All of Berrett Hill’s plastic components are made from our own custom designs on a 3D printer. Each piece is built up from tiny threads of plastic squirted from a heated nozzle in a robotic moving head adding layers to build up the part. A filament of PLA plastic is fed in precisely to put just enough everywhere it’s needed. The thread size we use is one fifth of a millimeter.
One downside of this process is that a tiny flaw can occur in a single piece amongst dozens all printed in the same batch. In essence quality control problems can be on a per-piece basis, and since we can’t destructively test every part from the printer, we do have a small but irritating failure rate. These are most common in small parts like the Touch Toggle covers, and the snap in legs of our Bases. In these parts a tiny gap in the plastic can cause a part to be weak and snap.
Like all of our products, we have a satisfaction warrantee. We will replace any part that fails, and even take them back if you just aren’t satisfied. Fortunately all of our plastic parts snap together, so replacement is easy with no tools required. Just let us know what broke and we’ll send the replacement!
It’s important to know that other than convenience in handling, none of our plastic parts are needed for safety or functional use, other than perhaps the holes in the face of our Touch Toggles used to frame the dots of light. A bit of scotch tape on a Toggle will keep it from contacting anything conductive and you can use it right away, at least until the replacement arrives.
Gluing PLA plastic
PLA is difficult to glue, since it stands up to almost all solvents. Acrylic solvents work, but the fumes are very nasty. To permanently mount or repair this material we use a commonly available adhesive called E-6000. One fellow described this product as “duck tape in a tube”. It is available in hardware stores and craft stores in 1 to 4 ounce tubes. It handles like old styrene cement but with less odor. When it dries, it is clear and feels like a very hard rubber. It bonds furiously to everything. It is almost as strong as the plastic, so a knife or razor should be used to slice it away if you need to disassemble an assembly. It’s what we recommend to attach Touch Toggles to our Toggle Cup fascia mounts.
The Plastic Itself
The plastic used in all of our products is PLA, which stands for poly-lactic-acid the basic stuff used to polymerize into plastic.
This base product is made from corn, so it is a really Green product. In fact it gets even better. PLA is not recyclable, at least at this time, but this turns out to be a good thing; perhaps a great thing:
Less than a year before it became plastic, most of the carbon in the plastic was carbon dioxide in the air. The corn caught and used this to build itself. Most corn will be eaten or decompose and the carbon stored in the carbon based molecules will be turned back into carbon dioxide within another year. This is true for all plants, they capture carbon while they grow and return almost all to the atmosphere when they die.
PLA is an exception! The carbon chains in the PLA will serve you for many years, and when it is finally put into a landfill it will hold that carbon out of the atmosphere and sequester it for many centuries. This is the ecological equivalent of putting coal back into the ground!
Finally, a low guilt plastic.