Reverse Engineering + Summertime Grilling = Perfection, Who knew?!

by Brian Childree

Your Summertime Grilling Needs a Dash of Reverse Engineering

June 20 marks the first day of summer and for my father-in-law, Mark, it’s the first day of grilling season.  Mark absolutely loves to grill. In fact, to prepare for the season, he has “pre-season training” in May.  This is when he noticed a problem…

Cooking with Fire


When in use, his grill sits at the edge of patio facing West.  During one of Mark’s evening test runs, there was a steady 20 mph breeze from the East. When the grill reached optimal temperature, Mark reached for the burner knobs to adjust the heat but quickly pulled his hand back when he found that they were scorching hot. This left him confused and questioning why the knob on his trusty grill was suddenly overheating. Mark opened the grill doors and shut the propane off.

After the grill cooled, he inspected the knobs and realized the back of every one of them were melted so much so that they no longer fit onto the keyed burner adjustment stems.  After some investigation, we realized that the wind out of the East pushed hot air from the grill to the back of the knobs rather than upward.  Clearly, this was a job for GoEngineer.

See A Need, Fill A Need

Using the least melted knob, I reverse engineered the design and recreated it using SOLIDWORKS 2016.

Reverse Engineering used for BBQ knobCookin' with Fire 1

I then sent this design to our 3D printing team where they used a Stratasys Fortus 400mc printer to create 4 replacement knobs using Ultem 1010, our highest heat-resistant thermoplastic.

Now that we had replacement knobs the only thing left to do was to paint and install them.  For paint, I picked up a high-temp enamel in black to match the trim on the grill and to give the new knobs as much protection as possible. The installation was easy and the knobs fit better than the original ones!

Cookin with Fire 4

Thanks to GoEngineer, SOLIDWORKS and Stratasys technologies, Mark’s grill is working better than ever.  He loves showing off the new burner knobs to everyone he invites over because “it’s the same stuff they use at NASA”.Cookin with Fire 5
Best of all I get to enjoy more of Mark’s grilling this summer!

“If It Ain’t Broke, Don’t Fix it.” But, if it is broken in a way you care about, consider reverse engineering, SOLIDWORKS and 3D printing to get the job done.

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