Our earlier post on the feasibility of performing self-repairs with 3D printing generated some feedback.
The post related the experience one 3D CAD user had in repairing his own broken Guitar Hero game. The repair was quite successful, and even transformed the unit into a more robust version as it incorporated some design improvements.
Our point to this story was that although this particular designer was able to successfully undertake such a project, there are many in society who would be unable to do so. However, reader Jeff Glancy says:
“There are multiple 3D CAD programs free to makers. Digital calipers are cheap. And plenty of videos online to teach skill.”
That is absolutely true – there are a handful of 3D CAD tools that are entirely free to use and frequently there are many training videos available. One is Autodesk Fusion 360, which is entirely free to use for many hobbyists, and Autodesk has an entire curriculum of training aids, taking one from zero to expert in short order.
But the question is, if such resources exist, why are so few people in the general population able to perform 3D CAD? Most people could, say, write a letter on a word processor and print it out, but the percentage of people that could pick up a 3D CAD tool and 3D print a new part must be less than a percent or two.
I’m thinking that it’s because these tools are still too challenging for most people. Even worse, I have a suspicion that a large proportion of people simply cannot “think” in 3D and are thus unable to use any 3D tool. Finally, there is the time factor: many people simply won’t allocate sufficient time to learning 3D skills because it is a low priority for them.
Thus Glancy is correct: there are many ways to inexpensively gain 3D skills, but at the same time most people won’t do so for a variety of reasons.
Meanwhile, another comment provided some interesting information. Reader Emanuel Campos of Argentina wrote:
“I took the same approach to a very simple toy of my son and made it as a STEAM Class step by step. we really have the power to repair and make it better! this is my class on Thingiverse education.”
It seems that Campos is part of a burgeoning “Fixer’s Club” that takes this application of 3D printing quite seriously. His Thingiverse post takes one through the steps required to perform your own repairs, including problem identification, measurements, designing, re-designing and ultimately 3D printing a replacement part. There are two lengthy videos that walk you through the entire process (en español):
Campos also points us to a busy Facebook group where makers continually discuss issues of personal repairs, including use of 3D printing.
Is there a conclusion to this matter? I think so: those few that can perform self-repairs using 3D printing do so frequently.