Surprise Me: 3D Printing, Development, and Manufacturing Ideas…

Over the last couple of days, I have produced an accurate 3D printed model of my inhaler design. For this I used the Makerbot Replicator II, and printed in corn starch. The advantage of using the 3D printer is that models can be produced accurately and rapidly. I printed the components individually, using my CAD models directly to translate the design to the printer language. Overall the model took around three hours to print, however printing is just the beginning of the rapid prototyping process. I then had to remove the supports from the model, these are printed below and around the pieces. I also spent around an hour sanding each component, as the 3D printer produces models in layers, the surface has some bumps and texture. The nature of the corn starch is very similar to a plastic, and as a result it is often mistaken for being so, however the advantage of components being made from starch, is that the components are completely compostable.

Having finally removed all the excess support materials, and having sanded the components, I was able to put them together and gain a better insight into their fit together. From this I realised that the reel shaft was too tall to fit correctly, an additional loop to hold the ribbon in place, and that the holes for the magnets were both too shallow and slightly misaligned. These are things which I can modify using CAD. Later in the evening I decided to paint my components. Ideally, I would have like to use spray paints, but on this occasion I used the resources available to me at home, and hand painted the components, eventually using around five coats and some further sanding to produce an outcome. At a later date I would be keen to sand this paint back and use an airbrush. I’m also keen to speak to our metal working technician about producing a cast aluminium model in the university foundry.

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