Student Team Wins 3D-Printed Full Size Excavator Cab Contest

Achievement date: 

A student engineering team at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) submitted the winning design for an aesthetic and functional excavator cab that will be 3-D printed and on display at Conexpo 2017 at the Tech Experience.


“Additive manufacturing will revolutionize the way things are designed and produced in the not-so-distant future,” said Mike Gust, Industrial Liaison Officer at the Center for Compact and Efficient Fluid Power (CCEFP), an NSF-sponsored Engineering Research Center (ERC) headquartered at the University of Minnesota, in which the UIUC is a partner. “This contest helped to raise awareness of advancements in technology to the next generation of engineers and we’re excited that future engineers are bringing this newly designed machine to life.”

Naomi Audet, Lucas Meyer, Sharon Tsubaki-Liu, Kevin Kim, and Andrew Peterman teamed up to design and submit their 3D-printed futuristic excavator cab and human machine interface. A panel of industry experts judged the competition and members of the UIUC team will receive a $2,000 cash prize, donated by the National Fluid Power Association (NFPA), and will have the opportunity to travel to Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) in Tennessee to observe the printing of their design.

“This project was one of the very top efforts in an extremely competitive field of 28 senior design capstone projects within the MechSE Department at UIUC in the Spring 2016 semester,” said Professor Elizabeth Hsiao-Wecksler, the Department’s Associate Head for Undergraduate Programs. “It had the ideal combination of a challenging project with outstanding ingenuity and hard work by the student team. We think it was a perfect example of what’s being accomplished within our senior design capstone program’s innovative atmosphere.”

CCEFP was awarded a grant from NSF to 3D-print a full-scale operational excavator, to be on display at Conexpo. ORNL’s Manufacturing Demonstration Facility will lead the printing of the machine.

CCEFP is working with research teams from Georgia Tech (another CCEFP partner institution) and The University of Minnesota to convert the current excavator design to one that is conducive to and takes full advantage of 3D manufacturing. Graduate engineering students at Georgia Tech will create a boom and bucket featuring integrated hydraulics with the goal of decreasing the weight, materials cost and maintenance, while students at the University of Minnesota are designing a hydraulic oil heat exchanger and cooling system that reduces the size and weight and increase the efficiency of the machine.