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7. SNOW REMOVAL BUSINESS NOT “JUST PUSHING SNOW AROUND” – Tim Terry introduces the Choreguys, who are fast-becoming a foil to New Brunswick’s wicked winters READY OR NOT: HERE COMES OLD MAN WINTER –Kenneth E. Seaton offers practical tips on protecting your car against the colder elements THE IMPORTANCE OF INDUSTRY INVOLVEMENT – The Automotive Sector of NS reaches out to youth considering careers in the motive fields with some sweet programming THE TRIALS AND TRIBULATIONS OF BEING A SNOW PLOW OPERATOR – in which contributor Jay LaRue looks at winter from the plow operator’s POV and offers insights that may surprise you THE ATLANTIC ROAD REPORT – Final Section of the four-lane Trans-Canada highway finally opens up in NB CARWASHING IN WINTER – Jay LaRue returns and offers his take on the mighty carwash…including the use of recycled water NEWS OF THE WEIRD – Introducing….the poopmobile! ‘Nuff said! DASHBOARD CONFESSIONAL – Carter Hammett on how 3D Printing stands poised to alter Canadian car manufacturing MCNEILL’S A FINE EXAMPLE FOR ALL OF US – There’s a very good reason why Roy and Beth McNeill won this year’s Auto Care Association award: They deserved it. DO YOU CREATE “ACTIVITY” OR “PRODUCTIVITY?” Bob Greenwood asks if your shop is in the management or commodity business in this enlightening discussion PREPARING VEHICLES AND FLEETS FOR WINTER CONDITIONS – More winter management tips from CARS OnDemand HICKEN HEADLINES POST SEASON RESULTS IN MARITIMES – Tim Terry looks back on the Fall season that was in Atlantic racing WHY GREAT IDEAS ARE NOT ALWAYS GREAT OPPORTUNITIES- Thomas Edison’s talking….doll??? WIN BIG! A 1:50 scale die-cast dump truck from Atlantic Cat, or a NAPA 126 piece tool set in our 2 BIG contests!!
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Letter from the Editor
A CHANGE OF SEASON
T’S THE TIME OF YEAR AGAIN WHERE WE EXCHANGE FLIP FLOPS FOR WINTER BOOTS AND SUNGLASSES FOR PARKAS.
I’m always reminded of an anecdote shared by my friend Helen, who as a young novice transplanted Ontario teacher experienced her first maritime winter. Awake with the anticipation of a small child she flung open her front door only to come face-to-face with a wall of snow that covered her entire door! Unsure of what to do, she turned on the radio to hear an advisory that all of Halifax was essentially shut down except for essential services. Dutifully, she called the school and asked a very important question: “Is grammar considered an essential service?” I always grin when thinking of this story because I know how unpredictable Atlantic weather can be. When fall comes, we brace ourselves against the possibility of hurricane-like winds and follow that with the uncertainty of winter
By Carter Hammett
weather that can change on a dime. One moment it can be breathtakingly beautiful, the next, deadly and savage. That’s why it’s so important for us to turn our lens “white-ward” this issue as we examine some of the big issues that follow us around during this change of season. The business of snow plowing and the safe streets they create is so important to Atlantic Canadians we offer two stories on the subject this issue. Contributor Jay LaRue shares some of his thoughts on the trials and tribulations of being a snow plow operator. Whether it’s dealing with parked cars or debris on the streets, he discusses some insights that many of us might not have thought about before. Our cover story meanwhile, focuses on the business of snow removal and profiles two brothers who have been in the business a long time. Tim Terry parks his race cars and turns his sites on snow removal and a New Brunswick business,
Choreguys, that’s become a core part of Moncton, NB, from where they operate. This is one business that chooses to “stay local” and focus on not only protecting their brand, but also keeping their customers happy. When you think of what passes for “customer service”—and I use that term loosely—you will be moved by the commitment Choreguys bring to their service. Not to be outdone, Kenneth E. Seaton’s back with pragmatic tips on managing your vehicle this winter. From windshield wipers, to radiators to brakes, Ken’s got you covered, including a special section on winter tires. Of course, we had to include a few other stories outside of winter as well, and one of these is about the next stage of evolution in the Canadian automotive sector: 3D Printing, which has been gaining momentum on several fronts lately and just might help keep at least some of our future production at home, where it belongs. That said, it’s been a wonderful year with some great stories that we hope you’ve enjoyed. We want to take a moment to thank all of our contributors and advertisers for all their contributions over the past 365 days and look forward to collaborating with you again. Most of all though, we want to thank our readers, who offer insight, terrific feedback and give us strength to keep on going. You may have noticed we have tried broadening our reach in recent months by including more items on trucking and trends, among others. It’s all part of our commitment to you and our goal of delivering a top notch product that meets all your driving needs, whether you’re a dealer or an enthusiast. Thanks for helping us grow! We wish you and yours the happiest of holidays and hope you’ll wave as we pass each other in the new year.
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SNOW REMOVAL BUSINESS NOT “JUST ABOUT PUSHING SNOW AROUND”
By Tim Terry
O JOB IS TOO BIG FOR ROSS AND DEEDEE MORTON, OWNEROPER ATORS OF NEW BRUNSWICK’S EVEREVOLVING CHOREGUYS SNOW REMOVAL SERVICE.
In our region, winter is something you can typically bank on. Some are worse than others, some are a bit tamer. By the time you pick up this issue of Auto and Trucking Atlantic, you’ve probably experienced the first major snowfall of the 2014-15 winter season. While seeing those flakes fly, you begin to plan: You plan to put your winter tires on your car, you plan to dig out your winter clothing for the cooler nights, you look at outings at the rink or out on the snow- covered trail instead of riding out in the mud or being at the baseball field. Planning and winter go hand-in-hand, something that Ross and DeeDee Morton know all too well. The Mortons operate ChoreGuys Snow Removal in Moncton New Brunswick’s northwest corner. They are a staple in that region when it comes to moving snow with over 700 customers in their corner of New Brunswick’s “Hubcity.” But their business didn’t grow overnight. “There’s a lot more to this business than pushing snow,” says Ross. “We are constantly learning, there are a number of challenges we face in this industry each year.” With a background in the automotive sec-
tor and after working within the snow removal industry, Ross Morton began with his own venture five years ago. Heading into their sixth season, their fleet has grown from one truck in that first year to eight tractors, five trucks and a crew of 14, including a walkway shoveller. While their crew has expanded, their area of coverage has stayed the same. One would think that in such a big city (the population of the Greater Moncton Area is over 138,000), more trucks pushing more snow for more clients would create a greater revenue. That’s not necessarily the case. While ChoreGuys tried subcontracting in the past, they found that it was taking away from their core business in the Hildegard area of the city. Ross points out to two driving factors why staying within one region is key for their business, including protecting their brand and the reliability of their service. Within their area, there is a high expectation for their quality of service. Spread yourself too thin with more jobs on each-and-every corner of the city, and it becomes more difficult to meet that expectation. After all, it’s all about making the client happy at the end of the day. The Hildegard area is a growing portion of the city, with new homes being added within the subdivisions throughout. The natural growth has also prevented ChoreGuys from expanding, because they are kept busy with their clientele in their own backyard. Sticking with the one area and staying tight to plows as they run through the streets has exponentially grown their business, but that exceptional service still comes with interest for their work outside their area. “We still get calls from those on the other side of the city, say from Riverview, or from the other side of the (Moncj a n u a r y 2015 n autoatlantic.com
ton) Coliseum, for example” says Ross. “We have friends in the business that we work with that we will refer those clients to. In return, if they pick up the phone from a potential customer here, they will let us know. It works both ways.” The cost of operating equipment and time management is another factor in the business. Running a piece of equipment across the city for one-or-two jobs, with the gas it takes, the operator’s salary and the time it takes to get that piece of equipment over and back (extra run time on the machine) can be costly when that equipment can be used in the local area. Put too much stress on a piece of machinery or the operator within it and it will also show on the bottom line at the end of the day. They do not want to under-manage a piece of equipment either to make it not productive, but also in turn do not want to overload it. Their high expectation bar in their work makes equipment management key, because you want your gear to handle the job it is given. The weather can also be a contributing factor. With the weather in Atlantic Canada, it can go from a dry spell with no precipitation, to a string of Nor’easters that can virtually cripple a city in an instant.
Freezing rain and ice pellets can also be a challenge to try and predict and, in turn, to plan for when it does happen. In December 2013, Moncton was hit with seven storms in a run of 10 days to kick off the winter season. While it was challenging to predict the weather, noting that the ground had not even froze over prior to the series of storms, it was also a challenge on the crew. A string like that can create long hours and be tiring on the crew with them being on the job from the first flake fallen to the last pass of each plow they shadow. In such cases, Ross will look at bringing in a relief crew while the other members of his team get some sleep. The goal is to not overload the crew, or the equipment, because improper management and planning does not have any benefit in the long run. On the other end of the season, the melt of all that snow in spring can be challenging. As quick as it came in during December, April 2014 saw the snow melt quickly over a two-week span, causing flooding in the city. This in turn, creates another hurdle in planning - snow management. Ross explains that piling snow in one place is not necessarily a good thing, for
a few reasons. “Piling snow in the wrong places can create a visibility issue, and in turn, a safety issue on the property, especially in high-traffic commercial areas. Blowing snow into a green, open space and not into one concentrated area allows the melting snow to soak into the ground during a melt as opposed to a pile where the melt makes it run off and potentially re-freeze when the temperature drops. It is also easier and more cost effective to blow a snow pile away as opposed to trucking the snow off the property when it adds up. You could spend four-or-five hours trucking the snow out, spending money on fuel to haul it across town along with wear-and-tear on trucks compared to blowing a pile down in half the time, or less.” ChoreGuys also keeps drains marked with blue pins, to keep the drains open and visible during the snow season and in turn, makes it easier for the melt in the spring for the water to run into. They also take their environmental impact into major consideration when planning a job. From their fleet of equipment having a lighter environmental footprint, whether it is through less fuel consumption or their machinery being Tier 3 + 4 emission-compliant, to using blowers on their tractors as opposed to plows to not damage property. This can also be brought back to not sub contracting and running across the city to take care of jobs. If you are running the machinery across town, you can be wasting extra fuel and in turn pushing out extra emissions into the environment. Their salt and de-icing materials and how effectively they are used is also monitored to help decrease the environmental impact. As a show that their salt management works, not only from an environmental standpoint but also a cost position, an apartment building in the region who was
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using ChoreGuys decided they would take care of their salt management after their driveway was cleared. At the end of the job, the building manager was spending twice as much in salt to do the job that ChoreGuys does. When it boils down to it, more planning, whether it is from the safety, environmental or management side, does not necessarily mean it is going to cost more and may also save you coin in the long run. Marketing can also go a long way, and the duo takes pride in the job they do. From standing by the phones and keeping in close communication with their clients, or even going to the door of older clients they have that relationship and visibility. That communication and client relationship is key, because in this business you are “only as good as your last storm.” In short, they go the extra mile to make the client happy and they make sure the client is always taken care of. They are also visible on many social media outlets, keeping up with the ever-changing technology on web platforms, including Facebook (@ChoreGuysNB), Twitter (@ChoreGuys) and on YouTube by searching Chore Guys. Their Youtube channel has examples of the ChoreGuys crew at work, while they are constantly updating their social media platforms with information on upcoming winter weather and is a great way to keep up on what is on the horizon. Their website is also a wealth of knowledge about their business, but is also easy to navigate and not too busy for the casual web surfer. You can check it out for yourself at ChoreGuys.ca. Ross and DeeDee also take pride in their crew. Their 14-person crew is loyal and they take pride in their work and have a sense of ownership. If they have a problem, they are urged to
bring it up with Ross and DeeDee before anything builds up. Both men believe having a “horizontal” relationship as opposed to a “vertical” with their crew, making them approachable if a situation does arise. In order to keep crew, with snow being a seasonal job in the Atlantic region, Ross mentions his crew gets paid a bit more than industry standard to keep them coming back each year. The training and education for the ChoreGuys crew is always ongoing. They are a member of the US-based Snow and Ice Management Association (SIMA), which promotes safety for both clients and crews. They continue to receive industry training and certification and take pride in their crews receiving their CSP, or Certified Snow Professional, titles. They cover many topics in their training, including, for example, with the recent salt shortage, there has been talk about how to attack salt and salt management going forward. As a residential client, you can rest assured your driveway will be blown out from the snow quickly and efficiently. With the ChoreGuys sticking to the Northwest corner of the city, they are able to follow the snow plow route and have a 15-minute guarantee to be at your driveway after the plow goes by. DeeDee also notes that Ross is a bit OCD when it comes to quality, and holds a high standard for his service, which you can expect after the ChoreGuys complete the job. Another tool available to both their growing commercial base and residential clients of ChoreGuys is the use of the Fleetmatics GPS system. Sure, the guarantee of being at your driveway 15 minutes after the plow drives by is great for a client sitting watching the snow in their driveway, but how can you really tell they are chasing the plows like they say they are? Well, each piece of equipment is equipped with a GPS tracking device, which clients can log onto the ChoreGuys website and see where they are currently operating. The software also comes with a replay function, where a replay of the route the tractor took is available. On the management side, Ross and DeeDee can easily track time spent with the GPS system. They have an electronic log for where each piece of equipment was and when. With geo-fencing, they can track how efficiently each property is taken care of. If two-or-three pieces of equipment are on the same commercial property, they can combine the time from when each piece crosses the geo-fence, and can add up the time and cost easier with the system, making sure their gear and time is each used efficiently. Should something also go wrong, they can track when their machinery was on the property and which operator was at the helm. Sure, the industry of pushing snow around only takes up half the season, but Ross stays busy throughout the summer months as well. After working in the year-round automotive industry, Ross has started lawn work and management throughout the summer. While he notes they are not up to full blown property management, they take care of small jobs like shrubbery and light landscaping. That is, in addition to preparing for the everevolving, ever- changing winters that Mother Nature can throw at Atlantic Canada. While the consumer sees the finished product in their driveway, they can rest assured that ChoreGuys are working around the clock, all year long, continually improving their service and product. Snow may only blanket the region for around six months a year, but the team at ChoreGuys is constantly planning for the next storm, making sure they are ready to serve those in the Hildegard area of the city. If you are looking to get the professional services of ChoreGuys working for you this winter, or are.looking for more information, log onto their website at ChoreGuys.ca, or give them a call at (506) 388-5308,
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READY OR NOT, HERE COMES OLD MAN WINTER!
By Kenneth E. Seaton
COMMON SENSE TIPS TO KEEP YOUR CAR RUNNING SMOOTHLY DURING THE “BIG FREEZE”
HERE’S NO DENYING THE EXISTENCE OF SEVERAL CONSTANTS THAT CAN BE DEPENDED ON IN LIFE; TAXES HAVE TO BE PAID, WHATEVER YOU’VE BOUGHT WILL BREAKDOWN SOON AFTER ITS WARRANTY EXPIRES AND THAT WINTER ALWAYS FOLLOWS FALL!
For some, this change of season is something to look forward to with anticipation and for others not so much. With the coming onslaught of winter we prepare ourselves by getting our boots and warmer clothing ready. We bustle about winterizing our homes and yet, sometimes we just give a cursory onceover to our vehicles. We take them to the garage to have snow tires put on, but what about the rest of the vehicle? While the weather is nice drivers tend to let vehicle maintenance slide and too often the check engine light is regarded as nighttime mood lighting. And yet, as anyone who has experienced a vehicle breakdown in the middle of a blizzard in -25° C temperatures can tell you, winterizing your vehicle is the only way to go.
With a few simple steps you can keep you and your car running trouble-free all winter long. Over the Hood Windshield wiper blades tend to last from six-to-eight months and are probably in need of replacement. Winter wiper blades are heavier than summer ones and have rubber covers that keep ice from accumulating on the blade. Also check your vehicle’s windshield-washer‘s spray nozzles. A pin or needle can be used to make sure that they are not plugged up with gunk. When using your wipers in winter it’s a good idea to turn them off before shutting off your engine. If the wiper blades become frozen to the windshield, you could burn out the windshield wiper motor trying to get them back into their rest position. Visually inspect your vehicle’s windshield, checking for cracks or chips in the glass. Doors and the trunk lid should be tested to insure that they close correctly and that they are properly sealed and keeping out the elements. Ensure that all your vehicle’s lights are operational, with no cracked lenses and especially check out your vehicle’s brake and flashing hazard lights. Turn on your rear-window defroster to ensure that it is in good working condition A must- check is your vehicle’s block heater. The cord connecting to the block heater tends to get easily damaged from daily wear-and-tear and should be in-
spected. Block heaters, if working correctly, will almost guarantee that your vehicle will start on those freezing mornings. Additionally, you will have the added bonus of instant heat to keep you warm and cozy. Investing in a an automatic timer to turn on the block heater two hours before you plan to drive off – the time needed to warm the coolant and the engine – should also save you money.
UNDER THE HOOD
Winter wiper blades won’t mean much if you can’t see through a frozen windshield so try the heaters and defrosters to make sure that they work properly. Also, don’t forget to fill up with a winter grade windshield washer fluid. On a snowy or sloppy day – as you try to keep your windshield clear – you can easily pump out half a gallon or more of washer fluids so always keep an extra jug in the trunk. Use an antifreeze tester to check the antifreeze in your radiator and flush it out if needed. Are your engine oil and the filters in good shape or do they need to be changed? Winter weight oil is recommended for vehicles being driven in a colder climate like the east coast. Be sure to check all wires, hoses and that assorted belts are tight and in good shape. Cold and wintery weather is harder on batteries so you need to ensure that your battery is in optimal condition. Verify that the water levels are fine and also check that the connections and battery posts are
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free of corrosion. If your battery is older than three years you should have it shop tested to make sure that it is still capable of holding a charge. Don’t forget to make sure that your brakes are in winter shape. They must be equalized so that there is no pulling of the vehicle to one side or the other. Since winter salt tends to be great for driving but is tough on vehicles, ensure that all brake parts are clean, lubricated and that there is nothing that could cause premature brake pad wear. Unless you are very experienced at this, this service is best left to the experts. This would also be a great time to have the exhaust system tested for carbon monoxide leaks. Investing a little cash and time at a certified repair shop and having things tested now should stop you from finding out that you have a problem later. Here are some friendly winter tire reminders: Bill Grey owner of OK Tire in Halifax recommends that drivers use winter tires, “Ice radial tires are best because they give much better traction in the type of sloppy icy weather that we have here in Atlantic Canada.” Tires that are marked with a pictograph of a peaked mountain with a snowflake have been designed as “snow tires” and will give you optimum winter driving performance. Always install four winter tires and never mix tires with different tread patterns or sizes. Look your winter tires over to insure that they haven’t worn down to the tread-wear indicators. And if you have one, take a look at the spare tire in your trunk to ensure that it is ready to roll. Numerous vehicle manufacturer owner’s manuals recommend operating winter tires several psi (typically 3-5) higher than their recommended pressures for summer and all-season tires. Be sure to frequently check your tire’s air pressure as cold weather will quickly decrease the pressure. Checking your tires pressures is best done when the tires are cold and are at the same temperature as the air outside. And for those drivers using studded tires, be sure to thoroughly assess your tires for stud wear-and-tear. If you are planning on installing new stuffed tires remember that they require a special break in period – be sure to check the manufacturer’s recommendations. Also, vehicles using studded tires are not to be driven at high speeds because high speeds can (result in excessive tire spinning) cause the studs to be ejected. Driving in winter weather conditions can be unpredictable and it places more stress and strain on your vehicle and can also prove challenging to your driving skills. As we prepare our vehicles for winter we also need to prepare ourselves for winter driving. In winter, drivers need to slow down more, be extra alert and to always try to be in control of their vehicles. And finally a great winter tip to remember is to always keep your gas tank at least half-full. This will lower the likelihood of moisture forming in your vehicle’s gas lines and possibly freezing. Here are some items to keep in your trunk. You know… just in-case! A practicable snow shovel, spare snow brush/ice scrapper, bag of sand or non-clumping kitty litter, booster cables, tow rope or chain, flashlight with spare batteries, road flares, small tool kit, fuel line antifreeze, emergency foodstuff provisions (bottled water, nonperishable energy foods, hard candies), candle with matches or lighter, a blanket, old pair of winter boots and extra hat and gloves, a car charger for your cell phone, first aid kit and any special medication that you may need in an emergency.
WHEN THE RUBBER HITS THE ROAD
JUNK IN YOUR TRUNK
3D PRINTING: THE NEXT NEW TOOL? WHILE IT’S A LITTLE TOO EARLY TO PREDICT WHICH DIRECTION THIS NEW
TECHNOLOGY WILL HEAD, ITS POSSIBILITIES—INCLUDING THOSE IN THE SHOP—SEEM MORE PLAUSIBLE IN THE NEAR FUTURE.
By James Somers
HREE DIMENSIONAL (3D) PRINTING IS THE NEXT STEP IN A MANUFACTURING REVOLUTION. SUDDENLY, THREE DIMENSIONAL OBJECTS CAN BE PRODUCED FROM A MACHINE ABOUT THE SAME SIZE AS A COMMON LASER PRINTER
This technology has been marketed as a new breakthrough even though it has been around since the 1980’s. In the current market, 3D printers are mimicking the same paradigm as computers in the late 1970 - home made kits that needed to be assembled (Altair) or large room-sized machines (IBM). There are a wide range of 3D printers currently available but costs and capabilities vary wildly. Right now the prices vary from the Makerbot 2 (Priced at $1999 US) to the Objet 30 Pro ($44,295.00) and beyond. These printers use very different technologies. Both of these use what is called “additive construction”. Called a “hobby” machine, the Makerbot uses a spool of plastic (filament) that is fed into a heated element that melts the plastic and then feeds it through an extruder. This extruder has a small opening where the semi liquid plastic is fed onto a platform. The extruder head is controlled by a computer and attached to a structure that allows it to be moved horizontally: back-to-front and left-to-right - the same way that you would draw on an Etch-a-Sketch. Once a single layer of plastic has been delivered, the platform with the plastic is lowered and another layer of plastic is made. These layers are built up until a 3D model is created. The layers produced are between .01-and-.003 of an inch. Some people have referred to this a
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computer-controlled glue gun. There are two different plastic types that are common to these printers. One is a hard plastic similar to the type of plastic that Lego blocks are made of. The second type is made from biodegradable starches, like corn, and is dissolvable under certain conditions. Small, independent start-up companies have started to produce filament that allows these printers to print with sandstone, nylon, and even wood. The other method uses a laser to catalyze a binder solution. This method is the Holy Grail of desktop manufacturing as they are incredibly accurate (the layers are the thickness of a human hair) but also can produce items in different materials - hard plastic, nylon, silicone and others. Right now there are more than a few companies on K ickstar ter trying to get these t y p e s
of printers ready for market but very few have made the jump into a mainstream market - in other words, you can’t just roll into Canadian Tire and walk out with one anytime soon. Both of these printers can create oneof-a-kind, intricate, and movable objects. These objects can then be “manufactured” in small quantities by printing out multiple copies in the same way a laser printer can act as a publisher by creating the original item several times. The more industrial machines work in much the same way but instead use powder and binder that can create objects made from metal and other materials. Instead of laying down a layer of plastic, the print head sprays a layer of glue (or
a binder) similar to the way a common inkjet printer works. This causes the metal powder to stick together. These constructs have the same structural integrity as a sandcastle on Cavendish Beach until they are heated to a point where the glue bakes away and the metal has bonded. While the future of 3D printing is unknown, there are some things we can predict. Currently, there is no magic printer out there that is a game changer like the Macintosh was when it was introduced in 1984 or even the iMac in 1998. Currently none of the big producers of traditional printers such as HP, Epson and Brother have announced any plans to expand into 3D printing, which means we can only speculate that they are waiting for proven technology to dominate at a competitive cost. However, the future of 3D printing for the service station may not come from any of the known printer manufacturers but from a source closer to home. Dremal has just released a 3D printer commercially. Who jumps in next could be very interesting. So the next big question is where do we get files to print? Well, there is a great source of 3D files to print (for free or for a small fee) – it’s called the Internet; you may have heard of it. Imagine going online and downloading a replacement for a broken dash switch. So what does this mean for the current automotive service station? Can we expect to see a 3D printer on the workbench next to the socket set? The answer is a definite maybe. There is the potential to produce replacement parts or custom parts right on the workbench and many early adopters are currently using 3D printers in the shop but the availability of these printers have not made them the common shop tool they could be. So the future of 3D printing is still finding a home, and as the accuracy and the range of materials grow, the next time you need a head gasket you may just print it.