Problem-Solving with 3D-Printing

Over the past week, we have been working hard to test and finalize the loading procedure for our space box. While trying to load our three Bacteria Introduction Devices (BIDs), we discovered that you can only do so much with two hands... So, we did what engineers do best and took to problem-solving. After trying out various objects (aluminum strips, bottle caps, tape, and countertops) to help us push down our BIDs, we decided to custom-design a part to do the work for us. We used a 3D-printer to print our part, which is a 4x9x1 cm block with 0.5 cm tall dowels that align perfectly to push down our BIDs when we clamp everything together.

Finally having a viable method to assemble our space box, we used starch to test our bacteria loading procedure. Starch has a sticky consistency that's similar to the bacteria, which allowed us to do multiple practice runs without worrying about safety and cleanup. Assembling and loading the box, as well as releasing the "bacteria" from the BIDs, was a huge success! So, our next steps are to streamline this process as much as possible and begin testing our glue and sealants to make sure our box is water-tight.

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The results from our citizen science experiment were accepted for publication! Find our paper describing this effort and its results here: