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Why can't we just buy the piece that's broken?!?

Updated: May 30

Don't you just hate it when something breaks but the manufacturer doesn't sell just the part that's actually broken so you're forced to buy the whole thing even though the majority of the thing still works just fine?

I hate it too and it's a big pet peeve of mine...

(Peeve is kind of a funny word isn't it? Wonder what it's origin is?! Engage side quest!!! Huh, looks like I've been using "pet peeve" wrong!)

OK, I stand corrected. (that's an odd one too, can you "sit" corrected or do you always have to stand?!...) Not being able to get the thing that's actually broken is a peeve of mine, not a pet peeve, since I'm pretty sure lots of people are also annoyed by this. And now we know. And that's not nothing...

Right, so. Back to it then - I have assembled you all here today to announce a slight shift in the unavailable parts peeve problem. We no longer have to worry about not being able to get replacement feet for the Fellows Stacking Wire Tray! (affiliate link) We can now 3D print all the feets!

I created this at the request of a family member who’s a teacher and has a lot of papers to keep track of. Hopefully it can help some other people out there or at least give someone another excuse to play with the 3D printer some more 😉

Don't have access to a 3D printer? No prob, they're available in my store here: )

AND! We're no longer stuck with just grey feet, we can print them in almost any color! Just imagine the color coordinated cahoots we can get into now...

That's great, I hear you asking, but how well does it actually work?! Well, here's a video of the 3D printed foot in action compared to the original part, very satisfying "Click"!

So yeah it works great!

And here's a picture of it in all it's file stacking glory.

As far as how I designed it - since this isn't a simple shape to measure, I imported a picture of a good foot into Fusion 360, scaled it to size and then traced it. From there I turned into a solid and made a test 3D print to check it.

I found out the printer (Ol' Flashy) did not like the little ripples on the foot and that the size was slightly off. Maybe my picture wasn't as straight on as I thought... But no worries, I smoothed out the bottom after checking with the person who wanted them that the ridges didn't need to be there and a couple quick adjustments later and we're onto prototype #2. It fit, but the "clip" area needed a little tuning for the right feel. Tweak, test, tweak test and then BOOM! Replacement foot is ready to roll!

The first set has been used for about a year now in a classroom and are still holding up great! No sign of dry rot or splitting or eating a students homework!

Now that you've read this far, let me politely berate you with some soapbox standing!

I think this is an excellent example of how localized 3D printing can help solve practical problems.

The stacking trays are not very expensive so why not just chuck out the whole thing and get a new one when one foot breaks right? Well not so fast. Sure it's relatively inexpensive to replace, but what if your local library/school/makerspace/neighbor/you could 3D print just the part that's broken? I'd bet you'd save a little bit of money and I'd bet if we did it enough it might even reduce the amount of junk that goes to the landfill.

To be clear, I say localized 3D printing because it costs more to ship one of these feet than it does to make it. And yeah, I know not everything is ready to 3D print (and honestly there's things that probably shouldn't be 3D printed... but that's another story for another day...) and it takes time and effort and moneys to model and create the part. The upside is that even though there's still more to do, huge progress has been made on this front since I started 3D printing back in 2014.

So I guess I'm asking maybe next time you have some stupid little thing break and the manufacturer doesn't sell that stupid little part ask your weird engineer friend if they can fix it before just tossing it out! 🤣

Alrighty then, I feel better thanks for listening!

What's next up on the replacement parts peeve problem?!

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