Many of us have been in that situation of using a product and it breaks, not through misuse, but occasionally through design flaws. Rather than replace the whole product, you DIY the fix. Recently our Ryobi line trimmer (whipper snipper) was an example of this, where the plastic throttle mechanism snapped.
After a quick search online it doesn’t seem that Ryobi makes it particularly easy to find replacement parts, I assume to make additional sales, which I wasn’t about to do, given the throttle was a couple of dollars at best.
After removing about a dozen screws from the handle, it came apart, revealing the throttle mechanism that includes 2 springs and 2 pieces of plastic that work together to create a safety release before it will activate.
The broken throttle piece was easy to remove but then I needed a replacement. I looked online and sure enough, I wasn’t the first person to experience this, as some enterprising characters are selling replacements for a few dollars online, but delivery would have taken a couple of weeks.
Being impatient and looking for reasons to use the 3D Printer I got for my 40th birthday, I set about finding the 3D print file (STL) for this part. After a few minutes of searching, I found it. Immediately I noticed it was not simply a 1-for-1 replacement for the factory part, but the 3D printing community had actually improved the part to be stronger and avoid breaking in the future.. smart.
After a quick download, I imported the file into Creality’s Slicer utility. This allowed me to create support for the print and use some trial and error in the settings to get an estimated print time. I didn’t need this to be the best-looking print, just functional, so set the resolution to medium, leaving the print time around 3 hours.
After a quick transfer to the Ender 3 with a microSD card, I started the print and 3 hours later it was done. My first attempt to insert it into the handle was going well until I pushed down too hard on the mounting point and the print broke in two. Time for some improvements.
Back to Creality Slicer and this time I jumped straight into the advanced settings, and increased the fill % to make the trigger thicker, harder and stronger. Just over 3 hours later, print number two of the part was done.
I was a little more cautious at first but quickly realised this was incredibly dense and strong, and mounting it was simpler the second time round. I quickly screwed the two halves of the handle back together and it was time to try.
Success! The handle now worked again and the 3D printer enabled me to resolve a broken component in just a few hours.
While 3D printing is often about printing fun stuff for your friends and family, there are times like this when I really appreciated having a 3D printer.