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3D-printable kit that turns doorknobs into door levers without tools

doorknobs suck

Illustration of a person standing while holding a large package. They curse because the door in front of them has a doorknob.

Ever try to use a doorknob with your elbow? It’s difficult!

Door levers are more accessible than doorknobs for pretty much everyone. A simple fix is to install door levers in place of doorknobs. But what if you don’t have the tools to install a door lever? Or what if you don’t have the permission, such as at your workplace?

prototyping a solution

3D printing was the most viable way for me to create a functioning prototype. However, due to the cost and timesink of 3D printing, it wasn’t appropriate to immediately churn out large plastic pieces. I used paper to figure out how the components might fit on the doorknob and around each other before sketching out forms in Rhino. I also 3D printed small studies that isolated one aspect of the kit, like notch sizes.

a functional prototype

After several mishaps in the printing process, I finally produced a prototype that worked. The kit consists of a lever that goes behind the doorknob, a rubber band that grips the doorknob, and a ring that couples them together. Installation takes less than a minute.

what next?

The kit works, but has much room for improvement:

aside: the role of guerilla public service in transition design

Artist disguised as a government construction worker alters a highway sign.
Artist disguised as a government construction worker alters a highway sign
From Catherine Cummings, Richard Ankrom

When conceptualizing the door lever kit, I realized that it had the potential to be like graffiti; anyone with appropriate equipment, enough ability, and a compatible arena could produce and install it. The kit gives people agency to alter their environment. Some might consider this guerilla public service.

Real change comes from transforming entire systems. But that takes a long time, and immediate consequences wait for no one. In the interim, bandages like the door lever kit can provide temporary relief in lieu of complete repair.

Some might be inclined to metaphorically (or literally) take a sledgehammer to barriers. Such an act may incite conflict rather than conversation, which is required for peaceful acceleration of progress. The nondestructive nature of the door lever kit supports peaceful progress.

There’s a lot more for us to discover about guerilla public service. I hope it turns out to be a great complement to systemic change.

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