Tennessee Tech Launches New Mobile Multitasking 3D Printer

Tennessee Tech University (TTU) announced today that it is launching TechBot, a mobile, multitasking 3D Printer designed, developed and fabricated by TTU faculty and students. TTU has applied for a provisional U.S. Patent on the 3D printer.

Although there are many 3D printers on the market today, the TechBot differs in its mobility. Most printers today demand a rigid frame structure. This new printer is not limited to a traditional work envelope as are other conventional 3D printers –  the user can define and set up their own work surface to print almost any type of material from the paste-based extruder.

TTU TechBot 3D Printer
TTU TechBot 3D Printer

This is another key difference with the TechBot – it does not use traditional 3D printer materials, such as, filament, powder, pellets, or resin that are commonly used in several other additive manufacturing processes. It has a paste-based method, using a syringe, to dispense any paste type material on any X and Y direction. It can do 200mm in height on the Z axis.

The team has found a number of uses and applications for this Mobile printer:

      • Using the TechBot mobile multitasking platform to develop a mobile tape applicator for multi-purpose gyms. This will result in a quick and precise method to convert a multi-purpose gym floor from a basketball court to a volleyball court.
      • The TechBot platform can also be used to incorporate a fast drying paint extruder to paint team logos onto arena floors. During Sports tournaments, the TechBot could paint both team logos onto an arena floor within minutes. This paint can be removed with the appropriate dissolver.
      • Another application for the TechBot platform is in the construction industry to extrude grout between tile gaps.

Other applications are being explored, across a wide range of areas, such as, 3D food printing (think cakes, pies, desserts) to circuit boards. The team has also looked into the printing of concrete structures with the TechBot. 

The TechBot is designed to incorporate 4 omnidirectional wheels at the corners which greatly improves the print accuracy. The extrusion head is incorporated within the frame of the TechBot, this makes it possible for one z-axis to be capable of printing multiple materials using different extrusion methods. The TechBot is also offered as a do-it-yourself (DIY) kit (assembly required).

TechBot is funded through NSF Award 1601587, Additive Manufacturing Workforce Advancement Training Coalition and Hub (AM-WATCH). Research Team Members are:

The TechBot team also received technical support from Ed Tackett (University of Louisville), Amy Elliott (Oak Ridge National Laboratory), Tom Singer (Sinclair Community College), and Mel Cossette (Edmonds Community College).

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Technical specs of the TechBot

  • Size: X-37cm Y-37cm Z-66cm
    • Max printing area: X-unlimited Y-unlimited Z-200mm
  • OmniWheels: 60mm diameter
  • Syringe Extruder: Uses a 150mL syringe
  • Driven by a 40mm Nema 17 motor with a 27:1 gear ratio
    • Lead screw is used for the up and down motion
  • Syringe Extruder frame was designed in house
    • Utilizes a filament run out sensor
  • Board: MKS GEN L V1.0 Board
    • Runs on marlin code
  • Stepper Motors: 4x 48mm Nema 17 stepper motors
    • Using Nema 17 motor mounts
  • Frame: 2020 aluminum extrusion
    • Size: 32cm x 32cm x 40cm
  • Aluminum corner brackets and right angle plates for a perfectly square frame
    • Z Axis: 34mm  Nema 17 stepper motor turning a lead screw for z axis movement
    • Supported by 2 linear guide rails with linear bearings

TEAMM Network Member Dr. Ismail Fidan Profiled In News

At TEAMM and AM News, we like to celebrate when our members receive recognition for their accomplishments. Recently, Dr. Ismail Fidan from Tennessee Tech University (TTU) was profiled in the regional newspaper, the Cookeville Herald-Citizen, for being a researcher focused on how additive manufacturing is making an impact on everyday life.

Dr. Ismail Fidan profiled in Cookeville Herald-Citizen

The article highlighted that, “Fidan Is working towards securing his 10th grant funded by the National Science Foundation, which would bring the amount of grants funded for his research to more than $4.6 million during his time at TTU, all related to additive manufacturing. He has been working in the field for nearly 15 years.”

The profile also mentions how he has worked “with other institutions to establish an additive manufacturing laboratory framework, including a smartphone app that helps institutions work together, collaborate and share resources for 3D printing projects.” This includes the AM lab at Edmonds Community College.

AM News, of course, has written about the importance of Dr. Fidan’s Golden Eagle Additively Innovative Virtual Lecture Series (SEE NOTE for last two events for Spring 2019 below), a web-based presentation series given by national and international experts in additive manufacturing. So far, the series has trained more than 500 people in the diverse applications of additive manufactur­ing. In addition to these web-based lectures, Fidan organizes an annual workshop on additive manufacturing to address gaps in the current knowledge base of technicians through the development of curriculum and educational materials and sup­port to more than 30 community college and high school instructors per year.

There is still time to join in on the final two lectures (click that above link for more info OR you can click this Zoom link in any web browser at 11am U.S. Central Standard Time):

      • Thursday, March 28: Preparing Your Model for 3D Printing with Adam Wills, Master II Instructor, Computer Aided Design Technology, Tennessee College of Applied Technology-Nashville
      • Thursday, April 18: Project iGen: Using Additive Manufacturing for Service Learning with Amy Fricks, Math Teacher, DeKalb County High School, Tennessee.

You can also peruse the entire 2016 through 2018 Additively Innovative Lecture Series archive here.

Hats off to Dr. Fidan for the recent media mention as well as his commitment to the combination of additive manufacturing and technician education.

Demand Grows For 3D Printing Technician Education At Undergraduate And Graduate Levels

There is a worldwide emphasis and need to increase skills in additive manufacturing. One only need look around at the number of educational and for-profit ventures building out detailed degree programs and curricula to see it.

In the news last month, Wichita State University announced a new 3D Printing Technician Graduate Certificate program at WSU. It is exciting to see this higher level program in addition to the many we see in motion and developing at community college and 4-year college programs.

Dr. Ismail Fidan at TTU
Dr. Ismail Fidan at TTU

We talked to TEAMM Collaboration Network member, Dr. Ismail Fidan, who is a professor of Engineering at Tennessee Tech and associate author of the Wohlers Report, updating the annual academic R&D and education trends in AM around the world. Dr. Fidan shared that “There is no fully dedicated AM degree program at the public community college and university level within the ABET accreditation records. But there are several manufacturing degree programs. I personally believe that there will be some coming in the future.”

According to Dr. Fidan, there are several Master and certification programs on AM around the world. Some of the more recent ones are the Metal AM MS Program which will be offered by Cranfield University, UK. SME also came up with an AM certification program for the Community College level. (Links below.)

AM News profiled the Somerset Community College Offers 3D Printing Technician Certificate in mid-2018. Thanks to Tennessee Tech University (TTU) College of Engineering with its Golden Eagle Additively Innovative Lecture Series, an online webinar event that reaches people around the world. We learned about the Somerset certificate program through the webinar.

Wohlers Associates (publisher of the above-mentioned report), also a TEAMM member, created a unique Design for Additive Manufacturing (DfAM) course that has since been requested by other companies and organizations. Terry Wohlers writes about the Impact of DfAM here.

Additive manufacturing is growing and its future looks bright. If you know of other degree programs and courses aimed at helping technicians, engineers, and other manufacturing specialists increase their skills, please get in touch so we can add them to our growing list and potential upcoming posts.

Further reference:

  • More info on the Wichita State University 3D Printing Technician Graduate Certificate program.
  • ABET is a nonprofit, ISO 9001 certified organization that accredits college and university programs in applied and natural science, computing, engineering and engineering technology.
  • Cranfield University in Bedford, UK, has just received official approval to launch a new Master’s Degree in Metal Additive Manufacturing. Now accepting applications for October 2019 intake, this MSc will give students direct access to the university’s state-of-the-art Wire + Arc Additive Manufacturing (WAAM) systems, and the chance to work on projects for the WAAMMat consortium of 20 industrial partners.
  • SME: The Additive Manufacturing Technician Certification is ideal for a candidate with a two-year associates degree in additive manufacturing or currently enrolled in a college program, and/or has one or more years of working experience in a manufacturing related field. The prep course covers key roles and responsibilities for an AM technician, the AM process chain, design for AM, material and process selection, secondary processes, and key safety considerations. The certification exam is a three-hour proctored, open-book and open-note exam consisting of 120 multiple choice questions.

 

Community Colleges Are Innovating and Incubating New Ideas And Companies

As the world changes, education moves to change with it. A new book on the power of community colleges to serve as new business incubators and innovation centers is about to hit the marketplace. Community Colleges as Incubators of Innovation: Unleashing Entrepreneurial Opportunities for Communities and Students by editors Rebecca Corbin, Ed.D. and Ron Thomas, Ph.D. offer a collection of expert contributors’ thoughts.

With the support of the National Association for Community College Entrepreneurship (NACCE), they “start from the premise that community colleges are uniquely positioned to lead entrepreneurial initiatives through both internally-generated curriculum design and through collaboration with the local entrepreneurial community to build bridges between the classroom to the community which in turn can offer models of implementation and constitute a network or support system for students. Community colleges can become incubators of innovation, a magnet for talent, and provide the impetus for development strategies that their communities have not begun to realize.”

At AM News, we hear about a lot of projects helping students to complete their degrees or certificates and get into the workforce. Colleges within the Technician Education in Additive Manufacturing & Materials (TEAMM) project actively work to advance technician education, particularly in materials science (and the adaption of ASTM skills standards).

TEAMM Network member schools are actively building makerspaces, innovation hubs, and entrepreneur research experiences, just to name a few of the concepts. In fact, we have profiled a number of them from Tennessee Technological University (TTU), University of Louisville (its Rapid Prototyping Center), and The Facility makerspace at Edmonds Community College.

TTU is consistently active in developing unique projects to engage students in an entrepreneurial way. Dr. Ismail Fidan is the Principal Investigator (PI) or Co-PI on numerous NSF Grant awards to keep these college-age innovators on their toes. Check out two of the TTU entrepreneurial initiatives coming out of the College of Engineering:

Community colleges continue to adapt to the ever-changing job market. These entrepreneurial incubators and related coursework, as well as micro-credentials in the form of certificates, are providing students with more new startup ideas (and mentoring for those ventures) as well as work opportunities. If you wonder if today’s college programs are preparing students for the future of work and business, the answer appears to be a resounding yes.

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NOTE: The new book from NACCE is available on February 28, 2019. *Receive 20% off your preorder by using the code NACCE8 at checkout. Offer expires February 28, 2019.

Smart Manufacturing NSF Funding Demonstrates Collaboration Across College Programs

In late summer 2018, the Motlow State Community College (MSCC) in Tennessee and Mechatronics Professor Khalid Tantawi was awarded a National Science Foundation (NSF) Advanced Technological Education project grant to advance Smart Manufacturing concepts. Joining that $545,000 grant project as a Co-Principal Investigator is Dr. Ismail Fidan, from Tennessee Tech University and a TEAMM Network member.

What is Smart Manufacturing?

In recent years, organizations, such as, The World Economic Forum has been studying the “Fourth Industrial Revolution,” also known as Industry 4.0, or in the USA – “Smart Manufacturing.” It seeks to change how we currently manufacture by employing advanced sensors, computer controls, big data (and the modeling and analysis of it) and other automation technologies to make manufacturing more efficient.

According to a release from MSCC, “The project, titled “Smart Manufacturing for America’s Revolutionizing Technological Transformation” will feature Motlow as a national hub for training Smart Manufacturing for Mechatronics and Advanced Manufacturing educators across the nation.” You can learn more about it here.

Image Courtesy: Motlow State Community College

One of the successful aspects to many National Science Foundation grant projects is that the Advanced Technological Education (ATE) program creates opportunities to collaborate across multiple educational institutions and disciplines as well as between professors at those schools.

The TEAMM Collaboration Network is a terrific example of this cross pollination with its diverse 30-plus network members across 2-year community colleges, 4-year colleges and universities, as well as other education, nonprofit, and corporate entities. The smart manufacturing project with Motlow is clearly an example as are programs like another Dr. Fidan project profile here on AM News: Additive Manufacturing – Workforce Advancement Training Coalition and Hub (AM-WATCH). Or head directly to Dr. Fidan’s profile which lists the many ways that he collaborates with and supports his colleagues at TTU, TEAMM Network Members and other institutions.

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To learn more about the larger ATE program, you can go here. But here is part of the summary of the program from the website:

With an emphasis on two-year Institutions of Higher Education (IHEs), the Advanced Technological Education (ATE) program focuses on the education of technicians for the high-technology fields that drive our nation’s economy. The program involves partnerships between academic institutions (grades 7-12, IHEs) and industry to promote improvement in the education of science and engineering technicians at the undergraduate and secondary institution school levels. The ATE program supports curriculum development; professional development of college faculty and secondary school teachers; career pathways; and other activities. The program invites research proposals that advance the knowledge base related to technician education. It is expected that projects will be faculty driven and that courses and programs credit bearing, although materials developed may also be used for incumbent worker education.

SMARTT or Smart2 project team includes:

  • Khalid Tantawi:  Assistant Professor of Mechatronics in Motlow State Community College, Smyrna, TN
  •  Ismail Fidan: Professor of Manufacturing Engineering at Tennessee Technological University, Cookeville, TN
  • Karen Birch: Professor at Tunxis Community College and director of the NSF ATE funded Regional Center for Next Generation Manufacturing, Connecticut.

The goals of the project will be to:

  • Create educational modules and workforce development tools on Smart Manufacturing
  • Identify the skill sets and needs of Smart Manufacturing professionals
  • Develop a repository that serves as a knowledge base for industry and STEM educators
  • Increase awareness about Smart Manufacturing
  • Develop a knowledge base of best practices for Industrial Assessment Center (IAC) site visits