Tag Archive | "3D Printer"

Pierson Robotics Team Wins 3D Printer to Help with Bot Building

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A member of the Pierson Robotics Team works on Sag Harbor's robot. Photo courtesy Gayle Pickering.

A member of the Pierson Robotics Team works on Sag Harbor’s robot. Photo courtesy Gayle Pickering.

By Tessa Raebeck

In a contest with more than 4,000 competitors, the Pierson High School Robotics Team has won a 3-dimensional printer, which is already being used to make parts for this year’s robot.

Each year, the robotics team, First Robotics Competition (FRC) Team 28, competes in an international competition at Hofstra University against teams from other Long Island high schools but from as far away as Canada, Brazil, and Israel.  Last year’s team went to the finals in St. Louis, and this year’s team is working hard in hopes of repeating the fate.

The robotics team meets twice a week for most of the year, but in January ramps it up to meetings every day for six weeks, leading up to “Stop Build Day” on February 17, when the completed robot is shipped to FIRST. The team continues to meet every day in preparation of the regional competition, held March 26 through 28.

The new EKOCYCLE 3D Printer, won by the Pierson Robotics Team. Photo courtesy Gayle Pickering.

The new EKOCYCLE 3D Printer, won by the Pierson Robotics Team. Photo courtesy Gayle Pickering.

This year’s competition, “Recycle Rush,” is focused on combining technology with environmental responsibility.

“Recycle Rush is a recycling-themed game played by two alliances of three robots each,” according to FIRST. “Robots score points by stacking totes on scoring platforms, capping those stacks with recycling containers, and properly disposing of pool noodles, representing litter. In keeping with the recycling theme of the game, all game pieces used are reusable or recyclable by teams in their home locations or by FIRST at the end of the season.”

To win the contest, two members of the team, Abigail Gianis and Clara Oppenheimer, wrote an essay explaining why Sag Harbor’s student engineers deserved the printer, an EKOCYCLE Cube Printer that uses a filament cartridge made with recycled material.

The FIRST Robotics Competition, which Pierson competes in annually, invited all registered teams to apply for one of approximately 1,600 printers, donated by 3D Systems and the Coca-Cola Company.

“They had basically a grant, that if you wrote a proposal and justified your need,” you would be awarded a printer, said Rob Coe, one of the team’s mentors.

“We went into detail about how we would incorporate it into our school to show both students and teachers the new kind of technology coming out,” said Abigail.

“We spoke about how our school embraces being eco-friendly,” she added. “The biggest point we made was regarding our robot. We spoke about how we would be able to print parts for our robot, so we could have the part we need in hours, as opposed to what could be weeks if we ordered a part.”

The essay competition is one example of how the robotics program doesn’t just teach students to manufacture robots, but also provides hands-on experience in marketing, teamwork, and real-world applications.

“There’s lots of talk about jobs and all the jobs are in technology and engineering and the U.S. is behind and we’re not putting out enough students to be able to fill those jobs—so this is a program that enables kids to gain that experience and go out into the real world and perform,” Clint Schulman, the faculty advisor to the robotics program, told the Sag Harbor Board of Education last month.

Already being used in the team’s shop, the printer immediately saved the team money and time, easing the robot-building process.

“We’ve been making a lot of parts for the robot,” Mr. Coe said, as the Ekocycle printed fervently. “We’re making hubs for motors, we’re making hooks for picking up the trash cans.”

“There’s already a bunch of printed parts in our robot,” added Abigail. “The printed parts allowed us to implement things into our bot that we haven’t been able to before because we lack a connector part—all we had to do is print out the connector and now it’s perfect.”

Hampton Library Showcases New 3D Printer for Bridgehampton

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Hampton Library Director Kelly Harris uses the library's new 3D printer on February 24. Photo by Michael Heller.

Hampton Library Director Kelly Harris uses the library’s new 3D printer on February 24. Photo by Michael Heller.

By Tessa Raebeck

After setting his beloved model train set aside years ago when a vital piece disappeared, an elderly Bridgehampton man was finally able to return to his hobby, thanks to a new 3D printer at the Hampton Library.

Delivered just before Christmas, the new Makerbot 3D printer will enable the library to offer more programs to kids and teenagers, teach other libraries about the innovative technology and provide the community with a practical, useful tool.

“There’s a variety of different things you can really come out and do with your 3D printer,” said Kelly Harris, the library’s director. “If you just have the thought, the imagination, to come up with something to do with it, but also the ability to come up with practical uses for it, too—it’s not just a wow factor thing, it’s not just a cool thing to have—it can be really helpful.”

3D printing has been around since the 1980s, but it wasn’t until the last five years that the technology became widely available for commercial use. Designs can be self-created using computer software or by chosing a model from Thingiverse, a global community in which people share designs for use on any Makerbot printer, to make three-dimensional solid objects in any color and virtually any shape.

“Right now we’re printing a heart, which is made out of different movable gears, and we’re printing that in sparkly, translucent red,” Ms. Harris said.

With funds raised by the Friends of the Hampton Library, the library purchased a 3D printer, a digitizer, which scans objects to turn them into designs to then be printed, and some plastic filament, “which is sort of the ink for the printer,” said Ms. Harris, who estimates the total cost at around $3,500.

After the printer arrived, librarians spent January becoming familiar with the new technology. The Bridgehampton Association provided the library with a $750 grant to send Ms. Harris and four librarians to classes at the Makerbot store in New York City and to purchase more plastic filament. In March, the librarians are taking a class on the Replicator 2, the Makerbot model the library owns. Ms. Harris attended a 3D design class last Sunday.

“We learned how to do some basic 3D design stuff which would be to take something called a primitive shape, which are your basic shapes—your circles, your spheres, your cylinders, cones, things of that nature—and merge them together to build different things. So, you can actually merge them together to build like a little robot or design a sculpture,” she said.

The Hampton Library started its promotional push for the printer this month, printing parts for people to “sort of see it in action, see what we can do,” Ms. Harris said. In early March, the library will host the monthly Technology Information Forum meeting for the Suffolk County Library Association’s Computer and Technical Services Division to show other libraries what the printer is capable of, discuss different online printing programs and demonstrate how the technology works.

3D Design classes for kids and teenagers will start at the library in the spring. “It’s something new, it’s something different, it’s something where they can try and design something on their own. And then we can print it for them in whatever color they like, or if they need it to be two-toned, we can actually print two colors. It’s actually a cool thing,” Ms. Harris said.

In addition to being “cool,” the printer has countless practical uses for the community. One patron is planning on printing a plastic washer to fix a leaking washing machine. The librarians started their training by printing out nuts and bolts. If a family loses a game piece, they can come to the library and print out a new one. Ms. Harris is currently working on a Parcheesi piece, but the possibilities are endless.

“You get those great big Lego sets and all you need is to lose one tiny piece and you can’t put together the battleship you’re making or the airplane,” she said. “Well, now you can really take a piece that’s like it, we can scan it, digitize it and we can print you a whole new working piece for that.”

Hopeful the Makerbot will be open for public printing by the fall, Ms. Harris first wants to ensure the librarians are well versed in the machine and prepared to troubleshoot the printer and professionally assist patrons with ease.

“At this point,” she said, “if somebody came in tomorrow and said, ‘Hey, look I just lost the symbol for my Monopoly game,’ we would find a way to print that for them and we would. It really is fun and the sky’s the limit. You’re only limited by your familiarity with the 3D design software—which we are getting better with every day—and then also, your imagination.”