Way back here, Desktop Engineering announced its Cubicle Design Contest, hoping to lure folks into creating fun designs to turn against their co-workers. The bait used to draw hungry designers out of the woods was a Dell Precision Workstation with professional AMD FirePro graphics. The eventual winner of the contest was Mark Norwood for his water-spraying Sherman tank.
The Dell was a welcome addition to the Norwood household, bringing relief to the aging workstation (circa 2004) computer he used to design the CAD files. In place of 18-36 hour wait time for renderings to complete, the new system was able to produce the files in a little over an hour. Not only does this save him time, it also made the entire process that much faster.
“I had to be careful about how many times I rotated the model, because it could eventually crash,” said Norwood. “And every time I added a detail, I had to save it, which took forever. And anytime I had to rebuild the model, it took quite a while.”
But, as TV game show announcers might say, that’s not all! Not only did Norwood receive a shiny new workstation, Objet stepped up to the plate and turned Norwood’s water-spraying Sherman tank into a functional toy via 3D printing. Objet just shipped the toy to a grateful Norwood.
“It is here! It looks great. Thanks for your help in getting the tank printed,” he said in an email to Senior Editor Kenneth Wong.
It seems to me that contests like this one could very well catch on as 3D printing becomes more accessible. Even if a company doesn’t have access to the sort of professional 3D printers provided by Objet, service bureaus offer reasonable rates for individual prints and there are many low-cost RepRap-inspired 3D printers available.
The chance to see your design come to life could also excite the minds of students. As more schools invest in 3D printers, we might start to see science fair projects on a whole new level beyond cardboard presentations and baking powder volcanoes. In the meantime, watch out for ankle-high Shermans with a seek-and-destroy mission for your socks.
Below you’ll find a short video about introducing students to 3D printing.