Introduction: Life Hack - Repair Using a 3D Printer

Hi -- This instructable starts with a failure..

Everyone has a really useful and in my case cheap item that does its job until it gets used so much that you break it. This is what happened to a set of my headphones. When something like this happens the break never seems to be on a part that can be fixed easily either by glue or sellotape, no it happens of an awkward hinge so you wind up looking fairly silly listening to your music etc while having one side clamped to your head and having to hold the other.

As you can see the bit that failed was a simple pin holding the speaker to the set. these phones have been sat around now for some time with me thinking that something could be done with them until I got a 3D printer. This guide will take you through how to use your newest toy (the printer) to fix one of your older toys.

This is only intended to be a simple guide, it cannot go into detail for every possibility as every repair will be specific to your needs, however it will give you and idea as to how useful a 3D printer can become in your household...... Please read on

Step 1: Skethup Model

To fix or make anything on a 3D printer you will need a digital model in the form of an STL file that can then be prepared for printing. To create mine I used a set of digital calipers to make measurements of each part of the hinge. I then transferred these dimensions into sketchup to create a virtual hinge.

NOTE - when transferring your measurements don't make the same mistake I did... I got all the way through the process and found that because I had not paid attention to the location of the pin hole relative to the inner lug (you can see this in the second picture) my finished hinge was actually perfect but for the wrong side, this meant that when fitted the speaker would be turned away from my head.- So make sure you look at the object before you start.

Once you have your part you have to save it for future use (or in case you have made a mistake in the design) then you need to export it as an STL file ready for your printer software, make sure you select the correct units for the file (usually mm).

Step 2: Printing the Part

I used the V3 (Vector 3) software to print the hing - this is a really simple software to use, the first thing you have to do is load your STL file which will drop into the center of the display area.

The next step is to have the software slice your model, this chops the part into sections across the part and it is these that the printer will follow when laying down the plastic for your creation.

The second and third images show the sliced model. You can also see some support structures that I had the software create this is because the circular section of the part overhangs the lower part of the hinge. If I had omitted the supports then the hot plastic would sag during printing and the part would be useless.

With the slicing done the software now has what is called G-Code, a set of instructions combined from the model itself and the settings in the software all of which tells the printer where to print, how fast, what direction and also how hot the extruder should get the plastic as it is laid down.

Select print and if your printer is set up correctly you should start to see your part being made.

Step 3: Cleaning Up

When I first got my printer I innocently thought that it would print out the part and away I would go, THIS IS NOT the case. What you get at the end of a print can be very rough and a bit messy and will need to be cleaned up. As you can see from the pictures you will need to remove the support structures using pliers and a sharp knife. Because the hing also has a screw hole which is very small I had to use a jewelers drill to clear the hole to stop the screw from splitting the part when attached.

With the part cleaned up you can test fit it to see if it works (this is when I found that the first attempt was wrong and had to start over)

Step 4: Put It Together

Once you have your part its then a simple matter of putting all the parts back together, a set of headphones is fairly simple, but if you are working on more complex repairs then I would suggest taking photos as you dismantle then you have a story to follow when putting it back together.

I have also repaired a nail gun trigger using this method and it really helps

With your object put back together you should be good to go until you break another part of it.

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Bio: Hi I like to have a go at anything that's interesting, from CNC to toy making, recently I have been dismantling an old Cybot ... More »
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