A simple snow shovel attachment project made extensive use of 3D printing technology to develop a unique product.
The “HEFT” is a secondary handle you can quickly snap onto a snow shovel to provide a significantly easier shoveling experience. The co-inventor, Marco Longley, could not use a shovel himself without the attachment, as he suffers from physical disabilities due to a previous accident, and pursued the project as a way to resolve the issue.
Development of the HEFT extensively used 3D printing technology by AssentWorks, Canada’s (and one of the world’s) largest makerspace, where the product underwent some eighteen iterations before arriving at a design that was simultaneously inexpensive to manufacture and sufficiently strong to function.
The development process involved repeatedly improving the design and reviewing it with the manufacturer, who would eventually create injection molds to mass produce the product. Each iteration altered the geometry to optimize the molding process, as well as decreasing the amount of material required.
The development team, lead by industrial designer David Bernhardt, (also one of the key designers of Urbee in 2011, the world’s first 3D printed automobile), first developed ABS plastic prototypes on a Stratasys uPrint, but then proceeded to produce stronger prototypes in PC-ABS material on a Fortus 400mc industrial 3D printer.
The product was – and is – an incredible success in Canada, demonstrating the incredible ability available to any entrepreneur or product developer to quickly and efficiently create new products using 3D printing.