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Bryan Alintoff is an inventor with a mission—to not only keep sinks clean, but to reduce water usage, too. He knows the pains of a dirty sink; having to constantly be scooping water all around the basin to splash away toothpaste, facial hair, makeup, and more, and also how much water this time-invasive process can use up. That’s why he created the Sink Spinner, a revolutionary device created with the assistance of ProtoCAM and the ever-evolving technology that is 3D additive manufacturing. It’s a project that will help conserve water for all—and cut down on cleaning time.
It all started with a 3rd grade school project. In 2017, Alintoff’s son, Hayden, was given an assignment to create a pitch for an invention and present it to a panel, not unlike the ABC show Shark Tank. After weeks of trying to think up an invention, Alintoff, exhausted after a full day of work, sent Hayden to brush his teeth and get ready for bed; and then he had an epiphany.
“Every time [Hayden] brushes his teeth, the toothpaste is everywhere,” Alintoff recalls thinking. “And if you don’t get to [the toothpaste] quickly, it’s like glue afterwards. When I brush my teeth, I scoop my hand and I splash the water around; and I said to myself, if I can get the water to spin around, I don’t have to rinse the sink every morning and every night.” Alintoff immediately ran to his son with the idea, who dubbed the invention, the Sink Spinner.
Alintoff and Hayden created a crude prototype and presented the project to a panel of judges at Hayden’s school. “Every parent and teacher came up to me for weeks saying, ‘when you get that, I want one, I need one,” Alintoff remembers. A provisional patent was filed and Alintoff set about beginning the manufacturing process.
Prototyping via 3D Printing
With the assistance of his brother-in-law, Alintoff began creating ideas for designs. A patent attorney Alintoff spoke with early in the process gave him the idea to purchase a 3D printer and start creating and testing prototypes in-house. “[The attorney] mentioned that back in the day, it was very costly to come up with prototypes because you really had to go somewhere else to have them done,” Alintoff remembers of their conversation. “He said that now with the 3D printer, you can prototype anything.”
Alintoff considered utilizing a local university’s 3D printers, but as the design would require several different iterations to test, the decision was made to purchase a desktop printer and utilize that for prototyping and testing. After several iterations, a proof of concept was created with both a spin mode and an aerator mode, and engineers were brought on board to ensure the manufacturability of the product.
Having created a valid, workable product, Alintoff and Hayden realized that the product might be working a little too well. With a full, regular stream of water running through the system at approximately two gallons per minute, Alintoff says “the thing was spinning so fast, it could probably take off tar!”
Realizing the product could serve the function they had sought out with less water passing through the system, they began to experiment with slowing the flow of water. They were able to get the flow rate down to 1.5 gallons per minute through the spin mode, and to one gallon per minute in the aerate mode. “There’s no reason to use all that water. We can save water, and we can help save the planet a little bit,” Alintoff says. Along with his conservation efforts with the Sink Spinner, Alintoff is a member of the Alliance for Water Efficiency, which strives to make a difference in preserving our water resources.
For Alintoff though, it comes down to the function of the product as both a sink cleaner, AND a water conservation tool. “We’re not just another adapter that goes on your sink to save water. We love saving water, and we’re so focused on saving water, but most importantly it’s the function; people look at [the product] and see the spin mode, and they are just blown away.”
Achieving a Presentation Product Prior to Production: Enter ProtoCAM
Once Alintoff had a refined 3D file, he was ready to start building his marketing materials as he researched large-scale manufacturing options. As he began setting up a website and preparing for a Kickstarter launch, Alintoff realized he would need a sleek, showcase-worthy Sink Spinner to present on his marketing platforms that matched the specs of the final manufactured product.
ProtoCAM was recommended to Alintoff as a company who could help create the presentation product he desired. He contacted our Vice President of Sales and Marketing, Bob Holbrook, who was ready to take on the challenge. “When I talked to Bob, I said, you know, we can get the high-quality prints right from ProtoCAM, and that’s what we did,” Alintoff says.
Alintoff’s experience with ProtoCAM, from the front of house to the back workshop, was, in a word, excellent. Ryan Schmidt, Alintoff’s project engineer, was available every step of the way to help him create a perfect, finished STL file. “He was amazing,” Alintoff says of Schmidt. “He would look at the STL file, and any kind of thing he saw that was maybe a little question mark, or needed a little tweaking, or wasn’t quite right, he immediately got back to me and we were able at that point to have our engineers tweak things the way he needed to get everything perfect.”
Alintoff was in a rush to receive the showcase product, as his marketing and videography endeavors were running full steam ahead, but this was no problem for ProtoCAM. “I told Ryan, I need this done in a week or a week and a half…ProtoCAM, Ryan, and the team really put me ahead, expedited my project, and got it to me ahead of schedule,” Alintoff recalls. ProtoCAM’s finishing specialists utilized our advanced finishing tools to create a unique brushed-nickel finish to the showcase-ready, stereolithography-created Sink Spinner, which was exactly what Alintoff was looking for.
“The whole ProtoCAM team, from Faye in the front of the house with the ordering, finalizing, and shipping, to everyone in the back with Ryan and the finishing team—it was just a really easy and smooth process. It was great,” Alintoff says.
A Product for Anyone and Everyone
As it includes an adapter that helps the Sink Spinner attach to almost every faucet, Alintoff says that anyone can and should be a customer of his product, citing its functions in multiple industries and settings, like washing away dye from salon hair-washing basins. “There are just so many reasons and so many industries that can use the technology,” Alintoff says. He also says parents of multiple children are likely to be a primary benefactor of the Sink Spinner, as his initial experience with his own child and a toothpaste-filled sink inspired the product.
As for the future, Alintoff has many ideas for customization options for the Sink Spinner, and also further evolutions of the product to make it as useful for customers as possible. With 3D printing, all of Alintoff’s ideas are possible. “All the different features we want to add to the evolutions of our project are all going be done with a 3D printer,” says Alintoff. “We love the 3D printer. It’s a game changer in every way.”
With the help of additive manufacturing and 3D printing, Alintoff’s project was brought to life. A project that may have taken hundreds of thousands of dollars and innumerable years a few decades ago can now be done in a few years or even months with the evolution of this technology. People like Alintoff are saving the world—and our precious minutes—one sink at a time, thanks to the power of 3D printing. “It’s just changed everything,” Alintoff says.
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