How AM can posh up the coffee latte

Domestic appliance manufacturer Miele has offered its customers a broad range of 3D-printable accessories draws a bright picture on the way forward

2020/06/22 — What has long been realisable for some tinkerers on the AM scene, the household appliance manufacturer Miele has made possible for the »broad masses« (possessing an FDM-printer) since May 2020: According to the company, Miele is first in its branch of industry to offer its customers a broad range of 3D-printable accessories. Data records for ten objects can be downloaded with immediate effect and free of charge from the Thingiverse platform. These include kitchen gadgets, vacuum cleaner accessories and useful items for handyman.

Around one month after the first online launch, David Buhl, 3D4U project manager at Miele's Bielefeld plant, is pleased with the interim results when asked by Formnext magazine: »The response so far has been extremely positive and shows that the project is very well received by our customers and the 3D printing community. Currently, the most popular 3D4U models are the coffee clip and the drill hole extractor. Both have already registered more than 2,000 downloads in the first four weeks«.

At the same time, Miele receives direct feedback from users via the »Thingiverse« platform, which belongs to Makerbot, and can implement, check and put design changes online. »For example, there was sporadic feedback about misprints on one component, which occurred under unfavourable printing conditions. To enable a successful print for an even larger number of users, we published an optimized version of the component within a very short time,« says Buhl.

Kitchen gadgets and useful items for handyman

With its project 3D4U Miele is offering ten objects in the three categories »Kitchen gadgets«, »Vacuum cleaners« and »Handyman«. These include a borehole cleaning aid with an airflow design: Fitted to the handle tube, this device sticks to the wall, leaving both hands free to operate the drill. Another useful device is the 3D4U valuables separator.

3D4U also offers handy accessories for use around the kitchen as printable downloads, for example a coffee clip which allows packaging to be re-sealed once opened and the contents to be precisely dispensed via a screw cap or the motif dispenser which conjures up a motif on a coffee for example. The 3D4U project will also be expanded before the end of this year.

In addition to the AM designs, Miele also provides a description of recommended printing parameters for FDM (or FLM) printers. As some of the objects are also used in the kitchen and may come into contact with food, Miele points out that only nationally approved materials should be used for this purpose. In the European Union, these must conform to EU Regulations (EC) No. 1935/2004 and No. 10/2011, while Regulation 21 CFR applies to the American market, for example.

3D printed spare parts under test

In addition to 3D printing accessories, Miele also keeps an eye on spare parts. »More specifically, we are also currently testing whether it is possible to offer certain spare parts as a print option«, reports Buhl, who also adds in a limiting manner that a large number of these parts generally have mechanical, electrical or optical functions »which cannot yet be realized in the desired quality using 3D printing today«.

Further Information:

Company profile:

  • According to the company, Miele is the world's leading manufacturer of premium domestic appliances including cooking, baking and steam-cooking appliances, refrigeration products, coffee makers, dishwashers and laundry and floor care products. The Miele company, founded in 1899, has eight production plants in Germany as well as one plant each in Austria, the Czech Republic, China, Romania and Poland. Turnover in the 2018/19 business year was around € 4.16 bn, with a share of business outside Germany of approx. 71%. Miele is represented with its own sales subsidiaries and via importers in almost 100 countries. Throughout the world, the family-run enterprise, employs a workforce of around 20,500, whereof 11,050 are employed in Germany.