3dBy now, almost everyone is aware of the amazing impact of 3D printing. There have been countless examples of the extraordinary power of these devices: from 3D printing a scale model of a human heart to pinpoint the problem, to 3D printing prosthetic limbs, to less serious use-cases like printing custom containers. The below example falls in the latter, less serious category, but is nonetheless a great example of what is possible.


Two North Liberty High School students, Tyler Richards (above left) and Jonathan Thompson (right), have solved one of the most annoying first world problems: the gross, watery first squeeze of ketchup from the bottle. As part of the national Project Lead The Way – “the nation’s leading science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) solution in over 5,000 schools across the U.S.”1 – program, Richards and Thompson were tasked with finding a solution to something that directly effects them. The students in the program were prompted with the phrase, “it really bugs me when.”2

Ketchup capAfter pouring through tons of patents and conducting a hefty amount of research, Richards and Thompson came up with 60 or so possible cap solutions. Eventually, the team decided on the design (left) they dubbed “the mushroom” or “the shroom.”3 Richards and Thompson were able to 3D print “the shroom” using the classes printer. The design is based on the Pythagorean cup, and reduces 100% of the watery ketchup discharge.4

While this is not necessarily a life-changing breakthrough, it shows the flexibility of 3D printers. Two students were able to brainstorm and come up with a brand new product. Rather than going through all the various production channels and hiring a team to prototype their designs, Richards and Thompson were able to print the device themselves.

Here is a video of Richards and Thompson explaining their product, and how they came up with the idea:

  1. Project Lead The Way, “About Us”  
  2. Lindsey Foat, KCPT, “Students solve old problem with new ketchup cap,” 11 April 2014.  
  3. Ibid  
  4. Ibid