Mechanical engineering students place second in national competition
Six senior mechanical engineering students recently placed second for their design of a 3D printer. They were competing in a national design competition, the Canadian Society for Mechanical Engineering (CSME) National Design Competition for three-dimensional, or 3D, Printing.
The competition was open to all Canadian engineering undergraduate or technical college students enrolled in engineering degree or diploma programs. This was the third year that the competition has been held, but the first time that a team from Memorial has competed.
“We established the CSME MUN Chapter last year, said Javier Valdés, team lead. “Once the Chapter was established, we started looking for events to get involved in and decided to participate in this competition.”
Competing teams were tasked with designing and building a 3D printer from materials readily available in the market for under $300.
While the team from Memorial used a materials kit provided by the organizers, their 3D printer was innovative in several ways.
The team wanted to combine large printing volume, two print heads, a heated bed and calibrating instruments. According to Mr. Valdés, it is difficult to find a low-cost 3D printer with this combination of features.
“One of the ways our printer was unique is that it has two printing heads,” said Mr. Valdés. “This means it can create an object that is made from two different materials. We also used sensors for auto-levelling, which means that the two printing heads position themselves before every print, resulting in higher-quality parts. Also, the heated bed allows for a broader range of printing materials. Instead of being able to print only with acid (PLA), we can print plastics that require very high temperatures.”
The combination of features means that the objects printed by the Altus Mark 1, which is the name of Memorial’s 3D printer, are very high quality.
The team from Memorial was one of 10 teams competing in the competition, which required teams to mail in a prototype and submit two reports and a marketing video online. They won Best Business Plan, which earned them a second place finish alongside the team from McGill University, which won Best Technical Proposal. The team from Concordia University placed first with Best Overall Design.
The student design team, which was mentored by mechanical engineering professor Dr. Oscar DeSilva, consisted of Javier Valdés, Clara Decan, Evan Kearley, Bassem Hanna, Joshua Thorne and Artem Chashchin.
"This project was self-initiated by the student group and completed at an impressive pace,” said Dr. Oscar De Silva. “The students pretty much figured out the technicalities and the design on their own. Hats off to a job well done!"
The team was presented with their award at the 2017 CANCAM Conference in Victoria, B.C.
To view Memorial’s team video, go to: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IA2dlsTtVzY