3D printing a custom Pixie Stamp as a cleaning service | Homeer

3D printing a custom Pixie Stamp as a cleaning service

Residential Cleaning

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Homeer is a small Lubbock, Texas, and Midland, Texas cleaning company. Because of that, we are constantly finding ways to improve and stand out from the crowded field of home cleaning and commercial cleaning companies.

The average city with over 100,000 in population will have over 15 cleaning companies. With so many local cleaning companies standing out can seem like a large task, but it is actually quite easy when you have a team like the one at Homeer.

Every Monday my team and I have a group meeting discussing our wins and losses of the previous week to determine if there is anything we could have done better and if we can provide assistance in any way. While in this meeting everyone pitches at least one "idea to kick it up a notch". They don't have to be huge ideas, but this short five minute period is where some of the coolest innovations at Homeer have come from.

Here you can see the current list of ideas that we have running and need to make a decision on soon!

All of these ideas weren't pitched by one team member either! That is just the shortlist of the many things we've discussed in the last six months. The ones we haven't made a final decision on. The ones that have an incredible amount of potential, but also ones that require Homeer to reach a level that we haven't yet achieved.

So, what has come out of the idea pitching sessions this time?

In this sprint, we're building a Homeer Pixie stamp that our team members can use for their home cleanings.

Evelyn was very excited to share this idea with the team.

You can see there wasn't much information added beyond the idea and that is all we need to discuss the topic as a team.

I've talked about it once or twice on our blog, but at Homeer we often use "sprints" which are focused periods of time where the entire team works on something together. We don't drag the decision-making process out through days or weeks. We condense an entire conversation and decision into just a few minutes so that we can all walk away knowing we've made the most logical decision without the possibility of an emotional analysis being involved.

The faster we make a logical decision on something the faster we can prevent any sentiment or attachment to an idea or way of thinking. That's a way of living that I believe personally and I had no intention of creating a workflow in Homeer that builds off this idea. But, with happy team members comes honest feedback, and with honest feedback comes the ability to make improvements you never thought possible. So, here we are.

Before we move any further if you're not sure what a toilet paper stamp looks like let me show you an example.

You can see there's no color to the stamp on the toilet paper and you immediately know the toilet paper has been taken care of before your use.

As soon as I saw this I was hooked. That's something you only see in houses with granite pillars or very fancy hotels. But, what's stopping Homeer from offering that to our home cleaning services? Our goal during the home cleanings is to make our clients feel like Queens and Kings and this is a wonderful way to help do that!

The decision we would make was obvious. It was going to be a definite yes to add that to our arsenal. But, would it be easy? Would it be affordable?

The research phase began...

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    Finding that using toilet paper stamp is already very popular with certain home cleaning services

    The thing is though, the research was proving to be very hard.

    I couldn't find many results regardless of the way I phrased my search for a water toilet paper stamp to use at home cleanings. Searching for "toilet paper stamp" resulted in a lot of the same result and that was a result I didn't want to see. I didn't want to see it because it was the same article spread across multiple websites. It was literally the exact same information repeated over and over with countless cleaning companies stealing from one another.

    Regardless of the duplicate information, I did find the answers I was looking for. A single cleaning company coined the term 'Pixie Stamp' back in 2017 and then they went on to share it with their audience in 2018.

    Not all stamps had a lot of thought devoted to the design though.

    This resulted in toilet paper stamps largely being known as a "Pixie Stamp" as it was created by Pixie Dust Cleaning Services. This type of "stamp" doesn't use any ink and relies on water to do the sticking/holding down.

    It's a simple process...

    1. Just dip the stamp in water.

    2. Hold it to the roll of toilet paper for a few seconds

    It's really that simple to add just a unique mark after a cleaning.

    Sure applying it's easy, but is it just as easy to make a custom Pixie stamp? Not at all.

    The thing is, not everyone has time to go through all of this effort and if you're cleaning your own home this is probably the last thing you would ever consider doing. This is precisely why trusting a professional residential cleaning service for your house cleaning needs is a wonderful decision. We can focus on and offer things you never would've had access to. Plus, it's not like this detail comes at an additional charge.

    The standard procedure to start using Pixie Stamps is to go to your local craft store and buy a few generic stamps. But to be honest, that's not only lazy but also looks extremely childish.

    This begs the question of can we even get custom stamps made online? Well shockingly yes, but it's quite difficult to find one that has a good form-factor that can also hold a professional-looking design...

    We could get really fancy with our stamps and put the first letter of our clients' last name.

    Because there are no inks or colors you could of course go crazy with the design. But, Homeer isn't here to be the crazy cleaning company. We are here to offer the highest quality cleaning services possible.

    Since they won't ruin anything or leave anything behind, Pixie Stamps can be used rather freely. But in my opinion, this is the type of thing where less is more. The less a cleaning company uses their Pixie Stamp the more weight it carries.

    So, if you go browsing after reading this post and see all these ideas of using Pixie Stamps on your paper towels, wasting multiple sheets to be fancy, or ink covering your toilet paper rolls, you aren't crazy for thinking that's too much.

    That's not our goal and that's why we need a custom stamp with just our logo and a seal to hold down the triangle that we fold into the toilet paper.

    I had more information, but I still wasn't sure how I could get one created. I didn't want to get a normal stamp because that would mean I would need to replace them soon. I didn't really want to buy custom stamps in the first place because that means paying for a custom mold. But, I also didn't want to devote all of this time and effort only to end up using stamps that anyone can buy at the store.

    The purpose of these stamps is for our clients to know that not only was their bathroom cleaned, but that our team members went above and beyond to make sure your house cleaning is done to perfection. So they should be fairly nice, right?

    What can we do about that?

    I wasn't sure, but I told my team that we should move forward with this idea. Immediately handing this idea to Evelyn she was now in charge and I didn't expect myself to make any decision or progress in this area. I was horribly mistaken.

    The 3D printer was screaming to be used!

    Realizing the solution to create a Homeer Pixie Stamp was staring me in the face

    I left work late this night so I immediately went to lay down in bed. But when I did my 3D printer was staring me in the face.

    The sudden realization hit me! I knew I could just 3D print the coolest Pixie Stamp possible in a matter of hours for essentially free.

    At this time I still hadn't learned how to use my 3D Printer. The bigger issue though was I had no idea how to even model something to print. I mean, I did drop out of college to follow my passion and grow my cleaning business so I hadn't ever been exposed to this type of stuff before. Somehow, this is the first time I've not known something due to dropping out of college but I wasn't going to let that stop me.

    Knowing nothing I went to Google and found my answer rather quickly. I stumbled into Fusion 360 and immediately realized I was way out of my comfort zone. But, that's not a reason to stop either is it?

    I got to learning. Having over 10 years of programming experience at this time I have acquired the ability to infer the function of software almost immediately. If a piece of software can do something that I need, I rarely encounter the issue of not being able to find it. In just 10 minutes I had the first prototype for our Pixie Stamp designed.

    You can see it's nothing super fancy. I just need to make sure I was capable of doing this in the first place.

    With it designed I was now ready to print it and let me tell you...

    I have basically no idea what I'm doing when it comes to printing. So, again diving into the research I got the basic settings running and I started the print!

    It didn't come out perfect, but I was over the moon. Just with the assistance of a 3D Printer and a little determination, I was able to save Homeer thousands of dollars in our lifetime while also gaining much more flexibility with the stamp design.

    Let's look at how it came out...

    You could say the first version of my home cleaning toilet paper stamp came out a little rough around the edges.

    This wasn't a complete failure. Really, this wasn't much of a failure at all.

    I was just thinking of the stamp in the wrong way. On the first prototype, you can see that I've recessed the logo into the stamp in hopes that we would have a solid circle pressed in with just our logo sticking up.

    When testing with the toilet paper it didn't come out great. More importantly, it just didn't feel right. Rarely do you see a first attempt go perfectly and it appears that rule still applies to me today... Instead of giving up, I did the next thing anyone that shares my level of passion would do. I went back to the idea board.

    Extending the idea of constant optimization beyond Homeer cleaning services

    Now knowing that a recessed logo wouldn't work I needed to test if it would work when it's extended. Closer to the standard design of a stamp while also decreasing the overall area that is impacted by our stamp I was pretty confident this design direction was better. Ideally, our mark is only left on the one piece of toilet paper we've folded into a triangle instead of multiple sheets being covered in water and having the stamp.

    With that idea I also wanted to test a smaller profile for two reasons:

    1. Lower the amount of plastic used to print this.

    2. Make it easier to keep in the supply kit of our professional cleaners.

    In the end, both of these early reasons would be abandoned, and for good reason. But, still operating for those reasons I would go on to design version two of the Homeer toilet paper stamp.

    You can see that this Pixie Stamp is far smaller in height and diameter.

    For this design, I had to learn how to make slopes so that this stamp can fit better in the hands of my team members. Of course, that's not a requirement, but that was a personal desire of mine so I made it a focus for this version of the Homeer Pixie Stamp.

    There's one major flaw with this design though and this issue would go on to call for an entire re-design of the stamp I had just built.

    The print quality was fine but can you see the flaw in design I'm talking about?

    Don't worry, it can be difficult to notice. I had print our logo in the proper orientation. This meant when I would flip the stamp over 180 degrees the logo would be backward.

    The first time I tested this stamp on a roll of toilet paper my brain hurt as I stared at the result trying to figure out what looked so wrong. The quality of the stamp was good, but it was mirrored.

    Sure the logo was going in the wrong direction, but overall the quality was much better and was giving me the exact results I was hoping for. I got it way too wet so the water sprinkled on other sheets but with a revised usage of the stamp it was fully functional and giving the precise results we were shooting for in the beginning.

    It was also at this time that I decided to leave behind both excuses I had made previously to keep the stamp profile small. Using the small stamp was much more awkward in my hand than even the original prototype so I knew the comfort factor was more determined by the length of the stamp and not the curvature. Plus, the cost is still lower when making longer stamps than it would be to continually design and create rubber stamps that have to be replaced in a few months due to use and the exposure to the team members' supply kits.

    I was ready for yet another variation of the stamp! I was getting close to having the finished product, but I was going to focus on the overall image this time:

    • The way it fits in the hand

    • The length of the stamp

    • A way to make sure the logo is oriented in the proper directions

    • Mirror the logo so that it is in the proper direction when it's stamped

    • Choose a form-factor that can easily fit in the supply kit of Homeer home cleaners

    It's not a super long list, but these requirements did combine everything I had learned through the previous versions. I took to a piece of paper and started scratching down the ideas I had. I went through a few different design possibilities rather quickly and the key aspect of making a decision was going to be determined by the ease with which I could print the stamp. At this point I had figured out the logo aspect, I just needed to figure out the part you hold.

    Not many ideas stuck, but these few minutes of sketching did lead me to the idea that would become the final result.

    Now with a clear image of everything I needed and wanted I was able to head into the software and begin modeling the stamp. It wasn't super easy though.

    First of all the tallest thing I had ever printed before this was 10 millimeters tall. Now, I was designing something that needed to be about 75mm (the width of my hand) and that's quite a drastic increase. Also in this update of the stamp, I wanted to add some quality of life things that would make it easier for our team members to hold while using. Keeping it simple I added lips to the top and bottom of the stamp in hopes that no one's hand slips off while using the stamp.

    I was beginning to push the border of what I knew how to do.

    But, if you look closely at the gif above you can see that area highlighted red. This is the software telling me that my printer will have issues with this area (I think).

    Printing a single stamp was going to take over two hours and I didn't want to get to the last 95% just so that it could fail...

    That would not only be a massive mess of plastic spaghetti that I have to clean up, but I just didn't want to entertain the idea of another revision being needed.

    I didn't even want to risk it.

    I tried so many variations. I tried adding small slopes. I tried adding a curve. Everything I tried looked weirder than the one before it and I was beginning to question the return in quality I was even going to receive from these lips.

    So I scratched the top lip. It wasn't going to be possible to include one so I just rage-deleted the lip while accepting that I may find a better solution before reaching the final revision.

    At this point, it was 4 a.m. and I had just spent all night on what I expected to be a very little project. But that's the beauty of Homeer. We are a group of people that want to do things differently and the experience of designing and building a stamp in-house is the perfect representation of the attention we put into every single thing we do and offer. This isn't a one-off experience where I chose to invest an inordinate amount of time to reach the highest level of quality possible. This way of thinking and operating is an everyday thing at Homeer. Ask any home cleaning client of Homeer if they've seen a lot of improvements as we've grown and evolved. You will hear a resounding echo of yeses.

    With just a few basic modifications like making the logo perfectly centered, thinning the top-level line, and a few more details the stamp was reaching a state I was happy with and proud of.

    After all the final revisions I was sure I had just created Homeer the best Pixie Stamp we could have received.

    Finally, it was time to 3D print the final version of our Pixie Stamp. This print was still going to take 2 hours, but I was incredibly confident the quality of the print would be great and that my model design had no issues.

    My fingers were still crossed, but I had learned enough in these few short hours to know I had no reason to be nervous. The worst that could happen was my print was going to fail and keep me up all night. That's not so bad, is it?

    Having used red plastic up to this point I was ready to swap out my prototyping plastic and roll in our production plastic! With just a tad-bit higher quality and being black, I can rest assured knowing these stamps have the potential to last years in the supply kits of our team members. The last thing I had to do was warm up the plastic and make sure the print-bed was level.

    With all of that done it was time to start printing.

    I love watching the nozzle spit the plastic out. It would look so weird in reverse.

    The print started and all I could do was wait for it to finish. It was the longest two hours of my life, but what came out was incredible.

    Not only had I saved an incredible amount of money, but I had also designed and printed this much faster than I could have ordered it online and received it. The future is among us and the fact that we are a cleaning service that uses 3D printing for everyday tasks speaks volumes about that.

    Plus, we now can create seasonal stamps as well as we can ever offer custom designs! The chains have been taken off small local businesses with the help of 3D printing and it is really cool to know we are one of the first local cleaning services in the world that uses 3D printing.

    On top of that, if we do ever have a team member that breaks their stamp, that's okay because it can easily be replaced.

    The final result is pretty stunning if I do say so myself.

    Finally, with the result solid it was time to print a stamp for every team member plus a few extras. It took some time, overall 108 hours of printing with another 12 hours of modeling. That can seem like a lot of time, but now we never have to worry about this issue again.

    In just a matter of one workweek, we were able to find a suggestion as a team, find a solution, build a solution, and have it in the hands of our team members. Do you know many other businesses that can do that? Even more importantly, do you know any other cleaning business that can do that? The odds are so incredibly low.

    At Homeer we often talk about our dreams and the goals we have to spread our mission further than the eye can see. But often we get asked "How is it even possible that you could open that many locations with that many team members and services?" to which I always answer "I will trust in my team." When you have an amazing team that is honest and that provides real feedback you and your business can achieve things you never even dreamed of.

    In 2021 opportunities like this are only becoming more common and as we usher automation into the cleaning industry we are confident we can maintain the ability to deliver incredibly high-quality cleaning by truly amazing cleaners.

    It's a rather simple system...

    At Homeer we don't claim to have the best or most profitable business model, but we do claim to have a business model that allows every single team member to flourish and reach heights previously unobtainable.

    Just like that, our home cleaning team members now carry a custom Homeer Pixie Stamp with them at all times.

    At this point, we've gone through the entire journey of creating custom in-house pixie stamps from start-to-finish. Thanks for reading!

    If you want to experience the service that Homeer can offer you can schedule your home cleaning online in under 60 seconds by heading to our online booking form or you can give us a call anytime at (432) 355-3171.

    Before this post ends I have an offer for all my fellow cleaning business owners. For any cleaning company that has less than 20 team members, I will add your logo and print these off for you as long as you cover shipping. All you have to do is head to the comments down below and comment that you're interested. Once I see you there, I will reach out and we can get to creating custom Pixie Stamps for your cleaning business.

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      Updated: 01/19/2021

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