It’s Time to Vote on The Drive’s Best Ford Maverick 3D-Printed Accessory

Your choices are either a heated/cooled cupholder or a combination dash cubby slot with a MagSafe phone charger.

byPeter Holderith, Rob StumpfJul 14, 2022 10:00 AM
It’s Time to Vote on The Drive’s Best Ford Maverick 3D-Printed Accessory
Peter Holderith/Rob Stumpf
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Well, the Ford Mavericks have left us, which wraps up the main portion of our very fun 3D print-off. As promised, it’s now time to pick a winner. Rob and I had very different methodologies in terms of what we were trying to achieve, and we’ve decided to pick our favorites from what we’ve built. But you, our readers, will get to vote on the final products and decide who printed the best accessory.

Keep in mind that voting won’t just be judging which item is more impressive. Rob and I are picking our favorites, but we’re also doing so based on what we think would be most useful for a Maverick owner. True, some of the things we made might look cooler or could have been improved with a bit more development, but this is really about the core ideas.

[This is The Drive's Great Ford Maverick 3D Print-Off. Peter Holderith and Rob Stumpf are in a competition to see who can 3D print the best accessory for the truck. We'll announce a winner in mid-July, but for now, follow along with their progress on The Drive's Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook accounts with #maverick3dprintoff. Happy printing!] 

Voting will take place across our social media platforms, and you’ll get to decide between a heated/cooled cupholder or a combination dash cubby slot with a MagSafe phone charger. Read on, though, to get some final updates on our projects and some insight as to why we’ve selected the nominees that we did.

But First, One Last Project

Before Rob and I submit our nominations for the winner of this contest, though, I wanted to give you a quick update. I teased my FITS-mounted winter glove drier in our last post, and now it’s all done. It’s pretty simple, sure, but I’ll toot my own horn and say it has a few pretty clever features that make it work to its full potential.

The first thing you need to know is that the new fan I made for the duct booster works great, despite my scant knowledge of fan design. It’s quieter and more effective than the stamped metal unit it replaces. 

Everything besides the actual base of the machine also came out better than expected. The base adapts the duct booster to the four little hollow “hands” that hold the gloves. It printed pretty poorly but it’s functional, and the key feature I added to both the hands and the base works. 

In a nutshell, the bottom of the hands and the top of the base have a pattern cut in them that allows airflow to be shut off to any of the hands depending on how many gloves you want to dry. If you only have one pair of gloves, for instance, two of the hands can be rotated 90 degrees, which ensures all of the airflow available goes through the gloves, and not out of the hands that aren’t being used. Therefore, any number of gloves up to four can be dried.

The drier itself operates from a 120-volt outlet, so you’ll need an inverter to use it if your Maverick isn’t equipped with an outlet (mine wasn’t). The particular duct boost I used for this application also has adjustable speed, which is a nice feature even if it's unnecessary. 

Peter’s Choice

For my nomination, I decided to go with my heated/cooled cupholder as the item I think would be most practical for a Maverick owner. I chose this object because it represents a balance between complexity, utility, and frequency of use. 

Think of it this way: My other devices were the glove drier, the underseat cooler, and the solar heat extractor. The glove drier is pretty simple and useful, but it’s pretty much a seasonal accessory that may not get frequent use, even during the winter. Likewise, the solar heat extractor would only get seasonal use in some parts of the country. Also, while it would likely be used often, it requires additional setup, and its true effectiveness versus natural convection—even with improvements—is questionable. 

The cooler has a lot of utility, but it also needs a lot of other parts to make it work right and probably wouldn’t be used very often. I can imagine a set of seals and maybe some insulation is necessary to get it functioning to its full potential, and even then, it might only be used a few times during the summer. You gotta ask: How much better is it than a regular cooler thrown in the bed? You’d probably have to buy a bag of ice, but that’s really not much to ask. 

The cupholder, even as it sits, is a marked improvement over all of these devices in terms of usefulness. Cupholders are used very frequently and most things you put in them are better off being kept reasonably hot or reasonably cold. Likewise, the simple heat exchanger I devised to make it work in prototype form already has acceptable performance. Consider the fact that it can fit large vessels that don’t fit well in the Maverick’s existing cupholders and it’s an even bigger plus. Also, it requires no setup besides the initial installation.

An Aside on Peltiers

As a side note, a lot of people said I should’ve used a Peltier unit in order to make this cupholder work. For those who don’t know, a Peltier is a thin tile that’s basically a solid-state heat pump. Run a current through it and one side gets hot while the other gets cold. It seems like this would be a good solution to my problem, but once you get into actually developing a heated/cooled cupholder that would use one or more Peltiers, it all comes apart pretty quickly.

The big problem is that Peltiers are inefficient when it comes to cooling; less efficient than a conventional compressor-based air conditioning system. Making one side of a Peltier one degree cooler makes the other side much more than one degree hotter, basically. They work, don’t get me wrong, but you still have to dispose of that waste heat. A lot of waste heat. 

You really need a liquid cooling loop like the one I installed in the Maverick in order to remove this heat effectively. Even once you have a liquid heat exchanger working, though, the easiest and most effective way to neutralize this waste heat is… by using the car’s air conditioning. I think you can see where this is going. You would basically end up with something that looks a lot like what I made, except with another level of complexity.

Yes, you could vent the waste heat out the window or something and avoid a liquid loop altogether, but then you would need a few feet of ducting that would require setup and disturb the passengers. Also, if you want actual cooling performance, just using ambient air to cool a Peltier doesn’t work for very long or very well in the context of human comfort. Keep in mind the hot side of these things can reach hundreds of degrees. At that point, you risk melting stuff.

Had we done this entire exercise with a Peltier, we would have achieved little but increase complexity and introduce a factor of danger—all to chase a gain that, for practical purposes, wouldn’t exist. I know this might seem like I’m getting into the weeds a little bit, but enough people commented saying I should use one that I figured it was good to address it. 

Rob Has Some Project Updates, Too

With the Mavericks finally going back to their respective homes this week, I thought it would be proper to have a little fun with some accessories.

First up are two items that you readers asked for and I’ve been dying to actually make.

The star of the show is a six-piece nugget holder. It’s capable of holding six individual nuggets and a cup of your favorite dipping sauce. Perfect for your on-the-go lifestyle, right? I never thought I’d be using calipers to measure chicken nuggets, but here we are. And in case you are wondering why there are only five nuggets here, my sneaky dog decided that she deserved one.

There is also a taco holder for no other reason than one of you asked for it. And you know what? It actually made sense after I used it. Tacos can be messy, and having a small place to rest the meat-filled masterpieces is actually pretty convenient, especially with a built-in drip tray to catch the lettuce and cheese that will inevitably fall out. You can even wrap the wrapper around the printed part to prevent contamination and easily clean up after you eat.

Now, I enjoy getting out and about in the dark. But there’s that pesky problem of human eyeballs not being designed to work that well without the sun (or lightbulbs) shining down over the earth. So let there be light.

Rivian actually did the built-in flashlight holder right in the R1T, and I was inspired by how casually awesome that tiny accessory is to make something equally useful for night owls. I designed this accessory to hold a 25mm flashlight and a spare 18650 battery, which just so happens to be the size for my 1,100-lumen everyday carry light.

I also enjoy going out on night hikes and that usually involves breaking out my helmet-mounted night vision. The FITS slot placement doesn’t exactly fit brain buckets well, so I instead decided to make an accessory capable of holding a Wilcox-compatible dovetail mount. This allows a PVS-14 J-arm (mine is also 3D printed, in case you were wondering) to be slid in and the unit itself held close to the user and quickly accessed to peek around without sliding a helmet on (because—and let’s be real—Ford probably wouldn’t like me driving this Maverick around with only night vision).

And it wouldn’t be a complete update without more FITS slot locations. I added two additional locations that I felt deserve a bit of love from Ford’s versatile mounting system.

First is a clip for the visor. I actually built this towards the beginning of our challenge and envisioned it as a place for your garage door opener, but really struggled to find a use other than that. Regardless, someone may have use for it, so I still wanted to share.

More useful is the door-mounted slot, which uses existing hardware on the nubby door handle. I found that mounting simple grab-and-go accessories here was ideal, like the flashlight holder I designed above. It does take up seat space, and that’s already quite limited in the Maverick, so keep that in mind when mounting accessories.

There are also two locations that I didn’t build a FITS slot for, but really think they could be useful.

First was the rear-view mirror. I felt like this would be a great location for one, considering the number of accessories that people like to mount on their windshields. One, in particular, is a radar detector—it’s big, clunky, and often has to be mounted up high. The FITS slot could make it so the unit is nearly flush with the mirror and really reduce the space it takes up in a location where real estate is fairly valuable.

Second, the footwell of the back seat. I’m a huge proponent of passenger-facing slots for this challenge, and—I’ve said this before—I think not putting more in the cabin was really a miss for Ford. This would be easy placement, as it would essentially be a male-to-female FITS adapter that bridged from the slot inside of the under-seat compartment to the outside.

Rob’s Pick

Before nominating my pick for the winner of this contest, I want to recap the 17 accessories I designed and printed.

First, there are the five alternative mounting locations: the dash cubby, passenger-side dashboard, door handle, seat headrest, and sun visor. All of these expand the FITS slots to other locations in the cabin that were previously left out.

Next are some useful items that families could use on their road trips. Hand sanitizer dispenser, a wire cleat for loose charging cables, and a general-purpose hook that can be used for just about anything. I suppose you can also add the nugget and taco holders here as well for messy school-aged eaters.

Don’t forget about the power inverter, either. That’s particularly useful for anyone that might be working on the go that also has the base-trim truck without the built-in 120-volt adapter. Speaking of working, there is also a charging bundle for a Ryobi power tool battery. This can be adapted to any brand tool with a little bit of work.

For you tacticool people, the flashlight holder, night vision slot, or MOLLE panels would probably be an ideal addition.

There was also that gyroscopic water bowl I designed. Reflecting back, I really feel that was more of a solution seeking a problem because a regular ol’ water bowl would have worked just fine. But, hey, engineering.

Sadly, there can only be one accessory I will nominate as my personal favorite for you, the readers, to vote on. On that front, I want to present my pick, which is actually a combination of two accessories that were most useful to me: the dash cubby slot and the MagSafe charger.

These two items were my most used accessories while daily driving the Maverick, and they worked flawlessly. Not only could I charge my phone wirelessly, but it also doubled as a convenient holder for my phone that didn’t look overly bulky or cost a fortune like some mounts on the market. When not in use, the dash cubby added that additional FITS slot that virtually any other accessory could be mounted to. I really can’t stress my ask for Ford to consider a front-and-center FITS slot for the Maverick (or any of its DIY-based vehicles, really) next time around.

So, there you have it. A heated/cooled cupholder from Peter or a dash cubby slot/MagSafe phone charger from me. Check The Drive’s Twitter account and Facebook and Instagram stories for a chance to vote on the best accessory. Votes will be tallied sometime on Friday, which is when we’ll announce the winner. May the best invention win!

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