Anyone here with a 3D printer?

I’m thinking of looking for someone to make a replacement plastic part for me, but I’d need to know approximate costs first. Don’t want to spend too much.

Here’s a picture of what I’ll need. It’s the handle for a plastic locker. It’s about 4" tall, the handle itself probably pencil-thin. It sits on a rectangular plate, and on the back of the plate are two plastic pins that snap in to holes. In the middle of the back is a rectangular fin that slips into a slot on the locker when it is closed.

I have an existing locker (that’s the photo) from which I could remove the existing handle and send it to the printer. I don’t have the skill to make a drawing. So that’d add to the cost.

Considering contacting the company that made the locker, which is still in business (Suncast) but the locker is stamped 1993 so I’m not hopeful they still make 'em or have the parts.

But, whatever I decide to do, I’m still curious as to how much a project like this would go for. How much does the resin cost? How much does it take to make a design from an existing piece? If you’ve got a printer - what would you charge?

I don’t own a printer, but I’ve had a chance to play with the output of a few. I don’t think you’re going to get what you want: the items I’ve seen printed on the consumer-level 3D printers are surprisingly fragile and rigid – I’d be surprised if you could snap them into your holes without breaking, and they definitely wouldn’t stand up to regular use. A commercial sand-substrate or similar printer might make a piece that was strong enough, but that’s an entirely different (and vastly more expensive) beast.

The drawing shouldn’t be a problem, though: that’s simple enough and with large enough tolerances that a cheap laser scanner ought to be able to produce a sufficient model directly.

The plastic is cheap. A piece like that would be under a dollar. Modeling the piece is the more difficult part. It would take me at least an hour, though someone more experienced could probably do it in <30 min. The cost depends on who you can find to do it–I’d have done it for $20 back in college; today, not so much. Access to a laser scanner would decrease the cost, since they’d no longer have to model the part manually.

Just a note–I’m referring to the “fused deposition modeling” type that is common among relatively cheap printers. The results are ok, but nowhere close to the quality of a typical injection molded part. So for instance, on your picture there are parts that have smooth plastic and parts that are rougher–the detail of FDM is far too low to show any difference there. The whole part will have a ridged appearance.

There are higher quality techniques but they are substantially more expensive.

I’d have to disagree here. My experience is that the objects are fairly strong and could stand up to typical use. I built a PCB mounting piece for my quadcopter and it’s proven fairly durable. Both ABS and PLA plastic are commonly available and they have slightly different properties (one or the other might be best depending on the application).

Thanks for the info so far. I assume the strength depends on the material used for printing, right?

As for the level of detail - forgot to mention that it doesn’t have to look exactly the same, it just has to be functional. Something to grip, two pins in the right place (that work the same way), and a fin to fit in the slot.

Yeah; ABS is the more common material and I believe a bit stronger than PLA, though I suspect the difference is negligible for your application. If it doesn’t have to be too pretty, the common extruded plastic printers will work just fine.

I’ve been looking for a business that does this too. I keep hoping the day will come when broken small plastic parts can easily be scanned and printed.

Seems like a really good small business model.

I’ve been using a SLS nylon phone case for more than a year, and it feels more than strong enough to replace that handle. I don’t think there are any personal SLS printers, though.

If you don’t HAVE to use 3D printing, have a look at Instamorph. Basically plastic that becomes putty at 60°C. I think it’s strong enough for your application (that handle has no moving parts, right? How does the door lock?). I used it to repair my shower knob. You might not be able to make the clips, you could just mould it to the door when hot.

Actually I think there are a few low-tech methods that could work. If you have a handle to work with, you can use it to make a mould to then cast plastic. These mould-making kits can be bought at craft stores.

What’s wrong with it? Could the existing one be repaired with something like Sugru?

Have you considered fiberglassing/ or carbon fibre a new one vs. a 3d printer? I get the tech jones as bad as anyone but what you’ll spend on a decent 3d printer would probably buy you a new locker. FWIW, you can use an acetone vapor bath to smooth the rough edges on the cheaper printers.
If you’re willing to put in the sanding time I think using foam to sculpt a new handle and a few layers of CF would set you up nicely. Plus you’d have that Gucci CF weave look to the handle. It seriously is easy.

Good info all, thanks. Might go down the Instamorph or Sugru path.

What the deal is is that I have this very locker in my house that I bought at a garage sale. I put it in my guest room where I had a bunch of junk waiting to be sold. Had some friends and their kids over and mentioned that everything in the room was for sale. Friend’s kid wanted the locker. I felt bad cuz it actually wasn’t for sale.

Locker comes up for sale on this FB group I’m on, only $10 cuz it’s in bad shape. I buy the locker and spruce it up, meaning to give it to my friend’s kid.

I feel kinda bad about giving her a locker w/o a handle. But the door does close and stay closed. I don’t want to spend too much on it. I know the kid is sweet as pie and will love it without the handle.

Wondering now if I can tell her dad “Here’s a gift for your kid. And here’s some ideas from Dopers about how to fix the handle!” :slight_smile:

Mainly I did want to get some ideas for costs and stuff for this new wave of DIY plastics, even if I don’t go that route.

So, thanks again!

Actually, if you just want a handle, a wall hook with double-sided tape is good enough.

I think the obstacle for 3D printing now is a lot of its applications can be done cheaper and more easily by other methods. Perhaps its only advantage is interlocking parts.

The Cleveland Public Library’s Tech Central has 3D printers you can use for free. I think there is a small charge for the resin. And they have tech people who can help you with the programming. One of my coworkers works there as his primary job. PM me if you need more info. I have a shelving unit with a broken connector I need to replace and he said it was a fairly simple job.

I have 99% of a 3d printer. It’s physically whole, but not yet properly configured.

I suspect the rule will hold true that holds for my Lathe: If it exists, it’s ALWAYS cheaper to buy it.

It’s not likely you can buy a replacement handle, you have to find the manufacturer, they have to have the parts in recent production, they have to have the infrastructure to actually put it in an envelope and mail it to you.

But man, if she’s not picky, there are two holes…run a ziptie through them.

Woah, thanks! I looked on their website…now I have to figure out how to get a drawing made of this thing :slight_smile: