in its price range. I spent 4 or 5 days just researching printers and watching YouTube clips before I chose Ultimaker. The Ultimaker Original has been manufactured since early 2011 and still provides better print quality than anything produced today in its price bracket.
My university (University of Dundee) purchased two Ultimaker 2 printers recently, however gaining access to these can be limited in terms of the time available to print. Most of the printed components for the chair I am designing will take a little longer to print than the universities 9-5 policy allows so I was left with two options; A) Travelling several hundred miles down to the University of Derby and printing there or B) Purchasing my own printer at around £900, something most students couldn’t even consider.
I reached out to Ultimaker explaining my difficulties and asked if there was anything they could do to help support or sponsor my work. I was amazed to receive a reply putting me in contact with the UK team at Ultimaker GB. I made contact with their education team who via their amazing open source CREATE Education Project facilitate access to 3D printers for educational use via a loan scheme for schools, colleges and universities.
As part of the loan agreement I will be sharing a monthly blog update throughout my degree year on my work and the capabilities of the technology from Ultimaker in making my work possible. I’m absolutely thrilled to bits. The projects can now go ahead and I will have the ability to experiment with different part densities, fills and surface finishes. None of the testing and prototyping would have been possible without the support and sponsorship from Ultimaker and their CREATE Education Project.
4th Year Design Student, University of Dundee