The Beginning of the End: Prototyping our Final Project Idea

This week, we had to finalize our ideas and work on creating a prototype for our product. Prototypes are really helpful because they can help you envision how your project will look once it is life-like and in 3D form. This week, we created our first prototype, which was a cheap, easy to make model made out of paper. Our prototype models an hydroponic system. In this system, a fish tank serves as the base for containers on top of the tank that grow plants. The water from the tank is pumped up to the top container, where gravity does the rest and the water will run through all of the containers back into the tank through little holes found in each of the containers.. The plants use the fish’s waste found in the water as a source of nutrients, and this in turn filters the water. The result is a self-cleaning ecosystem. Our prototype is shown below.


As you can see, the prototype is very far away from being done, and we still have a lot of work to do. However, there were many positives from creating a simple model just like this one. For instance, we discovered that our spiral staircase idea would not work out well because the containers that the plants would grow in (the small triangles on top of the box), were too high up and would make the system too top-heavy. We now know to design the top differently so the boxes will be lower to the ground.

Learning how to prototype is a valuable skill, especially as a mechanical engineer, because if I am ever creating a product in the future it will take many trials before I finally get exactly what I want. Learning how to prototype quickly and efficiently will enhance the level of product that I produce.

While everyone on our team is going to help equally with physically making the product. I will be working specifically on designing the product on CAD, specifically on Fusion. I have already began drawings with exact specifications on the containers that will hold the plants, and I plan on creating the first version of the CAD model this upcoming week after we create our second prototype.  With any luck, this week we will make a lot of progress and I will be able to share a lot with you guys on my next post!



One thought on “The Beginning of the End: Prototyping our Final Project Idea

  1. Hi John,

    I absolutely love your project idea! I love items which help create nature and outdoor environments in more industrial areas. I have so many plants in my room and I plan to have an indoor herb garden when I graduate, so your idea is absolutely wonderful. I also love that not only is there water at the bottom but a fish tank so that there can be life which in turn can contribute to the life of another organism. I love your design and I am very impressed with how your group built it out of paper! That’s so much effort and concentration to build it so that it doesn’t fall over. Overall I am very impressed with your project idea and I am excited to see how you bring it to life!

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