Over the last week or two I have posted several household repair items to Thingiverse.com Many of these items are trivial small designs but their value to me has really been adding up. I have saved a bunch of money by being able to repair items with pennies of plastic and a few minutes of time:
- X-10 wall switch button replacement
- Saved cost of replacing switch – $19 plus labor/time
- Bandsaw table insert
- Saved cost of replacement inserts – $8
- Replacement Auto Siphon end
- Saved cost of replacement – $15
- Replacement clip for diving mask
- Saved cost of replacement – $8
- Replacement toilet flush repair level
- Saved cost of replacement part – $8
In just a month I have printed around $58 worth of replacement parts for less than a dollars worth of plastic. Even with a small format FDM printer like a Printrbot Simple one could quickly recoup the costs with repair part savings. What surprises me more is that hardware stores haven’t formed some sort of alliance with manufactures to bring rapid part replacement. In turn manufactures who have this feature would have another selling point for something they have to produce already, a CAD Design for the part.
All these little replacement parts were whipped up in 10 minutes with a set of cheap callipers and OpenScad. If I could scan a QR code on a product I purchased for cad repair part files I’d be really happy. How many people need an X10 replacement button or a toilet flush repair lever. These take space on a store shelf, which costs money. They have to be manufactured, packaged and shipped, which costs money. By they time they reach you the $0.10 worth of plastic is suddenly $8.00. Envision a hardware store with hardware and a 3D printer. You bring your broken part in and they look it up/scan it and print another one out on the fly on their stores 3D printer. Yes this would require an inventory of 3D cad files but these already exist. Remember they had to make one for the design in the first place.