Students create 3D-printed model of James Watt steam engine

3D Printing, News

A team of students have used 3D printing technology to create a model of a steam engine originally designed by James Watt more than 200 years ago.

The JetX student society at the University of Glasgow spent five months putting together their scale model of the Boulton-Watt steam engine.

The metre-long model uses more than 800 parts, including an additional gear to move itself, and took 845 hours of printing.

Watt was working at the university as an instrument-maker in the 18th century when he made improvements to a Newcomen steam engine – with his vision kick-starting the industrial revolution and helping create the modern world.

Chris Triantafyllou, JetX president, led on the design and construction of the model.

He said: “The past five months have been very busy but we’re really pleased with the final model.

“The whole building process utilised a lot of design and prototyping practices we’ve learned throughout the years of developing jet engine models.

“The University of Glasgow is rightly proud of its association with James Watt, and his legacy helps make it an inspiring place to study.

“We’re glad we’ve had the chance to contribute to the University’s 200th anniversary celebrations, and we hope that visitors to the exhibition in the library get as much enjoyment out of it as we do.”

The model will be on display at the University Library from June 6 as part of a public exhibition exploring Watt’s life.

It is just one event in a year-long series to mark the 200th anniversary of his death. The 13th annual Glasgow Science Festival begins on Thursday, and is themed in honour of Watt.

James Watt engine model
Alan Hewett, JetX team advisor; Chris Triantafyllou, JetX student engineering society president; Prof Colin McInnes, James Watt chair; Hamzah Mushtaq, JetX vice-president (University of Glasgow/PA)

Professor Colin McInnes, the university’s James Watt Chair and professor of engineering science, praised the team’s work.

He said: “The JetX team have achieved something remarkable with the construction of this model, which is a fitting tribute to the vision of James Watt in this bicentenary year.

“The engine is stunning, and credit to JetX for their imagination, dedication and diligence, not just in this project but also in their self-directed jet engine designs.

“The School of Engineering is keen to instil in students the importance of creative thinking in engineering, and JetX are a prime example of how creativity can inspire exciting new projects.”

More information on James Watt events can be found on the university’s website.

Chris Price
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