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DCSD Bus Mechanic uses 3D printer for parts, saves thousands of dollars


It’s always good to have people that know things. Nick DeHaan really knows buses. He knows every part. What most people would call a defroster, DeHaan calls by its component parts - actuator rods, stepper motors, and diverter valves. This is all very important when a part goes wrong.

He noticed a lot of problems with the actuator arm. It kept snapping. This meant no defrosting on cold days, and cost over $400 and 8-10 hours of labor to fix. That’s time away from fixing other parts like engines, brakes, and tires.

Over 40 district buses are experiencing the issue right now. This was at least a $16,000 problem. He knew there must be a better way. So the turner of wrenches turned to his past.

“I started out in high school taking drafting classes,” recalls DeHaan. That’s where he learned AutoCAD - a drafting software. He used that knowledge to recreate the pesky part. With the help of Mark Blair in the I.T. department they printed a prototype on a 3D printer. Nick holding the printed part.

The part actually worked. “It’s a 30 minute job versus a 8 to 10 hour job to replace the whole HVAC assembly,” says DeHaan. “We’re saving upwards of $390 per bus just because of this part.”

With the district working on a tight budget, it’s good to know guys that know some things - guys like Nick DeHaan.


March 16, 2017 | By ccheline | Category: Transportation

District News

graduates standing in line outside, smiling

DOUGLAS COUNTY – Graduation rates in the Douglas County School District (DCSD) continue to climb. Data released today by the Colorado Department of Education (CDE) shows the on-time, four-year graduation rate is now 90.4 percent.

DCSD students also made an impressive showing at graduation. The class of 2017 earned more than $82 million in scholarships.

DCSD has one of the highest graduation rates in the Denver metro area. According to CDE, DCSD graduation rates have risen steadily from 81.9 percent in 2009 to 90.4 percent in 2017.

Five female students standing on stage smiling and laughing at the awards ceremony

The top two-percent of female athletes in Douglas County School District (DCSD) were honored at the annual Girls and Women in Sports Luncheon last week at Chaparral High School. This year represented the 30th national celebration of Girls and Women in Sports Day, created to encourage and promote the participation of girls in athletics. The girls who were honored were selected by their school’s coaches, athletic directors and principals for their outstanding achievements.

Superintendent Search text based logo

Working through the recent winter break, the Douglas County School District Board of Education has kicked off its search for DCSD’s next permanent superintendent. Following a thorough vetting of potential search firms, Ray & Associates (no relation to Board Director David Ray) has been hired to conduct the national search. The cost of the firm, excluding travel expenses, is $40,000. The money will come from the school board's budget, which is used for costs such as legal expenses and conferences.