Jason Hewitt and his team (Brian Luc, Darius Shu, Jeffrey Moore, and Guillermo Montiel) stood in the Engineering Meadow of Cal Poly Pomona surrounded by their Advanced Machine Design classmates.
A buzz broke the silence of the pasture as four rotors grabbed at the air and launched a quadcopter from the grass.
Controlled remotely by Hewitt, the aerial vehicle soared away from the group and gained altitude to maximize the bird’s eye view that was being captured by the GoPro camera mounted below the vehicle’s chassis. After a few moments and some maneuvering to appreciate the panorama, the craft descended and returned to its terrestrial origin.
This quad copter was not an off-the-shelf purchase.
The demonstration was the culmination of a 10-week project assigned to small groups of mechanical engineering students at Cal Poly Pomona to complete their Advanced Machine Design class.
The entire machine was engineered, designed, wired, and programmed by the team. Representative of manufacturing realities, the short, 10-week timeframe demands that the students think creatively and use all of the resources at hand in order to complete the project on time. For Hewitt's team this meant the use of a 3D printer to make the rotor strut supports.
A 3D printer can rapidly build nearly any shape or part by depositing layer upon layer of plastic. This flexibility allowed Jason and his team to make design changes on the fly. Even if a part breaks in a crash and must be replaced, it can be 3D printed overnight.
Need to attach your part to something else? No problem. Print threads, add embedded metal parts, or even print the whole part in metal.
Printers turn imagination into reality. So the question is: What reality will you make?