Prototyping and Fabricating
Throughout the week, I had to make prototypes rapidly; fabricating the items which we will be using during the Wilderness trip to Maine. There was also a crash course on boat model construction. This week was called the “Boot Camp”.
These gave me many opportunities to use general hand tools such as razor blades and hand drills as well as precision fabrication tools such as the laser cutter and metal milling tools. Furthermore, it reinforced my appreciation of the design process as I had to think of the purpose of each design feature and justify it to the instructors. I started with the construction of a portable stove fuelled by alcohol using empty aluminium drink cans, and I chose a simple design with a mini reservoir at the bottom to store liquid alcohol fuel and the top of the stove which included a small vent at the side to increase air flow upwards.
Next, I used Rhinoceros (the modelling software) to sketch a 3D model of a simple boat, before flattening them so that my team can join individual pieces together to form a 3D structure after laser cutting. Subsequently, we were given pieces of plywood to prototype with, which we later cut using the laser cutter and assembled them using cable ties and Epoxy.
My favourite fabrication process was the use of the mill and the lathe when I was making a flashlight for the Wilderness trip. The machines were extremely easy to use and were extremely precise even though we had operated it manually. There were two parts to the flashlight and we made each part individually using the mill and the lathe. The lathe was used to make the handle of the flashlight which contained the battery, while the mill was used to construct the module which housed the bulb.
It was an extremely fun and enriching week and I learnt a lot about the prototyping and fabrication process. I’m looking forward to the Wilderness trip and fabricating my very own electric boat with my team!