SCIENTIST DESIGNS 3D PRINTED INCUBATOR —
Project Pyra Defines the Convergence of 3D Printing and the Internet of Things
The Pyra, an innovative new take on the modern convection oven, challenges designers and engineers to think differently about the way products are designed and manufactured. Built entirely out of 3D printed engineering-grade plastics (except for the electronic components) the Pyra combines the versatility of fused deposition modeling (FDM) with advanced cloud-based intelligence, defining the convergence of direct digital manufacturing and the Internet of Things.
The name of the device refers to both the pyramid shape and the Greek word “pyro,” meaning “fire.” The Pyra, albeit flameless, utilizes forced air convection to evenly heat the cooking enclosure. Nearly all ovens use conductive metal plates for warmth, but with an intricate system of air ducts circulating hot air, this model is able to achieve uniform temperatures up to 375 degrees Fahrenheit in an entirely plastic chamber.
To demonstrate the significance and effectiveness of this additively manufactured thermal chamber that could not be built using traditional methods, the FATHOM team 3D printed a version in Stratasys’ new material with an NSF 51 food-contact certification and successfully slow cooked a dry-rubbed cut of beef—this delicious experiment makes Pyra the world’s first 3D printed smart oven.
MORE THAN JUST A GRILL
From cell incubation to roasting meat and everything in between, the need to heat objects exists across all industries, making the Pyra a transformative device that can serve as anything from a tool in a science laboratory to a grill at your next barbecue. Using professional-grade 3D printers like the FDM-based additive manufacturing system by Stratasys at FATHOM used in Project Pyra, this innovative thermal chamber gives a glimpse into the future of how products will look and function.
Using the Pyra for cooking is only intended as good fun on the part of FATHOM—that is not the primary use for the thermal chamber as it was originally designed for cell culture incubation and other more serious applications. For information on the NFS 51 Certification obtained by Stratasys (Food Equipment Materials): info.nsf.org/Certified/Food/Listings
HOW THE PYRA WORKS
A 3D printed fan in the base circulates air over heating elements and throughout specialized convective heating systems. The design eschews all the conventional wisdom of traditional manufacturing and embraces the capabilities of 3D printing. This is evident through the design, from the profile of the complex heating channels to the shape of the smallest part in the heat exchangers 3D printed into the chamber walls. Even the overall shape of the Pyra was dictated by the constraints of FDM—sloping sides of 45 degrees are self-supporting and removing support material from the inside of the labyrinthine ductwork of the Pyra’s interior would be impossible.
The Egyptian Hieroglyphic-inspired artwork below tells the story of how the Pyra came to be at FATHOM, beginning at the top left and down.
Ultimately, the Pyra epitomizes FATHOM’s goal of making the unmakeable; this design could not be made a reality without additive manufacturing. The design is the culmination of five years of development by Carlo Quiñonez, FATHOM’s Director of Research.
Fabricated on the Fortus 900mc, the only 3D printing system in the world that supports the food-safe ULTEM 1010 material, the Pyra capitalizes on cutting-edge technologies, creative engineering, and defiance of conventional manufacturing methods to produce a truly advanced tool and demonstrate the vast potential of direct digital manufacturing.
|The Hardware||Internet of Things Integration||Design Highlights|
|Built on Fortus 900MC 3D Printer
Printed in ULTEM 1010
FDA-Approved up to 375˚ F
Raspberry Pi + Arduino
12-Bit Digital Temperature Sensor
|Thermal Chamber Software
HTML5 Web App
Built on Meteor
(Framework for Real-Time)
|Designed for Additive
(No Support Material)
80-hour Build Time
3D Printed Heat Exchangers
STORY BEHIND PROJECT PYRA
An earlier version of this concept, the Aquino Thermal Chamber, was actually intended for use as a thermal chamber to incubate cell cultures for observation in laboratory environments. The project began in 2009 and was fully realized at FATHOM’s Oakland-based production center this year. In May of 2015, the digital design was chosen as Design Differently’s Model of the Month. The excitement continues to build.
“My big vision with this project is to enable community-driven development of the tools scientists use in the lab,” said Quiñonez in an interview on the Design Differently Blog by the Fusion 360 team. “The plan is to make the thermal chamber designs open-source so anyone can download, customize, and 3D print their own versions.”
The open source design allows users to adjust the scale, change the platform texture to make grill marks or hold cupcakes, or revise the design for purposes outside of cooking and baking. The application possibilities for serious, ground-breaking work is only limited by the imagination.
“I hope this design inspires designers and engineers to challenge the way they think about product design and manufacturing,” said Quiñonez. “Every day, the FATHOM team is pushing the boundaries of what is possible for industry-leading companies across the country. Professionals needs to rethink their approach because remarkable efficiencies can be achieved like never before.”
To learn more about Project Pyra, read FATHOM’s interview with the creator as he elaborates on the innovative functionality and inspiration behind this model, 3D printing complex geometries, designing for additive manufacturing, and open-source ideals [ READ INTERVIEW ]
The applications for the design are far-reaching and span all industries—from lab experiments to thermoforming packages to baking pizza, nearly every industry requires heating in some sort of thermal chamber.
The physical design isn’t the only customizable element in the Pyra. The IoT appliance is actually button-less; since it is connected to the cloud and controlled via webapp, there is no need for external buttons. Beyond controlling temperature, heating time, and other factors, the app itself is customizable. There are essentially no limitations to how people can use and control the Pyra.
The Pyra is just one item that benefits from extensive physical and digital customization. In a larger sense, the device serves as a glimpse into the future of how products will be designed, manufactured, and used on both consumer and commercial levels. FATHOM is elated to be a part of this future by making the unmakeable and sharing innovative applications at the forefront of the manufacturing industry.
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