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FSU Tag Line
 
Engineering students save FSU thousands of dollars
By Rose Gause

Mass Communication '20
Social Marketing Team writer
12/8/2017

Jacob Williams, Tolerance in Process Analyst and Aili Wade, Additive Manufacturing Lab Manager
Jacob Williams, Tolerance in Process Analyst and Aili Wade, Additive Manufacturing Lab Manager
Over the past few months, some may have experienced malfunction when it came to entering and exiting through the doors of the Lane University Center. This was due to a broken door part known as a housing unit for the circuit board. The piece protects the circuit board which is responsible for the opening, closing, locking, and unlocking of the door. The University looked into finding a replacement for the part, but the part was outdated and no longer available for purchase. Without this part, the only way for the door to function properly would require the entire door to be replaced —  costing approximately $1,000 for each door. Fortunately, Jon Diamond, program specialist, knew the physics and engineering department had 3D printers. So, he reached out to Duane Miller, Additive Manufacturing Lab Coordinator and academic lab manager for the Physics and Engineering Department, to ask if they could make a replica of the part.  
 
Multiple courses in the physics and engineering department have design projects. Mechanical engineering majors, junior Aili Wade and senior Jacob Williams were the students in the new Physics and Engineering Department Additive Manufacturing Lab tasked with the project of replicating the housing unit for the circuit board.  
 
Under the guidance of Miller, Wade, additive manufacturing lab manager, and Williams, tolerance and process analyst, replicated the prototype using the MakerBot Replicator Z18 3D printer. After replicating the housing, they decided to improve upon the original design. They identified the points on the part that were breaking due to stress and began the redesign process.  
“We decided to do the redesign, they were happy with the original part and we said no we’re not happy with that let’s make something good for you,” says Wade.   
 
The engineering majors used the Autodesk Inventor Software to create and simulate possible impacts the prototype would endure. They then converted their part files into STereoLithography (STL) files. These files are sometimes also referred to as standard triangle language files because they break 3D part files down into multiple slices (the exact number depends on the desired quality of the STL file) and then breaks each slice into a pattern of triangles that forms the overall shape of the part at each layer. 
 
When they redesigned the part, their first prototype included longer barrier strips which were on the original part. They also added thin, angled flaps that would bend, but not break and increase the time the impact takes in order to reduce the load felt by the unit at any given time. This prototype was printed using the MakerBot Replicator Z18. However, the flaps were too small so the prototype did not print at the quality the engineering students desired. They then modified the prototype by making the flaps larger and increasing their distance from the rest of the unit.  
 
The MakerBot Replicator Z18 has an extruder that gets very hot and turns a thin string of plastic into a liquid and builds up parts layer by layer by tracing the outline of each slice created in the STL file. This type of rapid prototyping is called fused deposition modeling (FDM). As the plastic cools back into a solid, the plastic to shrinks and warps which requires the actual dimensions of any printed parts to be altered in order to come out as drawn. The Formlabs Form 2 3D printer is a different type of printer called stereolithography apparatus (SLA) which means that it prints by using a UV laser to solidify liquid photopolymer resin. The laser again traces the shape of each layer. This type of rapid prototyping creates more layers in the part, therefore creating a better finish. SLA printing is also more accurate than FDM because the resin does not undergo much temperature change, making any warping negligible.  
 
Two of these prototypes are currently being tested in the Lane University Center doors in order to test their functionality. A potential problem is the constant expansion and contraction of the door due to temperature changes. Sometime in the beginning of December, Miller, Wade, and Williams will check the prototypes. If everything is working properly, they will begin looking for more durable materials to withstand the impact of the opening and closing of the doors.  
Although the current redesign of the part is satisfactory, there is still potential for improvement. Regardless of the improvements that have been made, the part can be printed, cured in a UV light, and ready for use in no more than 5 hours and for no more than $10 a door even if the durability of the plastic is increased. 
 
“We started doing these projects in classes in 2014 and three years later we are helping the University produce parts. We are eager to find these types of things to work on because the outcome of it is that we can save the university money and it’s a learning experience. It is a win, win for everyone. This project could actually be a project we transfer into an engineering classroom for the students to solve because we will already know this outcome…As far as engineers, Aili and Jacob in their future when they leave Frostburg are going to solve problems using a process similar to this every day for someone,” says Miller.  
Wade is a head resident in Edgewood and member of Kappa Mu Epsilon, a math honor society. She has applied to internships for different defense companies, but is currently unsure of her future career. 
 
Williams is vice president of the engineering club, a member of President’s Leadership Circle, and a brother of Phi Sigma Pi. After graduation, he plans to work for Northrop Grumman, a global security company.   
 

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