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  • Adwith Malpe

Learning 3D Modeling and 3D Printing

One of the most interesting lessons I acquired from Capstone is that an engineer's life is always in a constant state of flux where they must always learn how to interact with new software and material to deliver products to a ever developing society. For my Capstone project, I had the additional responsibility to develop a 3D model of a crate that we could attach to the roof of our autonomous vehicle. This crate had to have a number of cells to hold medication and medical supplies. The crate also had to be light enough so that the vehicle can navigate to different rooms without having to use too much battery power due to carrying a heavy payload. In response to this challenge, I took up the initiative to learn how to develop a 3D printed model of a crate made of a plastic material composite. I decided to set plastic as the material composite as it proved to be the most durable and have the greatest tensile strength.

The software I used to help accomplish my goal to create this 3D model was Fusion 360. Fusion 360 is a cloud computing CAD (Computer Aided Design) tool that is used for product development with individuals or teams and merges industrial design, mechanical engineering, and programming all within a single software tool. Learning how to use this CAD tool was actually extremely fun as I got to interact with many different features and tools that would help me design my prototype more efficiently. I also liked the fact that since Fusion 360 is a cloud based CAD tool, it does not take up a majority of the space on your personal computer (only took 11 MB on mine).

When working with this software, I learned quite a bit on how to develop three dimensional object by extruding the thickness of a 2D plane and conjoining the shape to other planes as well. Using the mirror tool proved to be effective during the design process as well as I had the ability to just reciprocate another component I had already made, rather than recreating the same component again. This saved quite a bit of my time, which I invested in learning how to use other features. Establishing parameters for the design proved to be extremely effective as well as it let me control all dimensions of a component with fixed measurements. This enabled me to assign parameters to components that required the same measurements, rather than having to adjust each components size to match that of the others. The final product I created is just the first version of my prototype and will be modified more as I still have to develop a cover with sliding doors and a lock. I also have to adjust the curvature of the base a bit so that it may fit properly on the top of the car and extrude a few holes within the base so that the crate may be connected to the car.

As I became more efficient during the design process by creating many different designs, I decided to record my development process. Here is my video on how I created my 3D modeled crate:

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