On a team of six University of Waterloo engineering students, I had the opportunity to work on this 3D Printer. We were commissioned by a professor on campus who needed a way to print a novel biomaterial that would, when hardened, act like bone. We set out to create a 3D Printer which would print layers of helices around a cylindrical tube and build the layers outward like rings on a tree trunk.
Step 1: Collecting User Requirements
Task Analysis through Observation
To generate our first set of user requirements, we tested a low fidelity prototype and observed each task required to print ink on the low fidelity prototype. This was built very simply using a motor controller system we could borrow from a staff member at the University of Waterloo and a couple aluminum rods machined to our desired length. Shown below is a picture of the low fidelity prototype and the results from the task analysis.
Step 2: Early Design Stages
After creating our low fidelity prototype we used the task analysis results to create storyboards explaining how someone will use the machine. From that we were able to design our full printer in CAD.
After getting very helpful feedback from a couple of our professors we decided to go through a couple more iterations of our frame design. After iterating throughout January through more than 5 different frame designs and reconfigurations we chose a final model, which can be seen below. Then we ordered the parts we were able to and machined the rest.
This project is still continuing and will continue until the end of April 2017. Right now we are finishing assembling our 3D printer and will begin testing it shortly.