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Hoover and MakerBot offer 3D-printed vacuum upgrades

Owners of Hoover's new cordless uprights will find printable accessories on MakerBot's Thingiverse website.

Colin West McDonald/CNET

Aside from the usual mix of attachments, Hoover Air cordless vacuums now come with something else, too: accessories you can 3D-print on demand.

Those accessories come by way of a collaboration between Hoover and MakerBot, one of the leading names in desktop 3D-printing. As such, you'll find the designs listed on MakerBot's "Thingiverse" website, the Web's largest database of 3D-printable digital designs.


The pilot program designs are already live on Thingiverse, and include two upgrades for the US-only Hoover Air. The first is a clip-on attachment that'll hold the spare battery in place right on the body of the vacuum. The second is a flashlight holder for the wand that'll let you see what you're doing as you clean behind the sofa.

Hoover tells us that the collaboration is designed to serve narrow consumer needs -- good ideas that don't justify full-scale production.

"3D printing allows us to be more nimble and respond to consumer accessory and customization needs quicker than typical manufacturing processes might allow," says Paul Bagwell, Hoover's Vice President of Product Development.


This spring, Hoover plans to release additional designs to coincide with the launch of the Hoover Air Lift, the company's next cordless upright. While the pilot program is currently only available to accessorize US-only Hoover Air vacs, the program could conceivably be extended to a wide range of Hoovers in the future.

The collaboration with Hoover isn't the first time we've seen MakerBot get involved with home appliances. Earlier in 2014, the 3D-printing company paired with GE and Local Motors to help launch FirstBuild, a small-batch manufacturing facility in Louisville, Ky. That collaboration has helped spur the development of high concept appliances like the barcode-scanning LineCook oven , as well as the $20 , which offers a cheap, DIY approach to the smart home.