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The Squizmo: 3D Printing and Dental Hygiene

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The Squizmo Squeezing a Tube

The Squizmo Squeezing a Tube

If others have been warned not to “get you started” on the difficulties of getting the last bit of toothpaste out of the bottle or, if you have ever found yourself trying to squeeze toothpaste out of a larger tube into the smaller travel tube because you just can’t reconcile yourself to paying the higher per ounce price of the travel size…then this gadget is for you. If you are an enthusiastic fan of all things 3D printing, then this gadget is also for you. If all of that describes you, then this may be as close to heaven as you get.

I would like to  introduce you to: The Squizmo.

The Squizmo’s inventor, Chris Wagner, found his blood pressure rising as he made attempt after messy attempt to squeeze toothpaste from the big tube into a travel size tube, and decided that he would be victim no more. Instead, he put his ingenuity and background in manufacturing engineering and product development to good use and created a device that not only will ensure a tube of toothpaste can be completely emptied of its contents, but also will reseal the tube making it infinitely reusable.

Squizmo Iterations

Squizmo Iterations

The device consists of a 3D printed frame, a knob and pin assembly, and a gripping material. To use the mechanism, the lever arm opens the Squizmo and the user then inserts the tube. The gripping material pulls the tube through as the knob is turned squeezing every last drop of paste out of the tube. While the gripping material itself is available at a wide variety of home repair type stores, this is no jerry-rigged device. Wagner went through a number of iterations from concept to print before deciding on its final form. Once the form had been selected, he further tested its durability and functionality both by heavy use and through modeling stress distribution using FEA software. After each test, he returned to the device to make adjustments to thicknesses, shape, and flexibility.

Two Color Print for Personalized Tags

Two Color Print for Personalized Tags

This is not the first toothpaste emptying invention to ever hit the market.  In fact a much less expensive version is available through which the user can pull the tube of toothpaste in such a way that it compresses the tube completely. However, there are no other tube squeezers that also offer resealing or the turnkey mechanism for pulling the tube through…and certainly no others that give you the option of using its creation as a 3D printing tutorial. After all, you can just slide the tube of the toothpaste across the edge of the counter if practicality is all you want: the Squizmo offers 3D printed style.

Wagner considered injection molding as a method for making his vision a reality, but quickly realized that because of the low part volume and the complexity of the tube’s geometry, it was an ideal object to create with a 3D printer. He fine tuned his production methods during the prototyping phase and was able to reduce his costs by buying filament in bulk for an initial run of 50 Squizmos.

Initial 50 Gadget Production Run

Initial 50 Gadget Production Run

Once Wagner had perfected his device and the method for high volume production, he turned to Kickstarter to get the necessary funding. One of the things that makes Squizmo interesting for 3D printing enthusiasts, besides its novelty, is the ability to use the device as a 3D printing training lesson. Wagner has created a document with an in depth discussion of the issues necessary for familiarity with 3D printing, such as layer thicknesses, support materials, part strengths, and surface finishes.  The documet is called called “3D Printing Squizmo.” For backers who pledge $500 or more, he will offer a workshop during which participants will create their own personalized Squizmo.

FEA Software Stress Model

FEA Software Stress Model

As a reward for supporting his project, Wagner will also give you the CAD file needed to print your own. You can either send that off to be printed or you can print it yourself. If you’d rather not even go through the trouble of that step, for $15 he will print, on his specially modified Stratasys machine, a personalized Squizmo with text printed on the lever arm in an alternative color.

This tag could come in handy once these become a normal part of everybody’s bathroom kit. If somebody tries to use yours, you can just point to the tag and say: Leggo my Squizmo.

What you think of the Squizmo.  Have you backed the Kickstarter project?  Let us know in the Squizmo forum thread at 3DPB.com.

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