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Vanguard 3D

Portable Additive Manufacture

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  • Research & Overview

  • Design Brief & Criteria

  • Concept Generation

  • Development

What it does

Portable Additive Manufacture

Your inspiration

This project was undertaken for my Honours year at Massey University to complete a Bachelor of Industrial Design. Research question: How can 3D printing technology be utilized in a new approach to produce more permanent and adaptable end user products, with a focus on printable materials that can be applied to a broad spectrum of large scale design applications? Context: This project explored many aspects of the 3D printing world. These included the current and emerging technology of 3D printing and identified trends in the relating fields; existing products that utilize 3D printing in the design and manufacture process, and what effects rapidly evolving technologies can have on the social and cultural surroundings. 3D printing is currently and will continue to influence the way we interact, design and create products. With the aid of rapidly developing computer software the scope of potential in the way we create products and interact with them is increasing exponentially. Design Opportunity: The main discovery through this research project was the key advantages of 3D printing technology over traditional manufacture. These include the concept of ‘complexity for free’ and a new ability to mass customize, bulk manufactured products. However I discovered that despite this technology that is capable of manufacturing far more complex objects, at little to no extra cost and the ability of mass customization, we are still designing for traditional manufacture methods. 3D printing is starting to change not only the way we manufacture but also the way we design. Here the basis of my project was formed. The design criteria was as follows: -Adaptable to a broad range of environments, applications and products. -Portable. -Appropriate for its purpose, environment, and user. The objective for this project was to envisage how 3D printing technology could be used in a new approach that could benefit design and broaden the scope of innovation in both design and manufacture.

How it works

This project was founded on utilizing complex 3D printing technology for a broad range of adaptable design applications. The solution employs a cement and expanding foam matrix to print three dimensional structures, enabling limitless design and manufacture. Vanguard 3D facilitates remote access and the capability of adapting to challenging environments. Layer by layer forms are fabricated with the precision and efficiency of 3D printing technology. Aided by computer controlled design, redefining the process structures can be designed, tested and constructed. How the system works: Vanguard 3D features two units. A print unit which controls the extrusion of print material and a pump unit which houses the power source and material supply. At the core of the print unit is a cement reservoir which precisely controls the extrusion of cement to the extrusion head. An internal mixing auger prevents early curing of the cement. The extrusion head consists of three nozzles, two foam and one cement nozzle. Foam is extruded from the two outer nozzles and the distance between these can be adjusted to modify the print width. Cement is extruded from the center nozzle which is delayed by one layer to allow the expanding foam to cure sufficiently. The mobility system of the print unit facilitates limitless movement and adjustment allowing Vanguard 3D to adapt to both terrain and print structure. The pump unit houses an electric generator, computing system, storage for spare expanding foam tanks and the cement pump system. Cement is contained in the pump unit to reduce weight for the print unit. This allows greater accuracy and efficiency of the printed structure. The expanding foam however is stored in a two separate tanks - Part A & Part B. These are mixed at the extrusion head to prevent curing in the supply lines. Skid steer rubber tracks allow the pump unit to closely follow the print unit.

Design process

Many design techniques were used in this design project. These include ; early scale mock-ups, full scale tape renders (testing dimensions, ergonomics and form), print material testing, concrete testing, sketching, CAD visualizations, and 1:1 scale ergonomic testing of the components that will have human interaction. These helped further refine and inform my design process.

How it is different

Future plans


Entered into Best Design Awards and Red Dot Design Awards.

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