The Design and Development of 3D Printable Heat Engines (Abstract)

Engines, which power much of modern society from automobiles to heating systems, are applications of a concept in physics known as heat cycles. Heat cycles are a series of thermodynamic transitions that return a system back to its original state. This concept is taught in almost every introductory physics class, but can be tricky to grasp at first. My research is to design and develop 3D printable versions of two common heat engines. This project is threefold. I will need to research the engines and the physics behind them, so I can better understand how they work and are designed. Then, I will need learn the techniques of 3D printing. 3D printing is tremendously powerful, but it has large weaknesses that I need to design around. For example, it is difficult to print smooth surfaces with a 3D printer. Finally, I must plan and engineer the actual engines, troubleshooting as necessary. The goal of my research is to release the models online so they could be accessed by any student, teacher, or professor, as having a physical model would have a positive impact on teaching and learning.