While the vast majority of new manufactured products make use of 3D designs, one project has taken an unusual step with theirs.
The “Butter Boss” is a curious kitchen gadget that more easily deploys delicious butter onto cooking surfaces and food ingredients. The project is currently raising funds for larger rates of production, as is customary in such Kickstarter campaigns.
You can, of course, pre-order a Butter Boss if you have a grill requiring a tasty butter coating, but there’s something interesting in the Kickstarter page: GooseGadgets, the company behind the project, provides the option to purchase the “3D printer files” instead of an actual production item.
Here’s how it works: According to Geraint Krumpe of YLine Design, the Butter Boss is a 3D printed item, and thus there is a 3D digital model. You’re able to purchase a Butter Boss unit for between USD$16-22 (depending on how quickly they sell), but if you pay USD$24, you’ll also receive the 3D model.
Having the 3D model means you’ll be able to produce as many Butter Bosses as you like, assuming you have access to a 3D printer.
Some cautions here, though:
First, if you were to print one of these, you’d best make it using a foodsafe material. There are many plastics that are definitely not foodsafe, as they contain toxic chemicals you would not want to ingest.
Secondly, even if using foodsafe material, you must ensure the object is completely smooth. Typical personal 3D printers produce objects with layer lines. These lines are in fact tiny crevices where organic material can collect if exposed to food substances. You must print objects that will repeatedly contact food in a way that has no layer lines. This could mean printing on an expensive industrial printer, or finishing your object with acetone smoothing or judicious sanding and painting.
Aside from safety, we’re interested in this marketing approach: selling not only the product, but its digital design at the same time. This is perhaps not a wise strategy for complex objects, but for one as straightforward as the Butter Boss, it makes sense, as some buyers will have 3D printers and could be thrilled at the thought of easily making more of this unusual kitchen gadget - whether they do or not.
So far, the Kickstarter page indicates some people are paying the few extra dollars for access to the digital files, so this approach could be working.