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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

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