Elkay, a plumbing products company based in Chicago, has plants across the U.S. and is a large manufacturer of stainless steel sinks, water coolers, drinking fountains, bottle filler stations, faucets, and cabinets. Later this year, the company will be holding its share-holders meeting and wanted something meaningful and original to present the shareholders.
The company decided to 3D print 200 miniature versions of two sinks they manufacture and turn them into keychains. “We thought it would be a good idea to present them with something for a keepsake,” said Daren Searle, Robotics Engineer and Maintenance Manager at Elkay. “These are not critical or lifesaving parts, but hopefully will offer enjoyment to others.”
This isn’t just any sink, but an exact replicas of products Elkay manufacturers. “Though the thickness is varied due to the fact that stainless steel sinks are made from thin sheet metal, the rest of the sink is typical of what we manufacture, scaled way down of course,” said Searle. The miniature sink keychains also have the Elkay logo on one side.
Elkay provided the 3D digital file and the sinks were printed using a Connex3 3D printer. The material Elkay chose is a grey digital ABS, which is a strong, flexible plastic and the grey color represents the stainless steel of the life-size sinks.
3D printing offers limitless possibilities for custom promotional items. Just about anything you can imagine can become a product. If the items are not going to be mass produced, 3D printing provides a cost effective solution. Before 3D printing, creating custom items with traditional manufacturing techniques, like injection molding, would have been much more expensive.