Are 3D Printers a real asset for the home?

Author: microplus/Monday, 11 April 2016/Categories: 3D Printing News, UP Box 3D Printer, 3D Printed Items, 3D Printing Design Software

Are 3D Printers a real asset for the home?

Picture of the Broken original rail

People often ask me what would they do with a 3D Printer at home.
I usually reply with, I cannot imagine not having a 3D Printer at home as I have used our 3D Printers to fix or improve so many things around the house I would be lost without them.

My most recent task was to repair a older style Kitchen Draw Rail. 

The other day I pulled the kitchen draw out to access a utensil and to my surprise it nearly landed on my feet. This is an older style draw that slides on a very lightweight plastic guide rail which is held in place with nails that look like heavy duty staples. On inspection I noticed that the plastic rail had fractured.

I immediately thought this was another job for our 3D Printer. I hear some of you saying why not go to the hardware store and buy a new rail or you could make one from timber. Due to the age of this rail I seriously doubt the hardware store would stock this plastic extrusion and I don’t think a rail made from timber would have lasted very long as it would have worn away over time. To be really honest I really did not feel like sawing and planing timber either.

The 3D Printed rail would be stronger and easier to produce. After measuring the old rail section I used our FormZ Design Software to draw a new rail. This rail was a simple design that anyone could draw using the most basic 3D Design Software. I designed it in 2 sections with an overlap join in the middle due to the size limitation of our 3D printer.

Screenshot of the new rail designed in FormZ

I had a few filaments to choose from ABS, PLA or Polymax PLA. I decided to use the Polymaker special blend Polymax PLA as I wanted a strong material that is not brittle, also Polymax prints with a real smooth almost slippery surface. I guess I would compare it to how Teflon finish feels. I always struggle to explain the feel as it is really unique.

The best thing about 3D Printing is once you send the job to the printer you can go and do other things like watch TV while the printer gets to work :-)  The print job finished and the new rails looked excellent. I designed 4 screw holes in the rails and used some large flat screws to fasten the new rails in place.

New 3D Printed rail mounted in place

Now for the true test!! Did I measure correctly, will the draw fit and slide in. Success it fitted like a glove and slid along the new rails better than the original rails. It worked so well I replaced the other old rails straight after. I needed 8 rails in total and the best part was not having to saw and shape 8 rails manually.

3D Printing often results in a better solution and less work. I really believe 3D Printers in the home will be as common as an electric drill.

Picture of the old broken rail and new 3D Printed Rail before installation.

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