Sponsored by FirstBuild and MakerBot, the IceBox Challenge has drawn some truly innovative talent. You can count on viewing streamlined, utilitarian 3D printed items that are generally nice to look at as well. For all of those out there with 3D printers, you have the option of downloading the designs from Thingiverse or FirstBuild, and trying them out for size yourself. Any of these designs gives you the opportunity to present an amazing conversation piece at a holiday party.
The contest ran between November 3 and November 23, 2014, and voting for a winner has been moved to the first week in January 2015 as FirstBuild and MakerBot take extra time to highlight 20 awesome finalists, all of whom have designs worth taking a gander at. One winner will be announced at International CES, one of the largest shows in the world highlighting electronics and innovations in the industry. The show is heavily attended by industry giants and enthusiasts and the winner will be announced there on January 5th.
The winning design will be featured on Thingiverse and also displayed in the MakerBot Retail Stores. The winner will also be able to decide on either a MakerBot Replicator 5th Generation or a MakerBot 2X as reward for first place.
Here are some of our favorites from the top 20 designs, and with so much to choose from, we all might have to buy a bigger refrigerator just to install and enjoy each of these uniquely useful devices. To see all of the 20 highlighted designs, click here.
Diabetes Insulin portable storage and shelf retention solution: Intended to keep multiple bottles from rolling around in the fridge, I like this one because it is a classic design which helps individuals manage medication better. And no one likes all those items that rattle around on the door when you open it. This could be used for many other items as well, obviously. Designer Roger Newmon was inspired as he was working on the challenge during November’s National Diabetes Awareness Month.
Oh, Butter Stick Cap – where have you been all my life? While I know I should be concerned about other items in the refrigerator affecting the smell and taste of the butter, it’s just the idea of putting a half-used stick back in, partially exposed, that drives me bananas. This little cap would please many to no end, I am sure. Gone are the days of wrapping the butter stick in plastic wrap or putting it back in the box in came in. This, by Karlin Yeh, is a perfect example of the simple, utilitarian genius designs we see in this challenge.
The Rad Reindeer, by Sebastian Kerner, looks like it has an awfully good chance of winning. It looks like it should be on the market already, and has all the earmarkings of a fantastic holiday gift that would be well-received by all. The Reindeer is a multi-purpose tool that just looks like fun to show off with, even if you might not require all its services.
The Rad Reindeer serves as:
A chain to stack bottles.
A bottle tilter to keep items from leaking.
A double chip clip.
And for all the bachelors out there who love a cold brew that is conveniently stored and opened with ease, just have a look at the One Move Bottle Storage and Opener, by Eduardo Núñez Navarro, which is a complete all-in-one system that stores the bottles in a hanging apparatus, opens the bottle on its way out, and delivers the cap to the user. All in one fell swoop, that’s not only convenient, it’s just plain fun, and you might have to worry about bottles getting opened when no one is even thirsty.
The STAACKER, by Tyler Cunningham, is something we could use to help achieve our dreams in having a tidy looking fridge without bowls side by side everywhere sporting saran wrap that has gone askew. The simple device works as a lid for the bowl to level the top so that another bowl or object can be placed on top of it. As an added bonus, saran wrap is also kept in place. An optional storage device for the refrigerator is available as well.
Ma-Cheese-Mo may be the winner of this contest purely based on creativity and fun factor. Designed by Moto Yono, the device offers a convenient way to get those slices of cheese out of the fridge. If you have a family heavily into the magic of grilled cheese sandwiches, this is the way to go for getting your dairy — fast — and fun. It mounts in your fridge with adhesive, and holds one standard pack of cheese slices. It loads from the front and dispenses each slice of cheese with ease.
The Clip-on Flip-Top Lid is another simply must have for the fridge. This is a smart design by Richard Cote that makes you slap yourself on the head wondering why you never thought of it. In a nod to portion control during the holiday season, it’s the perfect item for saving that can of soup, chili, or even the pet food — eliminating smells and waste. Again, this is another fun but highly useful item, even featuring a slot for a utensil.
The Herb Preserver comes along to save the lives of our basil and parsley none too soon. If you’ve either gone to the trouble of making a kitchen garden full of savory herbs — or, have gone to the expense of buying costly fresh herbs at the grocery store, you know how disappointing it is to watch them wilt, practically before your eyes. Designer Jordan Hildebrandt must have had first-hand experience with losing herbs in the fridge, motivating her to come up with the perfect design to keep us all stocked up with access to crisp, fresh flavors. In several easy steps, the user fills the base with water, locks on the lid, and places the magnetized device inside the fridge, where it takes up little space, and offers an aesthetically pleasing addition to your icebox.
Designer Helder Santos tackled two issues in one with his Secure Medical Case. The case helps keep medications requiring lower temperatures neatly arranged in your refrigerator, while locking them away from curious little hands. This looks like a must-have for many families, who generally have refrigerated medications up on the top shelf. A lock-box is the perfect solution, and another ‘wow, why didn’t we think of this before’ type of idea. It works with either wire-grid shelves or glass shelves and suction cups.
None of us likes a smelly fridge. While the baking soda concept works up to a point, if you have a large family and lots of meals and leftovers to work with, the fridge can take on a personal odor of its own that’s hard to eliminate. Chee Guan Ew decided to deal with this issue in creating the Fridge Deodoriser, a battery operated, compact device that is small enough to fit in the palm of your hand.
The bottom portion of the device contains either baking soda or charcoal, which Ew states lasts nearly three times as long for deodorizing purposes. The top portion of the design features a fan and sensor that kicks the Deodoriser into motion when the refrigerator door opens. After it closes, it continues to run for a short while, deodorizing the fridge and eliminating all the malodorous food smell. For the electronics involved in creating this device, check out the design here.
The Ice Man is another device which looks like it has a long career ahead of it for dwelling in the fridges of many, designed by Roger Newmon. This is another multi-purpose 3D printed tool which helps you open (or close) just about any common item you might struggle with on a daily basis from bottles to cans to baggies. It opens soda tabs, 2-liter bottle tops, and bottle caps, as well as featuring a ziplock closing feature on its ‘arm.’ It also features a design for easy storage right in the refrigerator.
In the perfect gift from a husband to wife, especially for all the cooking going on during the holidays, is the Casserole Cooler by Michael Rigsby who was inspired by his wife’s request. We’ve all needed something like this at one time or another. While it’s not the prettiest design on the list, it may be the most necessary for cooking a big holiday meal and coordinating multiple dishes coming out of the oven and going onto the table. It works with a very simple premise using a fan to suck out the hot air and circulate chilly air around the casserole dish until it cools down.
Each of these items is not only a delight to check out, but also serves as inspiration for other makers and soon-to-be 3D printing enthusiasts. As technology provides us with more options to be independent manufacturers right in our homes, these 3D printed items show us just how easy it is to think of a design that works for your own needs, design it, and print it out right in your own home — or prepare it to go mainstream in the marketplace, sharing with others and perhaps even making an income out of a fun but useful idea.
Did you enter a design in this contest or are you motivated to try next year? Tell us what you think of these designs or something you also think could be useful in the ‘icebox’ over at the 2014 FirstBuild/MakerBot IceBox Challenge forum thread on 3DPB.com.