Introduction: Use the Laser Cutter to Make Repairs

Laser cutters are great for making art projects, high-precision prototypes, and lots of clever gadgets. They're also great for making replacement parts and extending the life of stuff you already have.

I inherited a tape dispenser with no wheel to hold the tape. Not very useful!  So I went in to TechShop, and used the laser cutter, some scraps, and about 20mins to make a replacement. Now I have a tape dispenser.

- Me: 1 Landfill: 0 -

Have any parts that need rigging/jigging/replacement/repair? Come to Techshop!

Step 1: Materials and Tools

- Tape (needed this to know what size to make the wheel that holds it.)
- Calipers
- Tape dispenser
- Aluminum rod, about 1/8" diam (I grabbed some welding rod)
- Pliers/Wire cutters for the rod
- Scrap masonite and acrylic (I used the masonite.)

Step 2: Measure

- Measure the inner diameter of the tape roll, to see how large to make the round part of the wheel
- Measure the width of the tape to see how wide to make the wheel
- In the photo you can kinda see the channels on either side of the dispenser that hold the axle of the wheel (such strange words to apply to a tape dispenser!) Anyway, the other photo shows me taking a measurement between the channels so the axle is long enough to sit in place

Step 3: Design the Wheel on the Computer

Take a look at the masonite in the materials section. I decided to cut discs from masonite scrap that are the right diameter for the tape role, and with a hole in the center for the axle, then stack them up until they suit the width of the role. This lets me use thin, fast-cutting scrap.

I designed the wheel parts in CorelDraw:
- Make a workspace that's the size of the laser bed
- Create a circle that's the inner diameter of the tape role. "But won't that make it too tight to fit in the tape role?" "In theory, yes, but the laser burns enough material away to loosen up the fit."
- Create a circle that the diameter of the axle (I clicked and dragged guides from the side rulers to help make my two circles concentric)
- Copy and past until I have enough to stack up for the width of the tape role (I calculated 5)
- Set vectors to hairline thickness, no fill, and use the settings for hardwood as a reference for cutting. And cut 'em out!

Step 4: Assembly

- This is how one disc looks
- This is how they look stacked. I used the wire cutters to cut the axle so it'll rest in those channels on the dispenser...
- ... Then I cleaned up the ends on the abrasive wheel. Aluminum axle = aluminum only wheel.

Step 5: Finished Repaired Tape Dispenser!

Worked like a charm!

Now come down to the 'Shop and fix everything that's broken!

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