Update On MakerBotted Fusion Parts: Electron Gun Armature

In support of her new book Before the Lights Go Out, Boing Boing’s Maggie Koerth-Baker hosted a discussion in NYC yesterday with the New America Foundation about the future of energy systems. Will centralized systems prevail, or will individuals and small communities find ways to meet their own energy needs?

Looking forward to some transcripts from this talk, but in the mean time, this reminded me to check in with the Prometheus Fusion Perfection blog, run by MakerBot Operator Mark Suppes, and the project’s new intern Domenick Bauer. PFP is an open-source project with the goal of finding a true energy solution through fusion. More here.

It looks like those guys have been using their Thing-O-Matic to prototype a couple of parts for the electron gun portion of their Bussard fusion reactor. The part ultimately needs to be ceramic, because it needs to be a great insulator and have a high heat tolerance. But to get the shape right, Domenick modeled the parts in OpenSCAD and made them with the Thing-O-Matic in the lab. They seem to have run out of nuclear green ABS, since all the pictures show the parts in blue. That’s okay, I guess.

The armature’s job is to hold the hot cathode in line with the accelerator annode and a piece of phosphor. They modeled the whole setup in a few pieces and assembled them with glue. The base is curved in order to sit nicely inside the reactor chamber.

Here’s what the assembled prototype for the armature looked like, but without the branch that holds the phosphor:


The version they ultimately sent to Shapeways for printing in ceramic is the model you see below. It’s shaped appropriately to hold the particular piece of phosphor they plan to use. That’s the beauty of having a MakerBot in your lab: make a frame for your oddly shaped piece of whatever, and make it just right.


Watch this space. It’s exciting work being done with a MakerBot, and it’s all open-source.