Has your toaster or vacuum cleaner reached the end of its usable life? In the past, you would probably not think twice before throwing it into the bin. These days, however, you might be able to repurpose some of its salvageable components and build something awesome using 3D printed parts. This week’s Maker Tale re-imagines our relationship with these everyday products, helping us envision a future in which users are actively involved in producing, repairing and customizing their own stuff.


Meet the maker: Jesse Howard

Jesse is an Amsterdam-based designer interested in open source initiatives. He began exploring 3D printing as a way to create traditionally mass-produced objects locally and one-at-a-time. Many of Jesse’s projects are geared towards investigating alternatives to standard production methods. He recently got in touch with one of our Amsterdam Hubs to 3D print several components for a grinder prototype. We had a chat with him to learn more about the project.

Jesse, can you tell us a bit more about your grinder prototype?

I designed the grinder as part of a larger collection of kitchen appliances that can be produced (and repaired, or modified) by the user. Each appliance in the collection is made up of standard components and parts that can be easily reproduced by 3D printing or CNC milling, in combination with as few specialized components as possible. The grinder, for instance, uses a standard food jar as the grinding chamber, a 3D-printed housing and switch cover, and an electric motor salvaged from an old coffee grinder.


Many home appliances are relatively simple devices. But when they stop working, it is often more economical to throw them out and buy a replacement than to repair the problem. I wanted to challenge this idea by making a grinder that could be repaired by almost anyone.

What will you be using it for?

The grinder is multi-purpose. I’m using it to grind coffee, but it can also be used for spices for example.

What was your 3D Hubs experience like?

Very good. Jan-Willem quickly printed out test pieces and posted pictures to the site for me to check. He was precise and eager to make each piece perfect, both functionally and aesthetically. Being able to work and communicate one-on-one with someone locally made the whole experience quite valuable.

Meet the Hub: Jan-Willem Wirtz

Jan-Willem is a creative consultant that strives to make 3D printing more accessible for consumers and have a bit of fun along the way. He purchased his first Thing-o-Matic earlier this year, after attending a local 3D printing seminar. Most recently, he’s been printing orders for Jesse and other 3D Hubs users on his brand new Replicator 2. We had a chance to speak with him to gather advice for other printers interested in printing Jesse’s grinder model.

Jan-Willem, how did the printing process for the grinder go?

It was a really nice job and pretty easy to print. I knew the aesthetics were important so I ran a couple of tests to get the smoothness right. Other than that, the printing process was fairly straightforward.

Do you have specific advice for printing this model?

I ran the print with 0.2 mm layers using PLA. My only advice would be not to run the print upside down but in the direction provided by Jesse’s model.

Visit Jesse’s website to learn more about this project or check out his files on Thingiverse to start building your own grinder - more files and instructions will be added soon!


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