A prototype is a preliminary model of something. Projects that offer physical products need to show backers documentation of a working prototype. This gallery features photos, videos, and other visual documentation that will give backers a sense of what’s been accomplished so far and what’s left to do. Though the development process can vary for each project, these are the stages we typically see:
Proof of Concept
Explorations that test ideas and functionality.
Demonstrates the functionality of the final product, but looks different.
Looks like the final product, but is not functional.
Appearance and function match the final product, but is made with different manufacturing methods.
Appearance, function, and manufacturing methods match the final product.
At Tethon 3D, we are fascinated and excited by 3D Printing, materials development and Space! It's only natural, then, that we would want to produce a limited edition object that combines all of our passions for a Kickstarter Make 100 project.
Fortunately, the materials that comprise Martian soil are also fairly abundant here on Earth. We refer to Mars as the "red planet" because it has a thick layer of oxidized iron dust on the surface.
By processing a mixture of materials that simulate the composition of Mars soil into a very fine powder, we made a material that is compatible with a power/ink jet binder 3D printer.
NASA offers digital models of some popular lunar, Mars, asteroid and space equipment objects. We selected the Gale Crater for our project, as it is the landing site of the Curiosity Rover - that is still up there researching the planet today.
For our project, we will 3D print replicas of the Gale Crater with our simulated Mars soil. These will be mounted in an 8 x 8 inch black framed shadow box, labelled and numbered with a brass plate.
We will make up to 100 of these 3D printed replicas and NEVER fabricate any more at this scale, by this method, with this material. In fact, due to coloration differences in the material, no two replicas will be identical.
Your support of our project will allow us to experiment with this new material in 3D printing, educate others about Mars exploration and bring joy to Mars enthusiasts.
Risks and challenges
The biggest risk to this project is the 3D printer hardware that we will use to print these replicas. We have several old Z Corp powder/binder jet 3D printers that are all quite temperamental. They break down frequently. We are pretty good at troubleshooting printing errors and replacing broken parts, but there are dozens of parts on each machine that could potentially break. Some parts are easy to replace - others are not.
We anticipate that one of our printers will break during the course of printing 100 objects. That's pretty much a given. We will address all hardware issues immediately to find the best and quickest resolution. We also have projected very conservative timelines for reward delivery, thereby giving us a cushion should we experience a delay.