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3D Printer Vs. Hardware Store Trip

Updated: May 30

Today we have an epic showdown!

And lucky you, no pay per view subscription is required!!!

In the Blue corner (affiliate link) weighing in at approximately 52 lbs we have a 3D printer capable of causing severe frustration and 3rd degree burns!

In the Red corner weighing in at somewhere between 3,850 to 4,606 lbs according to the internet, we have a 1/2 ton work truck. It hauls firewood and shrugs off paint scratches with reckless abandon!

Today's battle royal: Who can fix the slider wheel on the overloaded "To be sorted" (AKA - misc crap) drawer of the laser cutter cabinet faster. Dun, Dun, Dun!!!

Our contestants face some serious challenges, lets summarize:

Red contestant - The closest hardware store is 13.6 miles one way. This is approximately a 20 minute drive with no traffic. The drawer slide will have to be measured or removed in order to have an accurate point of reference. But, since the truck likes to live dangerously, there's no guarantee that the the store will have the right wheel or replacement drawer slide in stock!

Blue contestant (affiliate link) - This contestant has the home-field advantage, however the drawer slide wheel still needs to be measured and then a 3D model will need to be created. The new model will then need to be sliced and diced and translated into 3D printing langue. Next, assuming the 3D printer is already turned on filament must be laboriously loaded into the printer. Then it's an agonizing wait while the 3D warms up using it's Celsius units of measure instead of the faster Fahrenheit units of temperature! (It's obviously because faster and Fahrenheit both start with the letter "F")

An uphill battle for both contestants for sure! Break out the barbed wire shoes!!!

Mark, set, GO!

Blue contestant (affiliate link) is off to a strong lead! The 3D model is merely 2 sets of extruded circles with a chamfer and a fillet, how can this be?!?! Right click and export as STL already, are you kidding me?! Red contestant hasn't even hit the freeway yet!

Simplify 3D tag teams in with lighting fast slicing! But oh no, we loaded filament into the wrong extruder! Red contestant has a chance to catch up!

Hold the phone, S3D jumps from the top rope with a quick flip to the the RH extruder profile and re-export!

Blue contestant (affiliate link) is heating, Red contestant has exited the Freeway!

How long will it take to park?! 1 minute? 5 minutes?

How long will it take to print?! 10 minutes? 20 minutes?



To save time we're going to be forced to talk with someone instead of wandering until we find the drawer slides...

What? The print is done?! That can't be!!! NOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!

Tappy, tap, tap with the cute little HF hammer and we're rollin' drawers!


Red contestant is down for the count.

Blue contestant (affiliate link) emerges victorious! 3D printer beats trip to store!

Whew. What a ride! Lets just hope red contestant isn't a sore loser, physics would certainly be on reds's side if it was a game of chicken...

Anyhoo, the point of this post was to show that sometimes 3D printing is faster and simpler than other methods. Is this 3D printed wheel a perfect fix? No, it's not. But it is a huge improvement. The drawer doesn't sag or grind anymore and my time investment is around 20 minutes. Versus spending 40-60 minutes round trip to the store, plus $10-$20 on a new slide that I'd bet wasn't quite what I needed. And then I'd have to spend the next few hours replacing all four slides + another trip to the hardware store instead of just the wheel that wore off (am I the only one who's played that game?!).

So, wrapping up:

Is 3D printing cool? Absolutely!

Can 3D printing fix everything? Absolutely!

OK... Let me ask that a different way. Is 3D printing the right solution for all problems? Nope. And I realize that even though I'm still fascinated with 3D printing. It's one reason why I didn't try to print the K-Cup dispenser tube. PVC is inexpensive, readily available everywhere and does exactly what we need it to, no need to re-invent the wheel (ha! I see what you did there!)!

Alright, pictars!!! (spelling mistake is intentional)

The drawer with missing parts and what it should look like

The model


Side by side

Installed and working!

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