Eventually it had to come to this: a company providing 3D models of their spare parts so that you could print your own copies.
Traditionally one would have mail-ordered for the spare parts or had to find a local reseller that carried the inevitably over-priced replacement knob. But now that’s changing due to 3D printing.
The manufacturer in question is Teenage Engineering, a Swedish company that produces a very popular miniature synthesizer. The company has posted a ZIP file named “OP-1 Accessories CAD” containing STL files for six different common replacement parts (cover plug, crank assembly, strap screw, etc.)
While they still sell such things in their online store, the cost of shipping from Sweden evidently made them difficult to sell. Thus, the alternative was to “ship them electronically” via STL files.
At the moment this file is free for download. No purchase necessary. Meanwhile, you could have purchased actual physical specimens from their store at a cost in excess of USD$50. But you won’t, because you’re printing them yourself.
Does this mean a trend has started? By no means. While Teenage Engineering felt it was more economical to distribute these particular parts electronically at no charge, other manufacturers undoubtably have significant business models built on spare parts. We know this directly, having spent USD$40 on a washing machine knob last week.
Nevertheless, this is a very interesting step that other manufacturers might consider.