University of Twente Student Theses


Design, fabrication and testing of 3D-printed spheres for macro self-assembly experiments

Dijkshoorn, A.P. (2016) Design, fabrication and testing of 3D-printed spheres for macro self-assembly experiments.

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Abstract:This report presents the design, fabrication and testing of spheres with integrated functionality for self-assembly experiments. At the Korean Institute for Science and Technology (KIST) currently experiments are done on self-assembly by means of a macroscopic reactor with magnetic spheres in a turbulent flow. The current set-up does measurements by means of video analysis; however this method poses problems for more than two spheres. The goal of this work is to design, manufacture and test magnetic spheres that can sense connections with other spheres and provide data on connections for use in the self-assembly experiments. From literature similar research has been studied for useful information. Next a design has been made by applying a systems engineering methodology: the requirements and needed functionality of the system were used to define subsystems. Scenarios for the total system were designed from proposed subsystem options and a best fitting scenario was chosen, including reed switches for sensing and separated magnets as interaction source. The size and position of the magnets were based on the flow forces in the reactor. It was shown that two smaller separated magnets can be used for the experiments instead of a single large magnet, without affecting the interaction of the spheres. Reed switches were studied as sensing mechanism. There was looked into the magnetic fields inside the spheres and the operation of the switches. This resulted in positioning the reed switches next to the magnets, perpendicular to the magnetic field. A PCB containing a micro-controller and flash memory has been designed and manufactured for providing the needed functionality of the spheres. A micro-controller code based on the needed operations has been written for use in the experiments. The full system has been manufactured and changes have been made for the optimal performance. With experiments it could be shown that the system works in a controlled, dry environment. The tests in the self-assembly reactor did not yield the desired results due to flaws in the electronics and the sealing of the sphere. With improvements of the sensing subsystem, the batteries and the water tight sealing it is expected to meet all requirements. The combination of all outcomes shows the viability of the system, however extra testing should be done and improvements should be made before the system can be used for the macro self-assembly experiments.
Item Type:Essay (Bachelor)
Faculty:EEMCS: Electrical Engineering, Mathematics and Computer Science
Programme:Electrical Engineering BSc (56953)
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