June 15, 2014
June 15, 2014
June 18, 2014
24.254.1 - 24.254.10
Capstone Project in a Freshman Solid Modeling CourseAbstractThis paper examines the use of rapid prototyping technology to introduce underclass mechanicalengineering students to topics associated with their future studies. The course environment is anintroductory modeling course where students study solid modeling and perform reverseengineering studies on several mechanical systems. The focus of this paper is a capstone projectfor the course where students design and build a blower for the purpose of inflating an airmattress. The project provides students with a tangible introduction to several topics that areimportant for their continuing studies. These topics include developing a better understanding ofthe relationship between computer models and physical models, the effect of manufacturingtolerances on design decisions, and an introduction to concepts in fluid flow.The project takes place during the final 3-4 weeks of the course with students working in teamsof three. Each student in the team designs a separate component for a 3 piece blower. Thecomponents are then prototyped using a fused deposition modeling (FDM) process. Theprototyped parts are assembled with a motor and then tested to examine the performance of themodels. The prototype and testing process provide an early experience in design, manufacturing,and fluid flow topics. From a design aspect, students get the opportunity to hold the models thatwere generated on the computer. This provides students with an initial exposure to how size andgeometry relationships are perceived in a virtual environment compared to their actual physicalsize. A manufacturing aspect is revealed in the process by the need to consider design tolerancesto mate the parts with one another as well as the need to be able to secure an off-the-shelf motorin the assembly. Finally, elementary topics in fluid flow are introduced with the examination ofthe flow rate and maximum pressure capabilities of each blower. The end result of the project isthe ability to provide freshman engineering students with an introduction to several importantmechanical engineering topics in a relatively short time frame.
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