We all have things in our everyday environment that consist of small things, which you don’t notice even, until they break. Then you look into it and find that replacement parts are not readily available, at which stage you are faced with a simple choice: Buy a new one, or create some sort of hack with duct tape and parts from other broken-down household items.
That may work but it is annoying to see something and remember it’s broken. Luckily today it is very easy to print the parts you need to fix something, and if you have access to a variety of print colors, the result may be so good as to be indistinguishable from the real thing.
I’ll give you an example. There’s a Finnish manufacturer of housekeeping items, such as cleaning tools and laundry management systems. They make a fine rack for drying clothes, which can be extended across the bathroom and pinned against the walls. The clotheslines are plastic, and they also can be adjusted for different room widths. The crucial item in this system is a tiny piece of plastic with two holes in it, and sometimes, it breaks.
Of course, you can use just a nylon cable tie but that loses the flexibility of the system. It’s better to have a look at the thing and see how to print a replacement part.
The object is an elongated cylinder through which there are two holes. It is about 23 mm wide, 15 mm across, and 2.8mm thick.
To model something like this, it’s easy to grab a picture of the object, place it in the background, and then create the mesh on top of the image. It’s also a good idea to just do the shape properly and not to worry about the size at all, since in the digital 3D world, you can rescale the object even at the printing machine to get it to the proper size.
The design time for this item was around 5 minutes. The print time for such a tiny piece is only 12 minutes, and when printed in ABS, it’s as good as the original (which probably is made of extruded ABS too).
I hope this example shows you how easy it is to make things when you still have the original piece or its copy available, although you can do very nicely with just a photo and good dimensions.
If you wish to learn more about 3D modeling order a short video where I show, how to model with 3D.