2014-2015 School Year
MTA Students Win Top Honors with 3D Printed Parts
In April, 2014, two teams of students from the TBAISD Career Tech Center’s Manufacturing Technology Academy (MTA) took first place in the Manufacturing Robotic Work Cell and Robot Construction contests at the National Robotics Challenge (NRC) in Marion, Ohio. Two other MTA teams took first and second places in the Rescue Robot contests there, as well. And the MTA Manufacturing Robotic Work Cell team took the competition’s top honor, the Honda Innovation Award, beating out more than 200 other teams (including universities) for creating the most innovative project at the entire competition.
Manufacturing Robotic Work Cell
The Manufacturing Robotic Work Cell team designed and built a work cell that used a pump system, water, stemmed glassware, “thwackers” that were 3D printed, and a robotic arm to play songs by “thwacking” partially-filled glasses, record the songs on a USB drive, and pull the USB drive out of the port and place it in a chute that delivered it to the “customer.” The picture, right, shows the work cell layout. Note the stemmed glassware in the foreground.
The “thwacker”, left, is what strikes the glasses, like the head of a hammer. The orange and dark blue brackets that hold the thwackers, and the actuators that make them move, were designed by MTA students using SolidWorks then 3D printed, and assembled for the competition.
Two MTA teams took the top two awards in the Rescue Robot contest at NRC, and many of their robots’ components were designed on SolidWorks and 3D printed at MTA. Rescue Robot teams were tasked with designing a robot that could fit in a 2-foot cube, navigate an obstacle course with a steep ramp and a cave, and pick up and place 4 pingpong balls at different locations within the course boundaries.
The 6-wheel-drive components that were 3D printed are shown in blue and turquoise. The white tube can be rotated forward to draw in ping-pong balls using rubber bands as conveyors to draw balls into the tube or slowly withdraw them and place them on their destination pedestal.
MTA’s second- place Rescue Robot used treads to move throughout the course and a gripper to pick up and replace the ping pong balls.
The sprockets for the treads, motor brackets, rack-and-pinion gear to extend and retract the gripper, main chassis and the camera mount (on top of the robot) were all designed with SolidWorks and 3D printed for the robot.
Taking first place in the Robot Construction contest was the “Garden Defender,” a pneumatic projectile launcher constructed of PVC pipe and 3D printed parts connected to a vision system. The Garden Defender’s vision system would track a remote-control “rabbit” that was being driven randomly in the 8 foot by 8 foot “garden” of plastic plants. When the vision system confirmed that the target was locked in, the pneumatic gun would fire a burst of 3D-printed balls at the varmint! All green components were designed and 3D printed by the MTA student team.