Oct. 26, 2012

The UW WOOF (Washington Open Object Fabricators) team has won the 3D4D Challenge 2012 last week at the 3D Printshow in London.

WOOF's project will enable waste plastic to be used as filament for 3D printing machines to create new products. The team, Bethany Weeks, Matthew Rogge and Brandon Bowman, plan to form a company and work with partners in Oaxaca, Mexico, to build machines that can transform waste plastic into composting toilets and pieces for rainwater harvesting systems.

"You can use the soil that comes out of that for gardening - not crops that grow underground generally, but for something like bananas it is very adequate," Matthew Rogge, a post-baccalaureate mechanical engineering student at the University of Washington, told NBC News.

"In Oaxaca, they have to carry these from where they are produced up into the mountains to the communities that are going to use them and the trails are so steep they won't even use pack animals," Rogge said.

The concrete composting latrines are just too heavy for people to carry. The winning project is to use giant 3D printers to create composting latrines that are lightweight and use less energy to manufacture than concrete toilets. The material for printers are waste plastics such as milk jugs and soda bottles.

In addtion, the machine would also make parts for rainwater collection systems that will be more robust than current systems in the developing world where available plumbing parts often cause leaks and frequent failures.

Back in July the team submitted a life-size boat milk jug boat that weighs 40 lbs and is 3D printed using more than 250 crushed melted milk jugs using their custom built Big Red 3D printer. They entered it in a Seattle race and took second place.

"With small-scale printers, the extruders can clog easily," said Brandon Bowman, who also attended the competition. The huge printer that the students built, named "Big Red," can not only create larger objects, but it also allows them to print with materials that are not perfectly clean.

The project was inspired by Matthew Rogge's years spent working in the Peace Corps building water and irrigation systems in Ghana, Panama and Bolivia. He was frustrated by the challenge of making custom parts in low-resource settings.

"I was looking into engineering and I'd read about 3-D printing, and that's when I decided to go back to graduate school," Rogge said.

"I feel lucky to have the chance to start making our ideas into reality," "There is great potential here to improve people's quality of life while taking plastic out of the waste stream." Rogge said in a press release.


Source: University of Washington


Posted in 3D Printers



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