Recently, I helped my friend Victor with a kitchen drawer repair.
Making replacement parts is one good reason to use a 3D printer. Victor gave me a call and wondered if I could replace the drawer stopper in one of his kitchen drawers. This plastic part (shown above as “original”) had broken. This is a small part, about 20 mm wide and 65 mm long. And it is a really weird shape, with some notches, holes and bends.
As shown here, it did not turn out well. We did several tried and got the basic shape. But even after modification in Meshmixer it was too hard to get the notches and holes sized right.
Part of this was my lack of skill with Meshmixer, which has virtually no help system or manual.
So, we took some careful measurements and I designed a part from scratch using CAD. One thing about CAD, the more you use it, the more you learn, the more you can do with it. I also took a functional approach. This means that the part only had to work, it did not need to look exactly the same. The next time I take on a project like this, I will start with CAD rather than start with 123D Catch, which is a great tool but has its limitations.
I will print a few more for Victor so he has them ready when needed, and also give him a copy of the STL file so that he can get anyone with a 3D printer to make more for him.
Very few people I know in Calgary have 3D printers, although I guess most schools have them. There is a Mini Maker Faire in Calgary later this month. Maybe I will go and meet a few more users.