Alright, maybe it's not the most glamorous topic, but there's a real need for this project.

Sometimes replacement parts are not available anywhere. A problem came up for me recently, and I was able to create the part using AutoDesk Inventor and 3-d printing technology.

The Porter Cable 557 type 1 biscuit joiner uses plastic parts for the key fence hinges.  These parts are prone to breakage and the supply of spare parts is exhausted. Any web search for "part 151" will turn up only part suppliers who report that the part is no longer available, and forum posts from people who are trying to find one.

For the lack of a $1 part, a $200 tool is rendered unusable.

Here's how I learned all this: Not too long ago, I picked up a biscuit joiner cheap on eBay.  The ad said that there was one broken plastic part. Not realizing that it was a critical part, I bought the joiner. After a month of fruitless searching for a replacement part, I realized I would have to make my own or junk the tool.

Step 1: The Tool

I needed a biscuit joiner for my shop, but not badly enough to feel justified paying the full new price.  Eventually this bargain turned up on eBay. The text said there was a broken pivot piece, but that the replacement part is easy to change. That's all true enough *if* you can get that replacement part. However, it turns out that the part is simply not available.

At this point, it was either scrap the tool, or come up with my own pivot piece.

Step 2: Measuring the Part

The first photo shows the broken part. The damage might not look too bad in this photo, but in practice it leaves the joiner fence loose and wobbly. The tool is unusable as is.

The first step was to get a pair of calipers and take all the measurements I could.

Step 3: Designing the Part in AutoDesk Inventor.

The next step was a quick session with AutoDesk Inventor.  It was surprisingly easy.  The entire project could serve as a beginner's tutorial for the software.  A copy of the ipt file is enclosed.

Step 4: Generate and Upload .stl File

AutoDesk Inventor can generate an stl file, which is the format used by most CAM software. Not having my own 3-d printer, I uploaded it to Shapeways.com. Shapeways allows you to print an object in a variety of materials, ranging from plain white plastic to stainless steel. I opted for the plastic since it's the cheapest.

The stl file is included here. The model is available at the AutoDesk 123D gallery. You can also access the project directly at Shapeways, and order your own copy shortly.

As an aside, there's a plugin for Sketchup (http://sourceforge.net/projects/stl4su/) which allows you to import stl files into Sketchup. I find this a useful way to double-check an stl file.

Step 5: The Finished Part

Two weeks later, this arrived in the mail.

Step 6: The Part Is Installed

The piece was a perfect fit.  I had expected to need to make refinements on my prototype, but the very first version fit the joiner perfectly right out of the box.
<p>This is great! Any chance that you've uploaded the corresponding 150 part to Shapeways?</p>
I ranbinto the same problem with my jointer as you did. The same part broke on mine and have been searching for it for months, with no luck. This is an awesome idea that you have and never wouldve thought to do what you did. Is there any chance that i can buy one from you? My jointer is a type 2, not sure if its the same part but im not able to do what you did on the computer. If this is something that you can help me with, please email me at jhall347@yahoo.com thank you, Josh
<p>Sure, no problem. this part fits the type 1 and type 2 joiners. (Type 3 and 4 are still available on line). You can go print your own at https://www.shapeways.com/product/A9CXTTX5N/porter-cable-557-type-1-biscuit-joiner-part-151</p>
This is a great writeup, I'll have to keep this in mind when restoring my next old woodworking machine. For newer stuff I generally check ereplacemntparts.com which has the left and right pivots for the PC 557 for $4.38 and $10.20 respectively.
Yes, there are a number of sites like ereplacementparts.com, and they perform an awesome service. I recommend them highly. <br> <br>Unfortunately, they only carry part 151 for joiners type 3 and 4. I bought one hoping it would fit a type 1 joiner, but it didn't. <br> <br>For more information, read the first comment at http://www.ereplacementparts.com/porter-cable-557-type-plate-joiner-kit-parts-c-129_1899_1905.html <br> <br>A friend of mine had a brilliant idea yesterday: all manufacturers, when a part runs out of stock, should publish the appropriate stl file to Shapeways or a similar site, so that their customer support effectively lasts forever. Similar to the way most of them keep old manuals online in pdf format nowadays.
Aaannnnd, the future is here: http://boingboing.net/2012/10/01/popular-synthesizer-manufactur.html <br> <br>Popular synthesizer manufacturer wants you to print out your own replacement knobs
Refering to your stl file. <br> <br>I was thinking something on the same line....; in 5 -10 years it might be cheaper for manufactures to actually just print out replacement parts at local registered 3d shops , maybe UPS or Kinko, and have the part ship locally. <br> <br>With the markets becoming more global, 3d printing will help reduce shipping cost, inventory cost, and shipping time. <br> <br>god bless 3d printing <br> <br>
Falk - Excellent 'structable! If you had a Makerbot 3D printer you could make your part instantly. Also would be great for prototyping other items. Keep up the great work!

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