Polite houseguests print and repair

3D Printing & Imaging
Polite houseguests print and repair

Last night I was out on an adventure. In the morning, the shower curtain fell down because the pole was a bit too short. After I pulled the paper towel tube shim out, I tried to twist the rod to lengthen it. Since it was maxed out, it needed a little something special to help make ends meet.

When I went downstairs, I took a few extra steps out to the car, got the MakerBot, and returned to fire up the computer with Sketchup. It took two iterations to get the dimensions right. The new part came out sized to fit over the end of the curtain rod and take up a bit of the gap.

When everybody else woke up, conversation turned to MakerBots, 3D printing, shower curtains, and how someday everybody will have their own plastic manufactory. Just think, twenty years go, not too many people had a home color printer. What might we see twenty years from now?

Here are the files.

38 thoughts on “Polite houseguests print and repair

  1. Bruce says:

    Warning: May confuse non-hacker-folk. If you do this for non-techie relatives, be prepared for a freaked out phone call 5-10 years from now when they break the part you made and find out from the hardware store that no one’s ever heard of it. (Although I have to laugh imagining *that* conversation at the store .. :D )

  2. Matthew Grossman says:

    How polite! I suppose the only downside to the ‘personal manufactory’ future is a lot more weird little non-biodegradable plastic parts in the world. Repair is always better than recycling, though, I suppose!

    1. Anonymous says:

      Rocks aren’t “biodegradable” either.

      1. Matthew says:

        Rocks do in fact degrade; it’s a process called weathering. It’s why we have sandy beaches! (sand=quartz=leftover mineral from eroded rocks) At least when rocks degrade, they make a positive impact on the soil by adding nutrients rather than adding carcinogens.

    2. Anonymous says:

      We have single stream recycling in my town, so I just toss the ABS bits in with the other plastic, newspaper, glass, tinfoil and soup cans. The volume of scrap from the 3D printer is way less than is generated by regular life.

      1. Anonymous says:

        Single stream recycling is mostly greenwash, paper is usually too contaminated to be useful and plastics are even more of a nightmare. There’s no real way to sort all the different kinds of plastic, but they need to be handled independently to be of any real use.

        In your case they’re probably just throwing it away further up the line.

        1. Anonymous says:

          A few years ago I went on a ‘Recycling Field Trip’ with the rest of the transfer station advisory board in my town. We were investigating what happens when you recycle through our current system.

          Here are the photos: http://blog.makezine.com/archive/2008/12/what-happens-to-your-recycling.html

          It was impressive how the materials were sorted using a variety of machines and systems. They used electromagnets to pull out the iron, crushed the glass, stirred the paper to separate it from the cardboard and the plastic ended up on a conveyor belt armed with a camera and series of air jets.

          What went in as a mixed collection of just about everything came out in bales of surprisingly uniform materials. Milk jugs without laundry detergent containers, tin cans apart from aluminum foil. It was all stacked up and ready to be sent back to become more stuff to recycle after we use it.

          The size of the piles were, according to the owners of the company, largely affected by the world economy and the need for us to buy more stuff.

          In a perfect world, we make and reuse what we need. Recycling is okay, but really should be minimized as it’s a short step from being trash. Trash, in our case, goes off to a different plant to be burned and converted to electricity, but that’s a different field trip.

    3. A J says:

      Thankfully, ABS is recyclable, so hopefully one day, when this part gives out, it can be melted down into another, handy part for something else.

      1. Ren Tescher says:

        Then everybody should have a subroutine for their Make-R-Bot (like Git-R-Done!) that will “print” the recycle “triangle” device on every part they make, hmmm, maybe they should also print a part # on it and have the build file on sourceforge so anyone with a Make-R-Bot (TM) could rebuild a broken part when needed.

        1. Anonymous says:

          Great idea!

      2. Caleb Jamison says:

        Does PLA recycle well to? Or just ABS?

    4. ILL TROOPER says:

      Well, look… If parts are custom-made to order, that’s better than the existing approach of manufacturing 10,000 generic parts and having 4,300 sit in a warehouse to eventually get discarded into the world.

      Either side in your scenario is a “plastic non-bioderadable plastic part in the world…” I say opt for the “make it as you need it” option.

  3. A J says:

    Owning a thingomatic, I know exactly how this feels now. Waking up, madly scrambling to find a pair of cufflinks for a shirt, and then realizing you can design and print a new pair in the time it takes to get ready for work, is great.

  4. Caleb Jamison says:

    “The conversion turned to MakerBots, 3D printing, shower curtains…”

    I’ve been re-reading the hitchhickers guide to the universe and that wounds almost like a quote, nice.

  5. Engineer Zero says:

    I use Sketchup but it doesn’t have STL file output for 3D printing. I’ve looked into conversion programs/plug-ins and I’d be interested in what you used.

    1. Anonymous says:

      Makerblock has a good list of Sketchup plugins. http://makerblock.com/2010/01/google-sketchup-plugins/ The one I used is number one on the list. It adds an item to the Tools menu. There’s another for importing STL files, which is pretty useful, too.

  6. Ronnie Hinton says:

    I had the same issue with my curtain rod, but because I’d broken the spiral bit in the middle of the rod and remelted it together to get it working again. Turns out small flower pots serve this purpose swimmingly as well.

  7. jeremiah johnson says:

    Yeah. I’d love to pay $1500 for a machine to make something I can carve out of wood in 2 minutes with nothing more than a $5 saw, for less than a dollar. Or something that I’d be able to replace with a simple trip to a hardware store, for $10.

    What kind of idiots do you think we are?

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