Every year, the Extreme Redesign Challenge calls upon tomorrow’s engineers, artists and entrepreneurs to design a better future. It is a test to see who can come up with the most creative, mechanically sound, and realistically achievable design using 3D printing. Seven winners were selected and received scholarships for their efforts as well as features on our website and blog.
To those around him, Thomas Salverson may seem ambitious, after all, he could technically be referred to as a college junior after finishing his fourth semester at The University of Alabama in Huntsville. He’s also been a finalist in the GrabCAD Extreme Redesign Challenge before. This year, Thomas was an entrant in the Engineering: Post-Secondary Education category, and is a finalist with his adjustable ratchet wrench design. Thomas hopes to take his ambitions and education in additive manufacturing into a career in the aerospace industry, his true passion, and he said he’s particularly interested in what’s currently happening with 3D printed metals and propulsion components of rockets.
This same interest in aerospace also was the seed of inspiration for Thomas’s ratchet wrench, the idea for which came to him many years ago after learning about another contest that centered around CAD design challenge for a space tool. He wanted to create a resizing ratchet, but quickly learned his CAD skills weren’t quite at the level they needed to be to enter that particular contest. After the original idea fell to the wayside, Thomas was talking with his younger brother over his winter break this past year, and his brother reminded him of the idea of an adjusting ratchet. This conversation re-engaged Thomas, and with his current skill set in CAD design, he moved forward with confidence.
When Thomas returned to school from his holiday, he met up with the machinist who runs the manufacturing center at the University to get his insights on printing his ratchet design. “He told me what dimensional tolerances I would need after looking at my first design.” After discovering a measurement disconnect in his original design, Thomas was able to iterate and adjust based on the printing specifications of the Fortus 900 that was in the lab, creating a working ratchet that would be useful in many applications, from automotive and aviation use, to standard home repair, Thomas exclaimed, "I could see it being used for just about anything!"