3D Printer Design

Designs are conceptualized to create a functional, budget-conscious 3D printer.

In the spring of 2014, Nathan and a team of three colleagues at UofT were given the task of conceptualizing a relatively inexpensive 3D printer as part of a course project. The primary function of any hobbyist PLA or ABS plastic 3D printer is to extrude successive layers of molten material, beginning at the base and finishing at the top, to form the desired 3D-printed object. His team researched existing 3D printing technology, both currently on the market and hobbyist-created. As somewhat of a product benchmarking exercise, this allowed the team to get a gauge on the types of strategies that hobbyists and companies used to manufacture their components, as well as the types of features that the average printer might possess.

Nathan began by selecting the materials to be used and each individual component’s dimensions such that they adhered to operational, cost and tolerancing constraints. Prior to any time spent on CAD, how individual components would interface and be assembled was fleshed out through the use of rough sketches. Nathan then modeled and assembled each of the design’s components using Solidworks software.

Special consideration went towards material weight, speed & fluidity of movement, and every decision’s inevitable material and production costs. Nathan worked with his teammates to form tolerancing and functional calculations validating that the design would perform to the degree required, and a final conceptual product design was soon reached. The team collectively presented a final report, where the utilization of individual components, materials, processes, etc. were discussed and justified.