This 3D printing hobby has unleashed a monster; much to the horror of my wife, I have adopted a reverse version of the Brave New World Slogan “Ending is better than spending.” I don’t want to throw anything away when it can be fixed, recycled, re purposed, and reused. This is in large part due to my fiddling around with additive manufacturing. (If reading boring – why are you here? – then you can skip go right to Thingiverse for the part files)
As an example, when I was assembling a new Anycubic Delta printer, I managed to destroy a rather simple, but essential part. The piece of acrylic that holds the printer main board in place, cracked in half, in my man hands.
The old me would just call up the company that manufactures the printer to moan until a new part arrived, but, since I am a product of my impatient environment, I didn’t wish to wait 3 weeks while the part shipped from Shenzen China.
So I fired up Fusion 360 and decided to see if I can fabricate a replacement. I should probably back up a bit, and mention that the broken piece was the second half of a 2 part system. The two square holes in the center of the piece are used to hold it’s counterpart in place, which in turn, holds the motherboard firmly in the center of the print base. Armed with a metric ruler, I took the necessary measurements, generated the model in Fusion 360, then printed out the replacement part and assembled the pieces together:
To my shock, everything worked as intended. The holes were measured correctly, the acrylic fit into the fabricated piece…but… something was off. This piece was supposed to hold up the entire printer main board? Surely I could do better by increasing the structural integrity over the super glue holding everything together. I went back to Fusion 360 to see if I could somehow combine the two pieces into one:
Bingo. I actually improved a part for my printer. Without the use of any duct tape or super glue(whatsoever). Both pieces were successfully measured, designed, and fabricated in a single, structurally superior part for the Delta Printer.
Beaming from the success I just had, I loaded up another model on my other “working” printer. Just before I hit “print” I noticed… something… My eye began twitch uncontrollably when I noticed that the poly lactic acid (PLA) support that was holding the Z and X axis to the stabilizing guide rod, had dissolved.
See it? Right there in the center. Nothing is holding that screw in place. Luckily, when I first bought the printer, the manufacturer included the replacement 3D files for occasions just like this, so, I did not hesitate to print out a replacement:
Again. Great success. The beauty of the 3D printing / RepRap movement is that when components break (and they will), the community urges participants to fix the tiny broken piece and keep plodding forward. A first step of sorts, then onward to finally fixing a broken piece on the vacuum cleaner… or stitching the small tear in my favorite jeans… re-animating the hamster.
Ok. Maybe not that far… yet.