How a 3D printer saved an obsolete Kickstarter iPhone dock project


Crowd funding, besides 3D printing of course, is one of those successful internet developments of last 2 years and many entrepreneurs were born using the crowd funding platform Kickstarter. The Elevation Dock is a classic Kickstarter project where the funding reach a staggering 1.4 million dollars, topping everyone’s expectation. However, the actual MP product was delayed many times, resulting in overlapping Apple’s announcement of the Lightning connector, while the Elevation Dock was created using the ‘old’ 24 pins connector, making the Elevation Dock an instant obsolete product.

And this is were 3D printing comes to rescue. London-based software engineer and 3D-printer enthusiast Mike Hellers is one of those early 3D printing adaptors and decided to create a solution for this problem helping out 12,521 customers. Using a MakerBot 3D printer he created a dock piece which fits the new lightning adaptor and posted his design to Thingiverse and set up a Shapeways shop to help those who didn’t have access to a 3D printer.

The best part is that the story didn’t stop here. The piece that Mike Hellers created has a small flaw in its design because the cable of the Lighting adaptor was not holding its position perfectly, so was discovered by Metafilter founder Matt Haughey. He contacted a friend, improved the design, tested it and uploaded the new design to the Thingiverse community. It took them only a few hours to meld two design together to further improve product.

The original maker of the Elevation Dock, Elevation Labs, posted a message on their page where the promised a solution within five weeks. -Don’t get me wrong here, but that is a pretty quick timeframe in the hardware manufacturing business to present a hardware upgrade-. However, the 3D printing community was way ahead of them, making you wonder if  this will open up a new market for 3D printers in the customer service business. Can you imagine a customer service division where they instantly print the replacement part you need? I sure can.

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