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Four ocean engineering students from the University of Rhode Island (URI) have used a Form 2 SLA 3D printer to demonstrate the capabilities of 3D printing at sea.
Aboard a research vessel operated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), named the Okeanos Explorer, the team combatted the stormy seas to 3D print housing equipment for tools known as CTD’s (conductivity, temperature, and depth).
Oceanography - Instruments - CTD - Salinity - Water
As oceanography instruments, CTD’s are used to measure the salinity (salt water level) and pressure of seawater.
From left: Grady Bolan, Allison Redington, Associate Professor Stephen Licht, Sean Nagle and Josh Allder standing next to a CTD device on the deck of the Okeanos Explorer. Photo via Josh Allder/URI.
Printing - Rough - Waves
3D printing through rough waves
The URI team recognized additive manufacturing as a solution for the timely replacement of equipment on research ships located in the middle of the ocean. However, the very same tumultuous conditions that damage and break such tools, must be addressed to properly 3D print new instruments.
Engineers - Motion - Data - Okeanos - Explorer
Thus, the engineers examined previous motion data from the Okeanos Explorer and created a motion simulation platform for the Form 2 3D printer to simulate the movement of the ship and gauge how the machine would move onboard.
The Form 2 was also mounted on a stabilization platform, which, according to the URI is commonly used to stabilize IMAX cameras before setting sail from San Juan, Puerto Rico late last year.
Test - Matrix - Printer - Tasks - Properties
“We came up with a test matrix to evaluate how well the printer can perform different tasks [and] that would allow us to quantitatively and qualitatively assess the mechanical properties of the results,” said Josh Allder, an Ocean Engineering student at URI.
The Form 2 3D printer mounted on the stabilization platform. Photo via NOAA.
Sea - Level - Manufacturing
Sea level additive manufacturing
Before departure, the team became familiar with the Form 2 and discovered the internal...
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