Redstack Intern Solves Office Coffee Problem with Clever 3D Printing

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Most inventions start out as problems to solve, and 3D printed inventions are no exception. Harrison Gloyne, an intern at technology and services provider Redstack, noticed a problem in the office. Like most offices, there was a great deal of coffee being consumed, in the form of Nespresso pods. There was no organizational system, however, so there were pods all over the place. In addition, Gloyne noticed, there needed to be a way to manage the cost and get all the office coffee drinkers to contribute to funding their habit. Gloyne, a University of Adelaide student, was surrounded by Ultimaker 3D printers at the office, as well as Autodesk software, so he decided to put that technology to work as the Redstack office saw another unique problem solved with 3D technologies.

He came up with an idea for a coffee pod dispenser with a $1 coin slot, like a miniature vending machine. He used Autodesk Inventor to create the 3D model of the dispenser. Even though he had no previous experience using Autodesk Inventor, he found it quick and easy to create a model. There were several challenges, of course. He needed to ensure that the dispenser would only release a coffee pod when a $1 coin was used, and that it would only release one pod at a time. He needed to come up with a quick, easy and secure way to fill the pods, and a way to let people know exactly which type of coffee they were buying. There had to be a secure way to store and extract the money, and Gloyne wanted an aesthetically pleasing design that used minimal material.

Once the model was complete, Gloyne exported it into Fusion 360 so he could run a simulation and make sure that all the moving parts worked properly. He also used Inventor to create a visual presentation.

“While Inventor’s presentation mode allows you to easily create visuals for communicating your designs, I wanted to compare the results with the rendering tools in Fusion 360,” he said. “Fusion 360 offers one of the largest rendering and environment libraries available with a very easy to use interface. This gives you a better idea of what your design will look like once it is created and out in the environment. The rendering of my coffee pod dispenser shows what the final product will look like, down to the last detail, including the placement of the coffee pods.”

Autodesk Cloud was also used to save the CAD files, while an engineering drawing was created in DWG Trueview. The CAD file was then exported to STL and 3D printed on an Ultimaker 3D printer, using Cura. The pieces were then assembled to create an inventive dispenser that lets the user easily choose from several different types of coffee pods, which are dispensed securely as soon as a dollar coin is inserted.

“Our design was made possible using Autodesk products and Ultimaker Printers, and our coffee pod dispenser with coin slot is now a complete and functioning product that dispenses Nespresso pods smoothly and effortlessly,” Gloyne concludes. “Having a messy office kitchen is a thing of the past, with the coffee pod dispenser being the key to keeping loose coffee pods organised and the money in check.”

Gloyne learned a lot from the experience, not only about how to create an inventive solution to a problem but about the 3D printers he used. He used both an Ultimaker 2 Extended and an Ultimaker 3 Extended, and was able to closely compare the performance of the two.

“Having access to print on both the Ultimaker 2 Extended and the Ultimaker 3+ Extended enabled me to explore the possibilities of 3D printing, and also a direct comparison,” he shared with 3DPrint.com. “In direct comparison to each other the Ultimaker 3 Extended came out on top. The following are some key advantages and disadvantages.”

“Dual extrusion enabled prints to be made with PLA and water soluble PVA material. This enables intricate support material to be easily removed and delivered an overall cleaner finish to the final product. Safety of both printers was also great with detection of errors overnight preventing further printing and possible damage to the hardware. However one down fall that lead to inefficiency in printing was the inability to detect if there was sufficient material.”

He noted a few other tips for working with Ultimaker 3D printers. For example, clearances for firm-fitting parts needed to be 0.4 mm, and for for free-moving parts 0.7 to 1.0 mm. He suggests turning off the LED lights to save energy when printing overnight, and investing in a door for the printer to ensure the temperature consistency is maintained for the entire print. Supports are not required when making small items such as threads. He also found that Cura was very intuitive.

You can see how the dispenser operates below and download the file from Thingiverse to create one for your own office:

Discuss this and other 3D printing topics at 3DPrintBoard.com or share your thoughts below. 

[Source/Images: Redstack]

 

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