Apr. 15, 2016 | By Kira

With his versatile 3D printed quadcopter drone add-on, Casey Rogers, UC Berkeley graduate and co-president of the Berkeley 3D Modeling Club, has been named Grand Prize Champion of FATHOM and GrabCAD’s Make the Unmakeable 3D printing challenge.

Showing a true commitment to the 3D printing community and collaborative maker spirit, Rogers has decided to donate his grand prize—a Stratasys uPrint SE professional-grade FDM 3D printer—to the student-run 3D Modeling Club so that fellow members can come together to bring their 3D printed creations to life.

Last year, advanced manufacturing expert FATHOM teamed up with GrabCAD to launch the 2015 Make the Unmakeable 3D printing challenge, inviting makers from around the world to submit inventive designs that leverage the unique capabilities of 3D printing in ways traditional manufacturing methods cannot.

FATHOM and GrabCAD launched three rounds of the challenge, each relating to a specific theme, and received hundreds of submissions from 19 countries around the world. At the end of the year, the three finalists, Devin Sidell, Winston Jennings, and Casey Rogers, went head to head, with Rogers’ highly functional, multi material 3D printed drone accessory coming out on top.

Designed as an add-on for the Horus Kestrel 3D printable drone, Rogers’ Quadcopter Universal Gripper Accessory features an incredibly versatile landing gear system with retracting legs and a powerful, balloon-shaped gripper, inspired by Cornell and the University of Chicago. The gripper allows the drone to pick up an unlimited variety of objects, making it ideal for improving safety and productivity on construction sites and in remote or dangerous areas.

Yet what makes Rogers’ universal gripper most noteworthy is how its design leverages the strengths of 3D printing in each of its components, resulting in a device that would be impossible to manufacture using other technologies.

“The power of 3D Printing is not achieving printability, but surpassing printability and creating a design that truly benefits from the strengths of additive manufacturing,” explained Rogers. “With the universal gripper I have created a design that is practical and impactful while truly benefiting from 3D Printing.”

Rogers began by designing the device in Autodesk Fusion 360, with imported geometry from Autodesk Project Dreamcatcher. He also designed it specifically for an Objet Connex multi material 3D printer.

To demonstrate how 3D printing alone could bring this device to life, Rogers pointed out the organic branching structure and complex geometry of the gripper arm, which reduces weight while maintaining strength. For the landing gear, Objet Connex soft tango and hard vero materials were leveraged to create a multi material 3D print with a living hinge. “In each component of the design there is one or more ways 3D printing was used to improve the component over a comparable traditionally manufacturable part,” he said.

When he initially won round three of the 3D printing challenge, Rogers said that, should he win the Grand Prize, he would donate it to the 3DMC makerspace at UC Berkeley’s Bechtel Engineering Center. He has now made that promise a reality.

"Our maker space is an interesting and unique group. We're about half computer science majors, half miscellaneous humanities majors," he said. "The space has given a lot of people, including myself, a glimpse into this really exciting new technology that our curriculum otherwise wouldn't have provided."

Currently, the space has ten consumer-grade FDM 3D printers and one DLP 3D printer, but nothing nearly as advanced as the Stratasys uPrint SE, which retails for more than $15,000. “I'm excited to see what kind of cool stuff my fellow club members can come up with," Rogers added. "The uPrint SE will be our most advanced piece of equipment yet!"

The Stratasys uPrint SE professional-grade 3D printer 

In addition to leading the Berkeley 3D Modeling Club, Rogers has also interned at a direct metal 3D printing company, as well as at Autodesk as a Fusion 360 advocate. He currently has plans to pursue work in software engineering while developing his own Fusion 360 add-on called Meshmaker.

"With so many 3D printing professionals submitting designs to the contest, it's really exciting to see submissions like Casey's coming from college campuses," said Rich Stump, Principal and Co-Founder of FATHOM." His design really embodied what the challenge was all about."

There is nothing more humbling than a Grand Prize Champion giving his winnings right back to the community, and that is exactly what Rogers has done. "We are so proud that Casey is donating his prize to spur other young innovators like himself," said Michelle Mihevc, FATHOM Principal and Co-Founder," His generosity will give other students opportunities to explore careers in STEM—how great is that!"

 

 

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