Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering (MS)

Administrative Home Department

Department of Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics

Advisor 1

Gordon G. Parker

Committee Member 1

Jay Meldrum

Committee Member 2

Wayne W. Weaver


Testing model scale prototypes is integral to the development of wave energy converter (WEC) technology. Model scale WECs are tested in wave tanks where they are subjected to repeatable wave fields. Their presence in water creates radiated waves that eventually reflect off tank walls disrupting the intended wave field. Fabrication of model scale WECs is another developing aspect of tank testing. Often model WECs are built of foam. Additive manufacturing is a promising alternative although the most common method, fused deposition modeling (FDM) 3D printing, does not typically produce waterproof parts. The goals of this work were 1) develop a method to characterize tank reflections on a model specific basis and 2) develop an efficient and economic method for creating FDM 3D printed model WECs. A spherical physical model buoy was developed to act as both an actuator and sensor to quantify reflections in a circular tank. In conjunction with a calibrated computational model, it detected and quantified changes in reflections caused by varying damping treatments applied to tank walls. A waterproofing technique for FDM 3D printed buoys was found. This work demonstrates that damping treatments can be tuned on a model specific basis prior to tank testing through the use of WEC model surrogate buoys, and that these surrogate buoys can be efficiently and economically produced using the widely available technology of FDM 3D printing.