We’re accustomed to seeing innovations on the cutting edge of aeronautics and medicine resulting from 3D printing. Sometimes, however, it is the everyday object that needs renewed attention. North Dakota State University Student Amber Grindeland and her business partner Caet Fox have demonstrated how new processes can reshape the way we think about accepted objects with the reinvention of the clothes hanger.

IMG_2798_2-1024x680The pair, who have named their invention Geo Mod, showed off their product idea at the NDSU Innovation Challenge held in January. Their creation drew a great deal of interest from those milling about and revealed what apparently has been a long suppressed hatred of current hanger design.

Fox was able to identify easily with these feelings as they were the ones that led her to redesign the accepted form. After all, just because something has been in use in a certain way for a long time doesn’t mean you have to put up with its flaws. Her idea came to life when she shared it with Grindeland and they began to brainstorm alternatives. After several months of investigation and iteration, they developed a hanger unit based on 3D printed hexagonal shapes. Reminiscent of Legos® the hexagons can snap together easily to form whatever support is necessary for individual hanging needs.

This means that you can coordinate your hangers to your specific wardrobe – rather than trying to compensate for the fact that each wardrobe is different by forcing clothes awkwardly into a pre-existing shape. The Geo Mod’s can hold heels, belts, pants, open neck sweaters, whatever you want to throw at them because you can reconfigure the shape of the hanger in relation to a specific item of apparel.

IMG_2800-1024x768The entrepreneurial pair envisions that the hexagons would be sold in packs with a set of instructions and some suggestions regarding the ways they can be put together. Although some might be put off by the idea of having to assemble their own hanging systems, once they see the benefits to the organization of their wardrobe, they will most likely quickly overcome any trepidation.

And, as if the design itself isn’t enough, the hexagons are printed from corn-based plastic and are therefore, completely biodegradable. This is sure to appeal to the environmentally conscious clothes horse as the plastic hangers filling up closets these days are created from polystyrene and polycarbonate. With 8 billion of those hangers being tossed in the trash each year, the 1,000 plus years it takes for them to decompose can lead to visions of a world nearly completely filled with discarded clothes hangers! Grindeland boasted of their product’s environmentally friendly nature:

“With our hangers, they are 100% recyclable. And even if people forget or are too lazy to throw these in the recycling, they are still biodegradable. So, if they go to a landfill, they will break down quickly and leave no mark.”

IMG_2796_2-1024x768The product will be part of a competition to be held at the Fargodome on February 26 where $20,000 in cash prizes will be handed out to three teams of innovators.  Let’s hear your thoughts on these new hangers in the 3D Printed Hanger forum thread on 3DPB.com.

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