So how good are they?

The Shed - - 3d printing -

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

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