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Quick and Dirty: 3D Printing Missing Parts

Posted by Jason Robinson on

In preparation for next week's Parent/Child Arduino Coding Workshop, we did a little organizing in the lab.  We have quite a few plastic cabinets to store our stuff because they look reasonably nice and they are the right price for the amount of stuff we can store in them.  We've put many of these same type of cabinets together in the past, but when we opened today's box, we were met with an omen:

Normally, we don't pay much attention to these signs and this one was discarded with instructions.  95% of the way through the assembly we discovered that we were missing two pieces which act as hinge pins for the upper doors when they attach to the top of the cabinet.  It should look like this:

However, much to our annoyance, there these two pieces were missing so the tops of the doors were flopping around aimlessly as you open and shut the cabinet.  This did not please us:

Instead of calling the number and having to wait 5-10 business days (best guess) for replacement parts, we decided to do what we do best: Make.

After some quick measurements with the calipers we determined that the diameter of the hole was 21mm.  The depth was pretty much irrelevant because we were going to add a flange that would stop the pin from dropping into the door or being pressed into the lid of the cabinet.  We fired up Fusion 360 and made a quick design:

Mind you, its nothing special, nor does it have to be.  Like the title implies this is a quick and dirty operation.  We sent the design to our trusty Lulzbot Taz 5 and 30 minutes later we had two hinge pins with flanges.  The print quality is low, but this is a functional piece - we really didn't care what it looked like.

We asked Cura to print support structure, so the print turned out to be rough, but the good news was that the pins fit on the first go around.  Then we simply pressed the door and lid together and fixed the glitch.

I care more that the door works than how it looks.  The moral of the story is that 3D printers can have practical uses if you don't want to wait for replacement parts.  It will take some measuring and familiarity with some sort of CAD software- but in the end you can make a replacement part for something that you want to use.


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