Water Resources Center

The Water Resources Center is affiliated with the College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences and University of Minnesota Extension.

UMD-NRRI makes custom tools for laboratories

by June Kallestad, UMD—NRRI

“If only we had a…[fill in the blank].” As a busy scientist or student in the lab, you may be able to dream up a useful new tool, but lack the time to design it and build it. Don’t lose the dream. The University of Minnesota Duluth (UMD) now has rapid prototyping technology to make your ideas into something you can really use.

Here’s an example. Water quality biologists at UMD’s Natural Resources Research Institute (NRRI) wanted to save time and money by making their lab operate more efficiently with a larger water sample splitter. Biological supply companies didn’t sell what they needed. NRRI biologist Dan Breneman explained his needs to Steve Kossett, Chief Design Engineer at NRRI’s rapid prototype center. Kossett made a CAD drawing according to Breneman’s specifications, and within days the scientists had a sample splitter that fit their needs exactly.

“Steve was able to modify the dimensions of an existing device,” explained Breneman. “This very simple tool has saved us a lot of time and money in the lab.” NRRI’s rapid prototype center—Northern Lights Technology Center—uses the latest laser and threedimensional printer technologies to make plastic and resin-based items from computer-generated drawings. They can also use CT scan files to build 3D skeletal models or images, as well as direct metal cast parts in aluminum and zinc.

For more information about the capabilities and possibilities for applications of these technologies, please visit www.nrri.umn.edu/NLTC or call Katy Larson at 218-720-4301.

Dan Breneman demonstrates the usefulness of his lab’s new
and improved water sample splitter. The original splitter is in the
foreground. Photo credit: UMD-NRRI