During our Home Fix-It Challenge, we thought we'd highlight an inspiring and real world story to encourage you that using 3D Printing in the home is possible. While our focus at Polar 3D is on education, many of our customers use Polar 3D printers and software to support hobbies and projects at home. The following post is by one of our team members, Industrial Designer and Director of Product Development, David Parrott, who used a Polar 3D printer and the Polar Cloud to create a custom plumbing fixture for a bathroom remodeling project at home. 

“My house is an old Victorian, built in 1895, and I love doing home improvement work myself. As anyone with an old house will tell you, nothing in a 100+ year old home is square or standard; if you want to do it yourself, you’re often fabricating custom things by hand. One area where this is particularly problematic is plumbing. Because the home DIYer traditionally hasn’t had the ability to fabricate metal plumbing components, (s)he has to settle for what’s available from the hardware store – or spend a bundle at a specialty plumbing shop. For this project, even the specialty store didn’t have what I need. This is where 3D printing came in. Because I had access to a Polar 3D printer, I was able to design a custom plumbing component that overcame the functional challenges of my non-standard plumbing and matched the aesthetic of the new bathroom. I then printed the new piece, using the Polar Cloud."

THE PROBLEM

"I had just replaced the existing vanity sink with a new console sink from Signature Hardware. Rather than tear up the subfloor, I left the existing drain pipe in the floor, which protruded from the new tile. (It used to be hidden by the vanity.) I was planning to use a tall, chrome box flange from Home Depot to cover it, so I wasn’t worried about the height of the compression fitting. When I finally purchased and test-fit the new box flange, I discovered that it wasn’t tall enough to cover the compression fitting. Even Signature Hardware and Keidel Plumbing Supply – specialty suppliers with amazing varieties of non-standard fixtures – didn’t have a box flange that would work.
It was too late to change the plumbing without tearing up the new tile (and subfloor). Further, the new box flange was too plain, aesthetically, to match the Victorian-like ornamentation of the rest of the room."

THE SOLUTION

"When I realized that I’d have to waste a week of work and hundreds of dollars of tile to replace this simple fitting, my mind quickly turned to other solutions. I used Solidworks and my Polar3D printer to quickly model and print a custom box flange that was taller than standard and with an aesthetic that reflected the shape of the surrounding baseboard molding. The new flange design took just minutes to create in Solidworks and could have been produced in Fusion 360, Sketchup or any other free piece of CAD (Computer Aided Design) software. I used the basic profile of our new baseboards for the shape."

"Printing the new flange was easy with the Polar Cloud. I just uploaded the files from my computer and watched them build – from my computer and iPhone – using the integrated webcam. The entire print just took a few hours, and when it was done I had a real, solid plastic part that was stronger and more unique than anything I could buy on-line or locally."

"I test fit the new piece before painting it. Everything fit perfectly. The plastic was durable and already relatively smooth. 
After a very little sanding and some spray paint, the result looks like a production fitting. I used the cheapest chrome Rustoleum paint I could find, and it turned out pretty well.
I installed the new box flange and shot a couple of photos. The images below show it compared to a production box flange and the finished unit, installed in the bathroom. The entire process ofcreating, preparing and installing the new box flange took less than 6 hours – most of it unattended printing.
Additive manufacturing has the potential to change the way products are designed, manufactured, and sold. But the future in which everyone has a 3D printer at home, and the additive process replaces high volume manufacturing methods (e.g. injection molding, et al.) seems like it’s still a couple years out. In the meantime, users like me can use low cost, high reliability 3D printers like Polar 3D and others to produce professional-grade products that are quick, inexpensive and dialed for custom applications. For this and other projects, I couldn’t have done it without Polar3D.”

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