P19462: Solar Powered 3D Printer

Systems Design

Table of Contents

Team Vision for System-Level Design Phase

The goal of the team by the end of the Systems Design phase was to select a final concept for the solar powered 3D-printer. The tasks we planned to complete in order to reach our goal were:

At the end of the systems design phase, we were able to complete the tasks listed above and come up with a single concept design backed by methodical analysis and comparison.

Functional Decomposition

Our team defined a total list of functions and subfunctions, based on our Customer and Engineering Requirements, that must be delivered by the final design. This decomposition establishes the specific concepts necessary to deliver the overall objectives of the project, and so is a key part of the system design phase. It took several attempts to reach the final diagram shown below.

Functional Decomposition Diagram (click to enlarge)

Functional Decomposition Diagram (click to enlarge)

Click the link here for the Functional Decomposition document.

Click this link for a photo of the results of an early brainstorming session.


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Benchmarking (click to enlarge)

Benchmarking (click to enlarge)

Click the link here for the Benchmarking document.

Feasibility: Prototyping, Analysis, Simulation

The design components most anticipated to be problematic were the power system and laser and milling integration. In order to assess the viability and preliminary performance capability of these components, feasibility studies were conducted to facilitate data-driven design choices during concept selection.

Feasibility Study for Power Supply

Question: Is it possible to power a 3D-printer with solar energy and batteries long enough to demonstrate the device’s capabilities?

A table was made to compute how long the printer system can stay powered, depending on 3 variables:

  1. System power requirement
  2. Battery Capacity
  3. Power Solar Panels Provide

Click the Battery Chart Explanation to view an example and explanation of the calculations done.

Click here to view the table for calculation the time the system can run.

In conclusion, it is possible to power the device so long as batteries of the appropriate size are chosen and the solar panels produce enough power.

Feasibility Study for Milling Integration

Question: Is it feasible to add milling functionality to a 3D printer?

Calculations were done to find the force that would be put on the gantry from cutting using a milling bit with a small depth pass. An explanation of these calculations can be found here.

In conclusion, it is not feasible to add milling functionality to a 3D printer because the belts that move the print head will not take the load necessary without unacceptable deformation and failure.

Feasibility Study for Laser Integration

Question: Is it feasible to add laser cutting/engraving functionality to a 3D printer?

Research was completed to gathered proof of concept and benchmarking data. Later research was expanded to include laser hazard classifications and safety standards. Click here for the feasibility document.

In conclusion, laser functionality integration is feasible as long as a laser safe enclosure is constructed to reduce radiation exposure that is damaging to the eyes and skin. Many economically viable laser modules exist which are specifically meant for 3D printer modification. However, the materials for the fabrication of a laser safe enclosure may make laser integration cost prohibitive with the constraints of our current budget.

Morphological Chart and Concept Selection

Morphological Chart

Morphological Chart

Click the link here for the Morphological Chart document.

Concept Selection

First Iteration Concept Generation Comparison Diagram

First Iteration Concept Generation Comparison Diagram

Pugh Analysis was done on each of the designs in the Concept Generation tables above. A second iteration was then completed based on the results of the first iteration. The second iteration analysis resulted in a final design concept. Click here to view Pugh Analysis Tables.

Click the links here for the Concept Generation Diagram documents for iterations 1 and 2.

Click the links here for sketches of the design solutions.

Systems Architecture

System Architecture Diagram

System Architecture Diagram

Click the link here for a detailed breakdown of the system architecture.

Test Plan

Test Plan

Test Plan

Click the link here for the Test Plan document.

Risk Assessment

Risk Assessment (click to enlarge)

Risk Assessment (click to enlarge)

Green rows on bottom are new risks that were added during the system design phase that relate to the concept chosen in this phase.

Design Review Materials

Systems Level Design Documents


Plans for next phase

Click the link here for the gantt chart outlining the Preliminary Design Phase schedule.

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