Case Study - Using digital scanning and 3D printing to repair consumer goods
A student in the Selkirk College Design for Digital Manufacturing Program (DFAM) needed to replace a broken part on his treadmill. Rather than replace the entire assembly, he was able to use digital scanning and 3D printing to replace the hard-to-find part. In the process he was able to improve the design of the original part, save money, and extend the useful life of the original equipment.
Reduce cost of replacement parts.
Create replacements when parts are unavailable.
Opportunity to improve design and performance to eliminate future failures.
Reduce environmental impact by replacing parts instead of discarding assemblies.
When old pieces of equipment fail it can be hard to find replacement parts. When they can be found they are often prohibitively expensive, particularly when the equipment is old or manufactured overseas.
Digby Benner, a student in the Selkirk College Design for Digital Manufacturing (DFAM) program, had a broken part from a treadmill and he was having trouble finding a replacement part. When he did find a potential replacement it was prohibitively expensive, especially considering the small size and simplicity of the design. A part of the DFAM program, Digby was able to access digital scanning and 3D printing technology to create a replacement part which was better than the original.
Digby was trying to replace a bracket which was designed to hold a tablet computer on a treadmill. The main supporting piece for the bracket broke while the user was adjusting the angle of the holder. The part was made from high-impact polystyrene (HIPS) and metal, and the failure occurred along the joint between the two materials. Digby tried to find a replacement part but it was unavailable to purchase individually, and it was challenging to find a replacement for the whole bracket assembly. Digby was also concerned that this part would fail again in the long term if replaced with the same piece. Digby decided to put his skills to work to create his own solution.
In the digital manufacturing program at Selkirk College Digby was learning how to use digital scanning and reverse engineering to improve existing parts, so he put his skills to the test. Digby started by using a Creaform 3D scanner to convert the part to a digital file. This file was uploaded to a Computer Automated Design (CAD) program, where the design could be edited and improved. In the CAD program Digby redesigned the part to a version that would be simpler and less prone to failing. The new design eliminated the piece of metal in the part asembly, and made the part thicker to reinforce the part and maintain the required dimensions. The piece of metal could be eliminated because the nylon material he planned to fabricate the part with is much stronger than the original HIPS plastic. Also, the 3D printing process allowed a significant variance in the thickness of different areas of the part, which could not be accomplished with the original injection molding process.
A prototype was quickly made with a desktop Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) 3D printer, after which a few alterations were made to improve the fit and function. The final design required a stronger material and more precision than the FDM printer could provide, so the files were sent to Tempus 3D for fabrication. Nylon PA 12 as the material because it is a robust, all-purpose plastic which is biocompatible and resistant to moisture and chemicals. Multi Jet Fusion was used as the 3D printing technology because it’s powder-bed fusion printing process produces parts which are strong across all dimensions, and provides a level of accuracy comparable to injection molding.
The combination of an upgraded part design and industrial-grade plastic resulted in a part much stronger than the original plastic-and metal-design. Paul was able to save time and money while improving the part design and minimizing unnecessary waste.
Tempus 3D - Supporting Students and Innovators
The team at Tempus 3D was happy to support a student to accomplish his design and development goals by providing access to advanced manufacturing technology. Tempus 3D is proud to collaborate with Selkirk College and the DFAM Program to provide their students with access to industry-leading additive manufacturing technology, to help build a better future for Canada's youth.
With industry-leading technology and a network of production partners, Tempus 3D is uniquely capable of serving innovators and manufacturers across Canada. With online ordering, the ability to turn around rush orders in as little as 36 hours and cost-effective overnight shipping we can ensure you have the parts you need on-time and on-spec. We at Tempus feel this is just the beginning of what manufacturing will look like in the future; it will be more responsive, more custom, and more local allowing innovators across sectors to bring products to market quicker and in a more environmentally friendly way.
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