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Creating a replacement part for a power tool where no part is available.

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Picture of Creating a replacement part for a power tool where no part is available.
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.
 
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Step 1: The tool

Picture of 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

Picture of Measuring the part
part151d.JPG
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.
quattro2 years ago
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.
falk (author)  quattro2 years ago
Yes, there are a number of sites like ereplacementparts.com, and they perform an awesome service. I recommend them highly.

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.

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

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.
falk (author)  falk1 year ago
Aaannnnd, the future is here: http://boingboing.net/2012/10/01/popular-synthesizer-manufactur.html

Popular synthesizer manufacturer wants you to print out your own replacement knobs
james123cb falk2 years ago
Refering to your stl file.

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.

With the markets becoming more global, 3d printing will help reduce shipping cost, inventory cost, and shipping time.

god bless 3d printing

Foxtrot702 years ago
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!