Mars Lander Workshop

On November 5th, we had a Mars Lander developing workshop. Of course, we were not actually going to build a lander, but use the concepts to build something which can be dropped from the 4th floor (5th for the Americans) of a building. With 18 participating kids between the age of 10 and 13, grouped into 6 teams.

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At the end of the workshop, the kids learned about using fundamental concepts of physics and creative thinking to develop a surround structure of  a fragile payload. The payload was a light bulb wrapped inside a plastic covering. Each team had the opportunity to build a prototype which had to use at least two of these concepts:

  1. Create an external casing to protect the payload from impact
  2. Use a material to reduce the drag of the falling object
  3. Build a surface at the point of contact to reduce the impact

Ultimately any combination of these had to be use, with making sure that the total weight of  the prototype including the payload is the least. The kids were given only a selection of prototyping materials: masking tape, ice cream sticks, plastic straws,  balloons, thread, plastic bags, papers, and barbecue skewers.

The great thing is that we had also built a structure. the tetrahedral pyramid using straws and showed the kids when we began testing all the

prototypes. All 6 prototypes were tested, and none of them broke when thrown from the height. Below are the 6 teams with the prototypes, and after that, the testing video.

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Project Spark

In this day and age, even little children cannot escape the harshness of the world forcing them to focus on becoming something. My friend is interested in helping children figure out the kind of career path they want to pursue. This mostly will relate to those interested in fields of STEAM aka., Science Technology Engineering Arts and Mathematics.

Project Spark is an initiative of doing exactly this. It is a series of workshops on STEAM fields, and I help him in designing and facilitating them. The following posts on Project Spark will tell the stories of the outcomes of each workshop.

The Earth, Reversed

So, sometime in the Summer of 2017 in New York, ultimaker did a workshop at the NYU MakerSpace. They showed their new Ultimaker 3 and Ultimaker mini 3D printers.

The Ultimaker 3 is a dual extrusion printer. This means that it has two different nozzles through which model filament can be extruded. Ergo, it can print in more than one colour at the same time. It also means that one of the extruder can print non-toxic support materials such as PolyVinyl Aclcohol (PVA), which can dissolve in water!

I used the Ultimaker 3 to print a model of the Earth found online. The idea was to use blue PLA (PolyLactic Acid) for water and green for the landmass. Things did not turn out the way I wanted…

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Clumsily, I loaded the wrong colour on the wrong extruder. So the land became blue and the water green. It’s a good visualisation of how it would be if the labd and water on the Earth was switched. I had seen graphic images online, and now there is a 3D printed model.

Engraving Aluminum

I wanted to see if it was a good idea to engrave soft metals. Turns out, it’s a great idea. It not only easy, but also incredibly fast.

Even better is creating gcodes. In fusion 360, even though there is an option for engraving, it is not possible to use this with an engraving tool, because engraving is still considered milling by the software.

An easy way to get around that is by using the Trace option. And since I was using a simple sketches, it was extremely convenient to select the tool-paths. It is actually easy to engrave 2D sketches by using the trace option, rather than the engrave option. Engrave option is good only if you need a bit of a depth.

My choice of material was aluminum, and yes, they are dog tags.

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I had to trace twice on the othermill because of the uneven arrangement of the material, yet it still took only about 25 seconds for each trace, i.e. both the sides were engraved in less than 2 minutes!

No, I did not speed up the video.

Tree puns

When I milled the piece of plywood and the sheet of aluminum, it was all to make this. I call it ‘Symmetree’, mostly because I like puns. You can see it etched on both the wood and aluminum. Almost everything in this design has something to do with trees.

The outer edge is a piece of laser cut acrylic in which the design is tightly fit. The reason why it looks glossy is because it has a few coats of polyurethane.

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Aluminum Tree

As shown previously, Aluminum is a relatively soft metal, and it can be milled easily. This time, it is  a 4 in. x 4 in. sheet of aluminum. I simply used a previous dxf file created for milling plywood, and reused the same gcode.

The process took only about 30 minuted to mill, and the output was clean, even though I had used a 1/16 in. ball end mill tool. Had I used a smaller sized tool, it would have been much more precise, but it would have definitely taken hours to finish the job.

Here is the time lapse video of the process. There is a bit of engraving at the end, but it is not very satisfying. I will make another one showcasing the engraving soon.

Circular Milling

Aluminium or Aluminum is a relatively soft metal. It is light, but also durable, making it an excellent material to create useful parts for things used in everyday life. It had been a while since I tried to test different kinds of milling using Autodesk Fusion 360.

Fusion 360 has a really good way to create GCODEs for circular objects. It is similar to contour milling or profiling, but specifically meant to create circular or cylindrical objects with minimal wastage of materials.

I decided to make a couple of aluminum rings. Since a metal was being used to mill another metal, it was very important that the distance between each subsequent each step over was very small. Unfortunately, this meant that the process would create aluminum powder instead of swarf, and I had to be very careful while cleaning the OtherMill once the machining was completed.

Regardless, the finishing was beautiful and it actually did not need any extra polishing.