Customers are annoyed that the new Surface Pro 4 is incompatible with the Surface Pro 3 Dock. How does Microsoft fix the problem? A 3D printable Surface Pro Dock Adapter.
When an essential product is in short supply, how best to avoid an onslaught of complaints from your customers? Make the item in question 3D printable and the files free to download. At least, that’s the solution proposed by Microsoft concerning the dock for their new Surface 4 tablet.
It seems every upgraded piece of tech has just as many downsides as upsides, particularly when it comes to backwards compatibility. And there’s no easier way to annoy customers than to tell them all of their old gear is now useless.
The problem here is that the Surface Pro 3 dock isn’t compatible with the Surface Pro 4, not without the help of a spacer to allow it to fit properly. The new tablet may fit, but it doesn’t stay snug. Users have resorted to stuffing wads of paper underneath… which means the dock is basically useless.
In response, Microsoft came up with a practical, minimalist, slightly Macgyver-sounding solution. They want to give you a little piece of plastic to make it fit better. They call it a spacer. We’re calling it a Surface Pro Dock Adapter.
Have your Surface Pro Dock Adapter 3D Printed by the Professionals
Whilst the specific use-case — an adapter for a docking station — sounds a bit mundane, it’s still pretty amazing that users have been invited to 3D print their own solution to the problem.
Microsoft has also offered to send their customers a free spacer, but the customer will have to pay for shipping.
The company have also said they’ll keep spacers in stock in their brick-and-mortar stores. That means no shipping, and no hassle. Unfortunately, it appears that Microsoft retailers have been poorly informed on the entire situation. Reports have arisen that employees at these stores had never even heard of the spacer, and don’t have it in stock.
Enter 3D printing. For those with a machine of their own, the STL files can be downloaded from Microsoft’s website here, and you can go about manufacturing your very own Surface Pro Dock Adapter to your heart’s content.
Alternatively, if you don’t have access to a 3D printer, we’ve uploaded the STL file for the spacer to the ALL3DP price comparison engine, where you can choose from a range of materials and prices from professional 3D printing services like Shapeways, Sculpteo, and i.materialise.
Prices start at $30.64 for the spacer in strong and flexible white plastic.
License: The text of "Microsoft’s Surface Pro Dock Adapter is Scarce, Better 3D Print Your Own" by All3DP is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.