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Our aquaponic system

Our aquaponic system

Our classroom aquaponic system has been functioning nicely for the past year in our classroom. This past fall we had a fish get stuck on the pump’s intake. The fish died and the others ate most of the remains. The tilapia are quite aggressive. I used our newly donated Replicator to make a guard to protect the remaining six fish.

3d printed pump inlet guard

3d printed pump inlet guard

Our fish remained healthy until this past weekend. An unpleasant smell greeted me upon arriving to my classroom after the weekend. One fish was dead and the water looked a bit murky. It was obvious the water was not circulating to the top growing media which acts as our natural filter. After checking for clogs in the hoses I removed the pump from the tank to find a damaged impeller.

Broken water pump impeller

Broken water pump impeller

I located a replacement part online for about $30 with ground shipping, but the fish would be long dead by that time. One of my coworkers suggested I create a replacement on our 3d printer. The replacement part for sale was a much less complicated design with three blades. I decided to give it a shot to save the fish.

Original, V1, V3

Original, V1, V3

After the third print I had a good fit.

Repaired impeller

Repaired impeller

Repaired pump

Repaired pump

The final part was printed at 100% infill to make it as strong as possible. I think I might make the center cylinder thicker to make it even stronger. You can download the file on Thingiverse here, http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:281473. Now I need to turn this into a lesson for my students about using 3d printers to solve everyday problems.

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