re:3D had the honor of helping to stress test AMCPR, America Makes’ new exchange for enabling rapid additive manufacturing production responses during times of crisis, like we did at the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
America Makes developed the AMCPR exchange to be a long lasting solution to host design files, review them for safety, and, when needed, distribute them to the US’s additive manufacturing community for production.
Part way through the development process America Makes reached out to members seeking participants to help test the exchange, and re:3D answered the call along with our peers in the 3d printing industry.
We took part in a mock-crisis scenario called Earthquakes Earn Enmity, designed to simulate a response to an earthquake which crippled water delivery systems, otherwise known as pipes!
Ironically just as we were kicking off the mock-crisis, we were faced with a real crisis here in Texas: A hard freeze dropped temperatures to record lows all across the state, and many lost power as the power grids failed to keep up with demand. Pipes burst and created a shortage of plumbing supplies. It illustrated in very real detail how important this AMCPR exchange can be where additive manufacturing can step in during crisis to quickly increase product supplies when traditional manufacturing has to wait to retool their factories.
We met over the course of two month to walk through testing. The first step was to design pipe couplings that could be successfully manufactured with 3D printing. This work was done by a team at the University of Texas at El Paso. The designs were reviewed by America Makes and validated by a separate team at UT El Paso who had not been involved in the original design work. They used the AMCPR exchange to submit and review and finally approve the designs for use on the exchange.
Gigabot 3+ 3D Printing AMCPR Couplings
After the design process, re:3D stepped in as a supplier along with Rapid Application Group, IC3D, Stratasys and Markforged to 3D print the requested couplings. We downloaded the technical data package from the AMCPR exchange, reviewed it with our contract printing team, sliced the included stl files according to their required parameters, and produced three example couplings on Gigabot 3+ XLT out of ABS filament. The three couplings measured 2”, 4” and 8” in diameter. To complete the scenario we each mailed the printed couplings to ASTM International, who was acting as the requestor in our case.
Throughout the process, we advised America Makes on clarifications and revisions the AMCPR exchange needed to improve the usability and accessibility of the system. Things like the variables that different industrial FDM 3D printers have as far as materials, size, and slicing, as well as enhancements to communications and troubleshooting.
One of the highlights for us of helping test the system was participating in some final testing walkthroughs with our customer and fellow America Makes member Pampton 3D. We got to observe how the improvements that had been made in only a few short months eased Pam’s experience first using the AMCPR exchange.
Now that this testing is done and the AMCPR exchange is live, We invite you to join us on the exchange by creating an account to be a designer, supplier or a requestor, so that together with your skills and ingenuity, when we face our next crisis, we’ll all be ready.