Blacksmiths have been beating heated iron into horseshoes and other tools for more than 5,000 years, back to the appropriately titled Iron Age. But a group of students in Ohio are putting a modern twist on the art and taking home some prize money for their efforts.
A team from The Ohio State University claimed the $25,000 top prize in phase one of the Lightweight Technologies for Tomorrow (LIFT) Prize in Robotic Blacksmithing, a challenge designed to encourage teams of college and high school students to innovate in manufacturing technology. The prize in blacksmithing, or metamorphic manufacturing, was created by LIFT and Ohio State’s Center for Design and Manufacturing Excellence. In phase one, teams programmed a machine to shape clay, or plastecine, into two of three shapes – a goblet, a horseshoe, or a bracket.
Ohio State’s Team Honeybadger won by adapting a CNC machine with custom software and a forming end affector to create a horseshoe and a bracket using small, incremental deformation steps. This process can be adapted for local, on-demand metal forming. The second and third place schools were Columbus, Ohio’s Metro High School and the University of Michigan. The teams will receive prizes of $15,000 and $7,500 respectively for their work in the contest.
“It was fun for us to work on a project that may someday fill a niche that nobody thought would exist,” says Brian Thurston, Team Honeybadger member and 4th Year Mechanical Engineering Undergraduate student at The Ohio State University, Class of 2017.
Future phases of the competition will ask students to form shapes out of more challenging metals.
Lightweight Technologies for Tomorrow (LIFT)
The Ohio State University
LIFT Prize in Robotic Blacksmithing
Collet rotary table
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CNC Indexing & Feeding Technologies