The University of Applied Sciences Ravensburg-Weingarten, in Germany, challenged their students to change the way they approach the design and manufacturing process. The result? A fully customizable self-balancing scooter manufactured solely through 3D printing.
The University is participating in a large project focused on establishing a fully integrated and automated digital development process. They aim to overcome current limitations of traditional small-scale manufacturing (i.e. producing 1 unit). The project is sponsored by many industry leaders, with Porsche and Siemens leading the group.
Additive manufacturing was the center of attention throughout the entire process. Everything from design to creation and testing was centered around the 3D printing process. This allowed the students to create a fully functional prototype 85% faster than could be done with traditional manufacturing methods.
How was it Built?
This first-of-its-kind self-balancing scooter was not created with a small desktop 3D printer. The students had access to some of the industries best and most powerful 3D printers. This allowed for the bigger pieces to be printed in one piece for a sturdier build.
The frame and platform of the self-balancing scooter were printed on the Stratasys Fortus 900mc Production 3D Printer. These parts were printed using Nylon6 material. In order to achieve grip on the Nylon6, the students used Gilus30 material on the Stratasys Connex3 Color Multi-material 3D Printer to create a rubber-like cover. The cover was fitted to the frame and platform of the self-balancing scooter.
Dr.-Ing. Markus Till, Head of Department Mechanical Engineering at University of Ravensburg-Weingarten had this to say about his students work, “We realized that 3D printing offers the best possible manufacturing solution for an ideal executable product development method for a customized product. We designed the entire product development process around Stratasys’ additive technologies, enabling us to quickly design and produce a fully-functional prototype of a geometry that was previously too complex to be created through any other traditional method – offering the first viable alternative for quick and cost-effective customized production.”
Addition is The New Subtraction
According to Till, the student’s mindset has completely changed for product development once they realized the capabilities of 3D printing for manufacturing. 3D printing is able to handle more complex parts than traditional methods such as mills and molds. As well, 3D printers take a fraction of the time it takes to manufacture the same part with subtractive manufacturing.
This change in thought, for designers and engineers, to think additively is the first step to changing the entire product development cycle. As Till puts it, “When creating a customized product, the bottleneck is usually manufacturing as tools, molds and specific fixtures need to be made – this takes a long time. With traditional methods, the manufacturing process would have taken us three weeks. With Stratasys 3D printing this phase was reduced to four days, which is a huge time-saving.”
The new school of thought will enable us to get more creative with customization. We are beginning to see a change of mindset in manufacturing and design that we have ben anticipating for a while. As educators continue to evolve the way their students learn, we will see these concepts catch-on at an exponential rate. This will greatly benefit the entire 3D printing industry.
News/photos via: Businesswire