Popular Science's Vin Marshall shows off new video: Bracketology
Featured in the January 2012 Issue of Popular Science Magazine
Recently Vin Marshall from PopSci.com converted his old Ford pickup to diesel, and he needed to make a bracket to hold a throttle position sensor in place, which helps to control the new transmission.
Vin would normally just draw this sort of thing on a napkin and work from that drawing or make real cardboard models. But this time he decided to use Geomagic Design 3D CAD software that he picked up during the filming of his new TV show NatGeo’s “How Hard Can It Be”. For this project he used the software to help design the part, then he printed the bracket prototype on a 3D Systems printer and finally fabricated the part on a CNC machine.
Giving the Design some Gas!
Vin modeled the existing parts of the engine that need to be held together by the bracket. In Geomagic Design it is very easy to pick up dimensions from the parts you have already modeled. He then sketched the outline of his bracket, dimensioned the size of the holes for the connecting bolts. Then he converted the sketch into a sheet metal part with a flange for added stability. From here in the program you can take the part, place it back into the assembly to see spacing and alignment, so you can see for yourself that it going to fit perfectly, before you ever make it.
3D Printing the Bracket
The 3D data was saved out of Geomagic Design as a STL file, to be processed into the 3D printer. The 3D Systems BfB 3000 printer (Now succeeded by the CubePro printer) is used here; PLA Plastic is being fed through the motor heads, heated to about 195 degrees and then the design is printed out on an X, Y and Z coordinate system. This whole process took about 3 and a half hours, and can be seen on the video link below.
Make it out of Metal
Finally Vin installed the prototype on his Ford and tested the unit for fit and position. While only intended as a prototype, it worked so well he used the part on the truck for 3 weeks while the machine shop fabricated the real part out of aluminum. The final part was created out of sheetmetal and CNC machining to be affixed into the vehicle.
View Vin Marshall's Video of this process!