Monday, March 25, 2013

INDN 252: First 3D Printing Experiments

As I'm slowly developing an idea of what I want to do for this project, it's time to start exploring the possibilities of the 3D printers and the program that we use to facilitate their production.

The program that we use for computer-aided design in this sort of field is Solidworks, which is both fantastic and an abomination. I kid. It's actually pretty fantastic. I kind of had an idea in my head of how I could do a basic knee joint, so I started rolling with that. The basic concept of the joint was a simple angle joint, since I didn't want to over-complicate things and jump right into the deep end.

The most important bit of my motion is the knee cap sliding back and forth over the other two bones, so capturing that was very important. For this model I also want to make sure that there is a restraint on the motion of the knee, just as there is in real life. Moving the bottom half of the knee beyond the knee cap is not possible in, so why should it be possible in my model. I decided the easiest way to allow this model to be assembled would be to split it into 4 pieces and then glue it together.

So I went ahead and printed the object, and then stuck it together. The way I had designed it facilitated relatively fluid movement, as well as actually working. The sliding knee cap worked quite well, but I still need to add the rubber bands to simulate the tendons. The tendons will allow the joint to be constrained, as well as making the knee cap slide in the way that it should.

Next, I'll be looking at how I can connect the tendons, as well as looking for a more advanced design.

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