2017-08-30 (W) Replacement Stool Foot COMPLETED

3D printed parts are rarely known for their durability. There is a notable exception in this YouTube video. Toys on the other hand should be durable and laser tag parts should be able to take a beating. This post explores the possibilities of using 3D printed parts as durable plastic parts.

Enough background.

As far as simple projects go this is one of the simplest. It was hardly worth writing a journal entry for but it is a wonderful examples of how 3D printers are useful tools as opposed to bauble makers.

When people find out they can use computer code to produce something in the real world it is natural to want to make something showy or flashy. I understand that desire but it kind of diminishes the utility of a 3D printer. Lots of research and testing has been done to produce rugged plastic pieces and those will someday be a legitimate source of replacement parts. I imagine an automotive supply store will someday have similarities to a Kinko’s where replacement parts will be made to order on-site and installed on a schedule.

During my last move, a plastic foot from a stool was lost and no hardware store carried a suitable replacement. I could have replaced all the feet with ill-fitting round rubber feet or given them all tennis balls. But there were two stools and that’s a lot of work for a single missing foot that should cost $0.50. Instead, I took measurements and made a suitable model that would sit in the stool leg and look like the original foot. It was modeled differently than the OEM feet but the visible parts were indistinguishable.

The process of creating this part wasn’t the important thing, the utility of a 3D printer was the point. This is a good time to mention that the replacement part was not an exact replica. The original, probably produced with injection molding, had thin horizontal wings to hold it inside the stool leg. 3D printing makes this sort of shape difficult to reproduce without wasting plastic in support material. In the model these wings were replaced with vertical walls which provided the friction against the inside of the stool leg.

Rotating model of stool foot

Original foot on left, 3D printed foot on right

Author's note: This stool foot was installed over a year ago but this was never published. After rediscovering this post, it occurred to me that this foot has been in use for a whole year without anyone realizing it was not original. This is also a testament to the 3D printed laser tag parts which are about to be tested under equally brutal conditions.

The rest of the posts for this project have been arranged by date.

First time here?

Completed projects from year 1.

Completed projects from year 2.

Completed projects from year 3.

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2016-07-24 (Su)