New Orleans, Louisiana
June 26, 2016
June 26, 2016
August 28, 2016
This paper demonstrates the efficacy of 3D printing and laser cutting for the customization of components in an autonomous robotic design project for first-year undergraduate engineering students. Interdisciplinary four-person student teams are challenged to design, build, and program a completely autonomous robot capable of performing a series of tasks which may include pushing buttons, flipping switches, distinguishing colored LED lights, and lifting, transporting and depositing objects. Additionally, robots must fit within a 9x9 inch footprint and be no more than 12 inches tall.
The use of 3D printing and laser cutting technology is provided to students to create custom chassis and unique mechanisms in order to build a robot fully capable of performing the given set of tasks. Students are concurrently taught the fundamentals of Computer Aided Drawing to aid in the design of the robot and of each individual component.
In this project, laser cutting is generally used as a means of creating a custom chassis. Only two materials, acrylic and laminated wood, are recommended to students for laser cutting. Students must provide a 2D vector graphic file of the desired part to the laser cutting technician in order for the piece to be completed. By utilizing the accuracy of the laser, chassis can be specifically designed based on the choices of drive train, motors, and other sensors and mechanisms.
3D printing is utilized to create mechanisms and other custom parts tailored for the specific set of tasks given for the project. Students are limited to using 100 grams of PLA filament for printing. The use of 3D printing has been evidently useful to students with ideas for unique, and frequently multipurpose, mechanisms. The ability to quickly create complex shapes that would otherwise be difficult to fabricate has increased the level of complexity and efficiency in students’ designs.
Each team is given an in-house prefabricated microcontroller to power and control the robot. The controller includes an array of DC motor, servo motor, and digital and analog I/O ports, which may be used to control the drivetrain and all sensors and mechanisms on the robot. Software to control the microcontroller is written in C++ using prewritten libraries specific to each port and its possible functions.
The project teaches the user mechanical design, electronic design, programming, CAD, preparation of a working drawing set, documentation, and teamwork. It helps the user to recognize the importance of a multidisciplinary team approach to product design.
This paper will provide the details for several prototype robots developed by student teams in a ten-week design build challenge. The goal of this paper is to present sufficient detail about the design build project to allow others to successfully develop a similar project.
Cohen, W. F., & Enders, J. J., & Kolotka, K. L., & Freuler, R. J., & Grzybowski, D. M. (2016, June), MAKER: Applications of 3-D Printing and Laser Cutting in the Development of Autonomous Robotics Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.25605
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