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Young Engineer of the Year showcases award-winning Plybot at Savoy Place

Josh Mitchell is about to complete his final year of A’ levels in Maths, Further Maths, Physics and Systems at Holmes Chapel Comprehensive School near Crewe. As well as studying, he’s just returned home after competing in the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair in Pittsburgh, USA as one of three winning representatives from this year’s Big Bang Fair in Birmingham.

Josh was named “UK Young Engineer of the Year” at the Big Bang Fair for his award-winning innovation, Plybot – a unique 3D printer that can be built for a fraction of the cost of commercial 3D printers.

Josh’s passion for engineering grew from spending time in the family garage taking objects apart and building new things from salvaged materials and learning about electronics, hacking computer games. Josh said that once he’d built one thing, it gave him the confidence to build something else: “3D printing got a lot of press in 2012 but they were much too expensive for a 12 year old. I ended up building one pretty much completely out of scrap parts, from old salvaged wood to parts from old disassembled paper printers.”

The cheapest consumer 3D printers on the market start at around £100 but Josh’s invention can be built for less than £50 as a one-off, with the bulk price expected to be much lower.

“The print design programmes used are free as they are open sourced on the internet. The outer casing on this model is made from MDF and the printer’s capable of printing with many different materials, however I recommend PLA - a bioplastic.”

Josh’s invention is not only cost effective, but he has incorporated a moving, SCARA arm configuration that uses cheap rotary skateboard bearings, rather than expensive linear rail systems - a unique addition to the low-cost market that brings the cost down further.

During his visit to Savoy Place, Josh was happy to demonstrate how Plybot works to IET Chief Executive, Nigel Fine, IET Head of Membership, Mark Organ and IET Education 5-19 Manager, David Lakin.

David Lakin, who attended the Big Bang Fair and saw Josh’s presentation said: “3D printing is already having an impact on our lives with more and more organisations using 3D printed components in their manufacturing process and we were impressed by Josh’s efforts.”

Josh has received IET membership to support him in his new venture and future engineering career.”

What’s next for Josh and Plybot?

“After my A’ levels I’m planning to take a Gap Year to concentrate on my business and commercialise the Plybot.“Josh said. “I then hope to study Engineering at university. I’m also really interested the construction side of 3D printing, such as printing with concrete and even mud.”

We wish Josh every success in his exams and new venture.