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Project - 3D printed mechanisms


Additive manufacturing - 3D printing - is a topic of rapidly growing interest in industry and research. In contrast to traditional manufacturing techniques for shaping materials, such as casting and machining, additive manufacturing builds up the structure cumulatively, layer by layer, allowing unprecedented flexibility in terms of geometric complexity and material choices. A wide range of 3D printing techniques have recently become available, suited to different applications and materials.


In this project, we will explore the use of 3D printing technologies for the design of low cost mechanisms. A key challenge is to rationalise the design of printed flexible hinges that enable multiple axes of translation or rotation. The student will create the mechanisms and build numerical models to optimize the device geometry. The stiffness and precision of simple classes of mechanisms will be in particular characterised. A possible application will be to improve the design of a fully 3D printed stand for a low cost microscopy tool.

During this project the student will:

- learn about 3D printing technologies and mechanical modelling,

- learn about sensing technologies and mechanical measurements,

- develop her/his team working skills,

- improve her/his communication skills by presenting results and generating public domain documentation.

Funding may be available as a UROP for the summer for the project.


Skills in programming are welcome.

A particular important output will be the documentation throughout the project, including software sharing on github or other open repositories.

Resources available

The student will be allocated a consumables budget of up to £500.

Project students will be required to spend an extra week after the end of their project integrating their work into the OpenLabTools web resource. Students will receive a £250 grant for that purpose. This contribution will not be assessed as part of the MEng project.

Project supervisor

Alexandre Kabla