3D Printing is Helping People Better Understand Complex Machinery

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It seems these days that almost everybody knows that they need to use 3D printing technology in some way – there is a desire to take advantage of it as the next miraculous technology. However, just because people want to use it doesn’t mean they necessarily understand why or in what circumstances it would be helpful.3532084_orig

Vinnie Savoy, of Relentless Designs, recently had to answer that question for Eaton Oil Tools when they came to him and wanted to know how they could use 3D printing in their business. Savoy could immediately see how he could help them.

“This is a question that I get many times. Many people understanding how 3D Printing works, but dont know how to use it in their everyday. This is where we come in,” Savoy explained. “Eaton Oil Tools makes these huge Oil Field machines. They needed a way to show their customers how the machines work in the field. Instead of showing pictures and drawings, they needed something more tangible. The 3D Printed Replica Oil Field Model is perfect for them.”

Imagine that your company creates a complex piece of machinery that is a necessary component for the production of oil. Now, imagine having to try to sell that complicated equipment to a group of people who don’t necessarily have a complete understanding of exactly what it does. That’s a hard sell, probably involving a significant amount of gesturing and possibly boring the audience to death via PowerPoint so that you find they are purchasing the equipment more as a means of escaping the presentation than anything else.

To anybody who has been paying attention to the development of educational manipulables in STEM education, this is a problem that has an obvious solution. Creating 3D models of the machines gives people a way of examining the pieces in person and greatly increases the chances that they will understand the accompanying explanations.Screen Shot 2015-08-27 at 12.55.38 PM

And the models that Relentless Designs creates aren’t static – they move, light up, rotate, and whatever else needs to be conveyed about the machine in question. The creation of these models could have been done before 3D printing, but it was a complex and time-consuming process. As changes are made to the machinery, new models continually have to be created and with 3D printing, it is as simple as updating the digital file and creating a new one.3189572_orig

Savoy explained, with great and well-deserved pride, the methods he uses to create the mechanical works of art:

“It was designed so that it worked as much as the real machine does in real life. We broke the machine up in parts…in the areas where they are mounted together on the real machine. The way we attach the parts are with Earth Magnets. I made sure the magnets were not visible on the model by welding the magnets completely inside of the parts. Another great add on was the specialized 3D Printed iGus material. It is highly wear restive material that is used on every moving parts. This will ensure long lasting movement.”

The creations are pretty fantastic, I have to say. I think that someone from the movie industry needs to develop an idea for a Lego figure drama that takes place in an oil field. I bet Savoy could make the coolest set ever.

Join the discussion in the 3D Printed Oil Field Models forum thread over at 3DPB.com.

 

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