Peter at RepRap Central tells a story some of us have lived through, although not nearly as dramatic. The story involves Malcolm Messiter, whose decades-old Robert Goble Harpsichord required some maintenance. Specifically, the string-plucking jacks, made of Delrin, were cracking and needed to be replaced. Worse, there were some 183 such jacks in the harpsichord.
Messiter discovered that these specific jacks were not longer available and was faced with the daunting task of either building the 183 jacks or having someone make them at unknown, but likely high cost.
Instead Messiter turned to personal 3D printing, where he obtained a MakerBot Replicator and prepared a 3D model of the deteriorating jacks. After printing out all 183, he found the replacements to perform even better than the original Delrin pieces.
This is a scenario everyone finds themselves in sooner or later: a household item is broken and no commercial replacement is available. In the past you'd have few alternatives other than replacing an entire object or giving up. Now, if the piece isn't of huge complexity, one can quickly design a matching 3D model and print it out on a personal 3D printer or 3D print service.
The lifespan of household items may be gradually increasing.
Via RepRap Central