AMSTERDAM April 2016 – Students from an intermediate vocational education school (Nova College) in The Netherlands have designed and created a working robot that successfully opened the trading day on the Amsterdam Stock Exchange by hitting the gong that is used daily for that purpose. The students developed the robot at the 3D Makers Zone, a professional 3D printing excellence center in Haarlem, where companies can rent machine time and expertise to start learning about 3D printing, robotics, Internet of Things and sensor networking.
The aim of the project is to show that even a group of students from an intermediate vocational education school can use 3D printing and robotics to disrupt big, traditional companies. They succeeded in doing so, as before, a major traditional corporation would have had to purchase such a robot for over €100,000 whereas the 3D-printed robot only cost €1,000 in parts and it took the students only two months from first brainstorm to final testing.
3D designing and 3D printing allowed the students to alter the designs and reprint the parts and prototypes very quickly. They held a weekly meeting at the 3D Makers Zone in which progress was discussed, designs were drawn up, programming of the Arduinos was done and calculations were perfected.
The students did not have any budget and were happy that the 3D Makers Zone gave them free access to all its 3D printers and materials as well as provide them with RS Components as a sponsor for the other parts. RS Components is a major player in the technical component market and the company was pleasantly surprised with the opportunity to sponsor this project in kind. They capped the budget for parts on €2,000.
The Nova College students went on a shopping spree in the RS Component webshop. As techies, they felt like children in a candyshop, but they managed to stay well within the boundaries of their budget. After ordering several servo motors, Arduino-chips, cables, batteries, ball bearings, Raspberry-Pies, glue, nails, screws and a keyboard, the total bill finished at €1,000. The 3D Makers Zone provided all of the 3D printing materials and machines. For all the parts, FDM printing proved adequate, so also on the 3D printing part, the team was able to keep costs low.
The end result was a white robot with red logos of the sponsor that was able to perfectly execute the written commands the students entered. Surrounded by smartly dressed stock-traders the students and robot certainly drew the attention. Creating such a sophisticated robot in only two months time (a few days per week) at these low costs, is no small feat. The chairman of the Stock Exchange addressed the students after their successful opening stating that he would be happy to fund their future startups.
Istwan Koning of sponsor RS Components:
“Sponsoring a team of students of the Nova College for that kind of project seemed like a logical step for RS Components. Not only do we sell 3D printers, filaments and 3D software, we also service many technical educational facilities. We foresee a bright future for 3D printing which will result in a drastic change in the economy, not least for listed companies.”
Tim van der Voord of the Nova College
“Research and testing of these kinds of advanced robotics and 3D printing is usually associated with technical universities. But even at the level of intermediate vocational education schools, disruptive technologies are applied without doubt. This generation of students has been raised in a digital world, is not afraid to take risks and innovates at full speed!”
Maarten Verkoren of the 3D Makers Zone:
“In our eyes, it makes perfect sense that students lead the revolution in the new making. As traditional companies find it harder and harder to change their thinking as well as their acting in applying new technologies, students do not have that problem. At the 3D Makers Zone we try and take companies by the hand to guide them in the possibilities and applications of 3D printing, robotics, Internet of Things and other disruptive technologies every day. Students serve as an important added value in this process as they have no drawbacks in thinking in innovation and progress. They love using these kinds of technologies as the solution for problems and that’s why we love working with them in helping our clients. We work for companies in aerospace, infrastructure, construction, medical and other fields that have come to realize they need to accelerate their innovation pace in order to keep up and keep existing. Both defensively and offensively.”