The top 10 designs of the Metal X Challenge

Together with Markforged, a leading producer of industrial 3D printers and software, we at 3DVerkstan hosted a technical design competition aimed at Swedish university students. The challenge was to create a functional and innovative 3D-designed model suitable for metal 3D-printing with Markforgeds ADAM-technology.

It has been a pleasure to see all the amazing designs sent in to us during the competition. After considering the capabilities of the designs, as well as the limitations of the Metal X-system, we have chosen our top 10 designs and collected them on the page.

Homopolar generator disc

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"My Metal X Design entry would, if printed, provide me with the essential part to construct a homopolar generator, also known as a Faraday generator. The device would be mounted in a gearbox on a bike to power battery charging with relatively high current while riding the bike. The part needs to be made out of copper in order to conduct current as the disc rotates in a static magnetic field. The special possibilities for intricate geometries that are available for 3D-printed metal parts will allow for greater air flow at the surface of the copper, which will increase the cooling of the metal, which normally can become quite hot due to eddy-currents.

The biggest challenge when designing this part was finding the "sweet spot" between the limitations of the printer and the desired form. I believe that I found a design that both meets my needs for the part but also shows the great possibilities of the printer. "

Mattias Dünkelberg Valenca, Kungliga Tekniska Högskolan

Miniature Hybrid rocket

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"Hybrid rockets are difficult to test and optimize. Testing is essential to make a good hybrid rocket. Students studying rocketry can learn a tremendous amount if they are able to use metal 3D-printers to rapidly prototype rocket engines. Using the Markforged Metal X alongside this rocket design will enable students to test different engine configurations and propellant mixtures.

Part consolidation of the fins, nozzle, combustion chamber, body tube, piercer results in a cheaper solution compared to making those parts individually. With the piercer inside the body tube, the part is not manufacturable via traditional measures. Using Inconel 625, the 3D printed structure will be strong enough to resist the combustion of nitrous oxide and paraffin wax "

Alain Williamson, Luleå Tekniska Universitet

Cooling Head

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"This is a cooling head for the Raspberry Pi 3.  A common problem with the raspberry is that it overheats quickly and throttle down processor performance even with heatsinks attached. This cooling head with fan mounting should provide good heat dissipation even on low fan rpm, it mounts to the two processors with heat conductive tape. 

This part have to be made out of copper to transfer heat and printing it is almost the only possible way of producing it because of the internal air channel."

Johan Peteri, Umeå Universitet

Alcohol burner nozzle

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"I have created an add-on for an alcohol burner of the type used in Trangia's camping stoves. The design is created with tubes that are meant to contain the wick, which gets heated by the flames. As a result, the evaporation of the alcohol is increased, as well as the efficiency and heat output of the burner. The process started with brainstorming and sketches, followed by intensive 3D-modeling to find the final shape. 

The main issue has always been optimizing the design so that minimal support is needed. Also, securing the holes in such a way that they will print properly. I solved this by deciding that no angles could be lower than 45 degrees. This part should be printed in metal because previous attempts at this type of construction have failed when it comes to production costs due to a big need for human workforce for final assembly. Therefore, there aren't any current products on the market like this due to the high production cost. All of that is solved by getting a ready made product that is ready to ship."

Daniel Forsberg, Mittuniversitetet

Heat exchanger

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"This concept was inspired by high-end heat exchangers produced with LB-PBF/EBM for aerospace. By using the same principles in low-end consumer products, water heaters across the globe could be made more sustainable. This part is the first step into utilizing metal additive manufacturing at mass-scale to create water heaters that are more energy-efficient than existing products and has a smaller footprint in production.

The model was developed to maximize the potential of the Markforged Metal X and copper material to produce an energy-efficient water heater that is easier, safer and cheaper to produce than with additive manufacturing competitors. The model has been designed with wavy internal fins to ensure Metal X printability while still pushing the limits with its thin walls and intricate details. "

Simon Dybeck, Chalmers Tekniska Universitet

Compact cylinder

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"Compact main cylinder of a rotary compressor, with special feature like internal cut out for weight reduction and air channels for cooling. Also includes gear features for gear drive 1 stage compressor fan. The light weight design and compact part adds up to an efficient small compressor. Additive manufacturing with the Metal X makes it extremely light and easy to manufacture."

Erik Fureby, Polhemsgymnasiet

Impeller housing

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"Reengineered replacement impeller housing for an old pump. The old housing seemed to be injection moulded plastic, so I had to make a few changes to fit this style of manufacturing instead. I started out with a design that was quite similar to the old one. However, that design required a lot of support material and would be quite expensive to 3D-print, $77 according to Eiger. My focus for this design has been to minimize support, minimize material and to minimize cost. In order to minimize support, the outlet is turned 90 degrees and is now pointing upwards instead of horizontally. This also allows for the horizontal channel to be printed in a teardrop shape instead of a circular one, further reducing the amount of support needed.

The final design is about $22 cheaper than the initial design and print time and material is reduced significantly. Much cheaper than buying a completely new pump which can be up to $500. "

Erik Ljungberg, Kungliga Tekniska Högskolan

Turbine rotor

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"I have made a Turgo turbine with an integrated generator where the spool holders will be built in the lower turbine and holes for the magnets are made on the upper turbine. The rotor and stator will therefore be built inside the turbine. Rotating in two opposing directions. Taking advantage of the energy that isn’t used by the first turbine and making the lower one rotate in the other direction.

This can, if developed further, make turbines cheaper as you don’t have to build both a generator and a turbine. The lower turbine would need a slip ring to transfer the electricity out of it. If this turbine is positioned under water more work would have to be done making sure it is waterproof. Which could be done. With slower currents it might be possible to reach 50 hertz without having to use massive gearboxes. I think that this is a creative piece of technology that combines the generator with the turbine."

Stefan Löfdal Grelsson, Uppsala Universitet

Stainless steel knob

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"This stainless steel knob is designed specifically for 3D-printing. It can be printed with zero support materials due to all details are designed with 45 degrees angles or less. The knob is cleverly designed with minimum amount of material usage. I have leveraged the freedom of design in 3D-printing to make a very good looking design which is usually difficult to do with other manufacturing methods. After printing, washing and sintering the knob can be used directly, so there is no need for taping the thread and post processing. This 3D- printed knob will be cheaper than a CNC machined one with about $3. The cost of the knob in Eiger is about $14 in comparison with CNC machined one that costs about $17."

Anas Tabbah, Jönköping Universitet

Garden wind turbine

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"What I am presenting is a model of a garden turbine. The idea started from observing some pinwheels, thinking how nice it would be to use them to produce small amounts of electricity for household purposes. I began to think about how such an object could be made and what shapes it should have. Their shape and color is the result of research done with the aim of getting a shape that can blend in among the flowers and plants, this should be an object that should not be conspicuous. In fact, the shape resembles that of a flower bud ready to reveal its first petals, only in this case the petals, so to speak, serve to capture the energy of the wind. The object should be made of aluminium so that it is neither too heavy to be moved by the wind, nor too light to be easily damaged by the weather. The concept is based on having a series of these prototypes connected together through electrical cables that will all converge in a generic transformer. In this way, the surface of a normal courtyard, or a flat roof could be used to derive/actuate power consumptions from public networks."

Andrea Troilo, Linnéuniversitetet