Reddit user Toolaa describes an amazing approach to save a great deal of money by 3D printing.
Toolaa apparently works at a countertop manufacturer. Companies like this use a variety of unusual materials to cast sometimes very large counters that would be custom-installed into residences or offices.
If you’ve ever been involved in these matters, you’d know how careful the production must be. The cost of producing, transporting to the site and installing the countertop is massively expensive, so no mistakes are allowed. Typically the measurements for the countertop are taken multiple times to absolutely guarantee they are correct, as a mistake could blow off the profits for the week if a re-do is required.
Toolaa explained that a draftsman made a mistake in the 3D design of a countertop, and as a result the holes for the electrical outlets were mistakenly made far too large for the intended fixture. Oh oh! It’s re-do time! Toolaa believe the re-do would cost at least US$3,000 to perform, possibly representing the profit on multiple jobs.
But wait! No re-do was required, as they devised a brilliant solution using 3D printing.
Toolaa explains what happened:
“I tried to find any existing commercially available box extender that would center the plug and wedge tightly into the cutout we made. I was about to give up and order the replacement material. Driving back from the job site it occurred to me that I could model and print my own.
The design has tapered wedges in the corner that are pulled tight against the walls when the screws are tightened. This centered the outlet and ensured that the cover plate covered the oversized hole.”
Here we have yet another profitable use of 3D printing: fixing a bad design. In this case the thousands saved would easily justify the acquisition of a suitable 3D printer. And that’s with only a single instance of this problem. If this happened again, it’s more reduced expenses that go to the bottom line.
Of course, 3D printing cannot fix every type of mistaken design — but in some cases it certainly can. One of the factors involved here was no doubt the fact that the product was a custom design that would not be made again, essentially doubling the cost to fix it using conventional approaches.
This is somewhat reminiscent of the use case we saw with Forecast3D, where they were using 3D printing as an interim production method to overcome a bad physical design. When production methods fail, perhaps 3D printing can provide a rescue.
There are certainly many use cases for 3D printing that have yet to be discovered. Perhaps you will find one yourself.
And we will tell the world about it.