So how good are they?
engineering an hour. exercise took less than
The best print option?
I use Google Sketchup as my 3D design software. To print the design, I had to export the file in one of the formats that the 3D-printing services can read. Sketchup has the Collada (DAE) file format as its default and this is acceptable to some providers. Other export file formats can be added from Sketchup’s extensive ‘extension warehouse’ on the web. I have since added the SKL format, which is accepted by all the 3D-printing services I looked at.
Shapeways was recommended to me and its website is pretty impressive. But I’ve since found several other service providers, including some here in New Zealand.
I exported the aerial cover design as a DAE file and uploaded it to the Shapeways website. Almost immediately the system told me that the design was OK to print and offered a whole series of material options. I chose black natural versatile plastic, at a cost of US$4.28 per item, and ordered two. The one drawback is shipping costs. That was more than the cost of the parts. Even so, the total cost was about NZ$30 so it’s not a big deal.
The package arrived about three weeks later. It left the US three days after I ordered it, so most of the delay was at the customs and delivery end here in New Zealand. Out of the box the parts looked almost exactly like the original, except there was no brand name. The surface finish is not smooth, but I quite like the matt finish. Shapeways offers a polished finish as an extra procedure, which I will try next time to see the effect.
I took one of the broken phones apart and gingerly inserted one of the new parts into the slot in the case. It slid effortlessly in and clicked into place — just like a bought one. I was delighted. The second phone was reassembled the same way and the two repaired phones are back in use and looking like new.
I’ve got a kettle with a lid that flips open before the kettle boils because the catch is worn slightly, and an old Bosch orbital sander somewhere in the garage with a broken plastic part that connects the bottom vibrating plate to the motor drive. They’re now going to be fixed.
It slid effortlessly in and clicked into place — just like a bought one