The Fulton Engine Project uses 3D printing

Robert Fulton was an American inventor and engineer. Steam was the defining technology of its day and Fulton is really one of the most significant pioneers in the field of steam power. He was in charge of developing many US warships and also used his engine design to create the first steamship, the Clermont. In today’s parlance you could say that Fulton was instrumental in making steam mainstream. Furthermore, without him no Huckleberry Finn. A group of intrepid hobbyists calling themselves the Followers of Fulton hope to remind others Fulton’s significance and the importance of his steam engine by rebuilding replicas of that engine. The Fulton Engine Project hopes to eventually build a full scale version of the steam engine that powered the Clermont (and perhaps the Clermont itself). An intermediate step is a scale model. 

The intrepid v& hard working Fulton Followers are using modern technologies such as laser cutting and 3D printing to make their unique steam engine. Shapeways helped out a teeny bit by printing the bell brackets for the ships bell which could not be made otherwise.You can see the original bell to the left and the modern one above.

We like to support interesting projects that push 3D printing technology forward or use the technology in new and interesting ways. If you’ve got a great project that needs our support let me know here. Thank you so much Fulton’s Followers for using the technology of today to let people relive the technology of yesteryear!

3 comments

  1. Pete Baker

    I like you layout of the article. Thanks for posting it.

    There are a few details that I would like to clarify.

    1 – Fulton didn’t actually design his steam engine. He did however have Boulton and Watt modifiy one of their engines for marine use. He also developed the drive mechanism that converted the linear motion of the engine to rotary motion at the paddlewheels. That’s what our engine project is all about.

    2 -There were many steamboats that preceeded The North River of Clermont both in Europe and in America. Fulton’s claim to fame is that he developed the first “successful” commercial use of the steamboat.

    3 -…calling themselves the Followers of Fulton… We actually are known as “Fulton’s Followers”. We are a group of volunteers donating our time and materials. We never knew each other before this project was conceived. We are located in four different states up & down the Eastern seaboard of the USA.

    4 – …build a full scale version of the steam engine that powered the Clermont (and perhaps the Clermont itself). This statement was the dream of the group know as “The Saugerties Fulton Steamboat Foundation”. They are no longer active. It was participating in this group that sparked my interest in Robert Fulton and in conceiving our “Fulton’s Followers” project.

    ….Thank you so much Fulton’s Followers for using the technology of today to let people relive the technology of yesteryear! …

    Our group wants to thank Shapeways for supporting our project. Shapeways is the only 3D printing service of the several contacted that offered to donate the bell brackets and lanyard lever. We are all donating our time and materials for the model. It is through companies like Shapeways & Bellingham Bells that we are able to develop a better product. _Note:_Bellingham Bells created the special size sandcast bell and donated it to our project.

    Thanks again,

    Pete Baker and the Fulton’s Followers

    1. Joris

      Pete,

      I’m so sorry for my inaccurate post! Thank you for providing us with the right info.

      Joris

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