One of the most innovative uses of 3D printing is for repairs. 3D printing can be used to create replacement parts for broken or damaged objects, or to make repairs to objects that are not easily or economically repairable with traditional methods.
Here are some of the ways that 3D printing is being used for repairs:
- Repairing broken appliances: 3D printing can be used to create replacement parts for broken appliances, such as refrigerator doors, washing machine hinges, and dryer drum supports. This can save people a lot of money on repair costs, and it can also help to extend the lifespan of appliances.
- Restoring antique furniture: 3D printing can be used to create replacement parts for antique furniture, such as missing legs, broken handles, and loose joints. This can help to preserve antique furniture and keep it in good condition for many years to come.
- Repairing toys: 3D printing can be used to create replacement parts for broken toys, such as missing pieces, broken hinges, and loose wheels. This can save parents money on replacing toys, and it can also help to keep children entertained for longer.
- Making repairs in remote locations: 3D printing can be used to make repairs in remote locations where it is difficult or expensive to get replacement parts. For example, 3D printing has been used to repair equipment in the field by military personnel, and it has also been used to repair medical equipment in developing countries.
- Customizing repairs: 3D printing can be used to create custom repairs that are perfectly suited to the specific needs of an object. For example, a 3D printer can be used to create a custom bracket to hold a broken object in place, or it can be used to create a custom replacement part that is stronger or more durable than the original part.
These are just a few of the ways that 3D printing is being used for repairs. As the technology continues to develop, it is likely that we will see even more innovative and creative applications for 3D printing in the future.
The process for Repairs
The 3D printing process for repairs can vary depending on the specific application. However, in general, the process involves the following steps:
- Designing the repair part. The first step is to design the repair part using a 3D CAD software. The design should take into account the dimensions and shape of the broken part, as well as the materials that will be used for the repair. Here one can use tools such as a vernier caliper in order to retrieve the accurate dimensions of the part.
Another method which I like using is to use a scanner in order to place the object on the scanner and scan it to be able to retrieve the shape of the object. You then import the photos or scan into the CAD software and start the design process.
In the below image you can see that I imported the scan into my CAD software and created an outline of the object. I also created the circles and rounded rectangles which I measured using vernier calipers to create the cutout holes.
Once the design is ready and I extruded the part, I re-measured the design in order to make sure that my dimensions are as accurate as can be. The below is a render of the final 3D Design;
- Preparing the 3D printer. Once the design is complete, the 3D printer needs to be prepared for printing. This includes loading the printer with the appropriate materials and setting the printing parameters. Here one must consider what the part is going to be used for, if the part requires to be as strong as possible then once could consider using ABS material.
- Once the part is printed, it may need to be finished in order to make it ready for use. This may involve sanding, painting, or other finishing processes. In this case the part we used as an example for this article did not require any post processing and the final result can be seen below.
The 3D printing process for repairs can be a complex and time-consuming process, but it can be a valuable tool for fixing broken or damaged objects. With the right design and materials, 3D printing can be used to create strong, durable, and long-lasting repairs.