STEM Team Learns Design for Additive Manufacturing

It has been great to have Plural AM as a sponsor for Knights STEM Association (KSA). Tom has been an awesome supporter and our boys got to experience the value of 3D printing parts. In the 2015 season Plural printed propeller guards for our Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) and also provided some tips to the team for strengthening the design they came up with. For rocketry, the team will be creating an egg holder to be 3D printed, and we look forward to working with Plural again.

Redesigning Two Parts into One Component

The Knights STEM Association of Vancouver, Washington had only weeks to design and build their underwater ROV for an upcoming regional MATE competition. Plural is proud to be one of the team’s sponsors.

After providing an initial 3D print of the propeller guard, we were able to participate in a design review. During the meeting, the team determined that two important components of the ROV, the motor mount and propeller guard, were optimal candidates for a redesign using the principles of Design for Additive Manufacturing (DFAM).

The team quickly got to work on the new design and presented us with a new CAD model, combining the motor mount & propeller guard into a single piece. While the initial redesign had a slight hole placement error, they were able to quickly update the model and send us the new version. After a few iterations, we printed the device using ABS, and it fit perfectly.


From initial to completed design

Why is this important?

When you use an additive manufacturing process, you immediately receive greater design freedom and flexibility. In this case, both of those parts would typically have been created separately using conventional design and fabrication. With DFAM, the two became one. In addition, the Knights STEM team was able to look critically at their design, and take a new approach!

Final Results

Not only did the revision simplify the design and reduce part count and weight, it also increased strength and allowed for multiple iterations of the design over a timeframe of a few days, essential to the team meeting their required dates. As for the MATE competition? The team received 2nd place.

Congratulations to the team – we wish you much success in the future!


About the Knights STEM Association

The team has been together for 9 years competing in tabletop robot competitions thru FIRST LEGO League. They placed in the top 1.7% of nearly 500 teams in SW Washington and Oregon in 2015. In addition to the underwater ROV competition, they recently returned from the Team America Rocketry Challenge final in Washington, DC.

Click here to fund the team.

About MATE (Marine Advanced Technology Education) Center

MATEs objective is to provide the marine technical workforce with appropriately educated workers and to use marine technology to create interest in and improve Science Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) education.


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