15 Surprising Ways Firefighters Are Using 3D Printing
Fire Fighter Captain Andrew Stotts first heard about 3D printing from a friend who is a high school shop teacher. Ever since then he's been hooked - hooked to the point that in the past year and a half, he now owns and operates a fleet of 15 printers.
Some of Stotts' printers.
Stotts has immersed himself in the world of 3D printing, even going as far as helping San Diego based Robo 3D refurbish some of their units for testing. His printer farm is made up of used Robo R1 and R1 Plus printers that he has refurbished himself. Stotts is constantly working and tweaking his printers to fit his needs, and to test various and new filament - he has used nearly every filament available on the market!
So, with all those printers, what is he printing?
"Most of my functional prints improve working conditions at my work, or repair and improve home appliances," claims Stotts. He continues that, "I am a fabricator on my days off from the fire department and 3D printing has improved my ability to design and prototype. I can build things that were not possible before."
A few more members of Stotts' print farm
At MatterHackers, we can't stress Stotts' outlook on 3D printing enough. It truly is for everyone, and can be used to make quick, functional parts that improve your day, job, or life in the simplest of ways.
To prove this, here are 15 prints that Stotts created to improve his workplace and home.
1. Rings printed in NinjaFlex. Wearing metal rings on the job can catch easily and can cause injury, so Stotts prints these temporary rings for his team to wear while working.
2. A car alternator.
3. A volume control knob for a fire engine head set - the original was lost.
4. A replacement cup holder for the fire engine.
5. A narcotic lock box insert to keep drugs secure. These are on all the station's fire engines and ambulances.
6. The "No Lock" - a mechanism that prevents the engine doors from locking when out on calls. This helps provide quick exits/entrances to the vehicle.
7. A splint for his dog's leg.
8. Helmet clips to keep equipment secure.
9. A clip for the garage control that attaches to the engine's sun visor.
10. A radio belt holder for two-way radios.
11. A maglight holder.
12. A new hair spray lid for his daughter while she was traveling.
13. A new coffee/ tea pot mechanism.
This is a bonus picture of the broken coffee pot component vs. Stotts' printed replacement. A simple print saved the pot, as well as the agony of having to shop for an item that quickly becomes the morning lifesaver.
14. A gasket for a boat fuel tank inspection cover. Printed in Polymakr PolyFlex.
15. And last, but certainly not least, Stotts has also been printing e-NABLE hands. For those of you who are interested in joining the e-NABLE community, check out the MatterHackers e-NABLE hub.
Stotts' most recent e-NABLE hand
Stotts continues to look at items and how to improve them with 3D printing everyday. He hopes that in the future printers will have a faster print time. He also hopes to see a machine that we'll call the "Triple Threat" - a 3D printer, a laser cutter, and a mill all in one. It gives us the chills just to think about it!
"Everyone I have introduced 3D printing to has had no problem taking it up," says Stotts. Simply put, 3D printing can, and is for anyone and everyone.
Interested in downloading and printing Stott's designs? Get them free at the MatterHackers Digital Design Store.
Do you think you have what it takes to be our next Hacker of the Month? Simply follow us on Facebook/Twitter or email email@example.com. Tell us about your project or 3D printed creation, and you could be featured in our next newsletter. Hacker of the Month will also win 3 free spools of PRO series PLA or ABS filament to further their pursuit of 3D printing greatness.