3D printing or additive manufacturing is the construction of a three-dimensional object from a Computer Aided Design (CAD) model or a digital 3D model.
|Education||Allows students to create prototypes and is a particularly useful tool for students of STEM.|
|Medicine||Allows for the printing of customized prosthetics at lower costs. 3D printing can also print metal orthopedic implants due to its capabilities for creating porous surfaces which allows the implants to integrate more easily with the patient’s own natural bones.|
|Construction||Fabrication of building or construction components|
|Prototyping & Manufacturing||Significantly reduces the lead times required in traditional manufacturing, allowing a prototype to be fabricated in hours instead of weeks and at a fraction of the cost.|
The upcoming Super Fab Lab at TechPark, Thimphu, is exploring building its own 3D printer. The design of the 3D printer consists of three main components:
The printer structure design is likely to be based on the mini-Prusa 3D printer using RepRap Arduino Mega Polulu Shield, or RAMPS (a board that serves as the interface between the Arduino Mega-the controller computer and the electronic devices on a 3D printer). The design will be dependent on portability, durability, and ease of use.
Currently, Fusion 360 is being analyzed for designing the printer structure, and Eagle for designing the PCB for the controllers. There will be two hardware controllers used for the project, one is RAMPS which will be purchased and the other one will be designed and Fabricated in the Super Fab Lab with some modifications. Both will be using Arduino Mega as the computer controller for the printer. RAMPS organizes and amplifies the information coming from the Arduino so that they are properly directed down the correct channels. For the software, SFL has been exploring several firmware that are available which can be modified according to the design of the 3D printer.
The in-built 3D printer is likely to be cheaper than the commercial printer. In the long run, the lab will aim to supply these printers to schools within the country to accelerate STEM. At present, 3D printing is used to print protective casing for sensors of the Water Management Project at the Innotech-DRIVE center.