Audi gave me a free 3d printer…

Ok, technically it was a birthday gift from my wife, but it ended up on my wish list after a visit to the garage:
A very small pice of plastic had snapped off the handle for the armrest in the rear seat. It was no longer possible to get to the first-aid kit or fold down the armrest.

I asked the garage to order a new plastic handle for me. They got back to me, slightly embarrassed, with the message that it was not possible but that I had to order a new armrest costing more than €330 excluding installation…

4mm very expensive plastic.

At the time Creality was running a €170 offer on their Ender3 printer including shipping. Getting the printer and a kilo of PLA for printing was still way under half the price of replacing the armrest. Material costs for printing a new handle where around €0,44 or 1/1000 of having the problem fixed by Audi.

More or less the same story with my next project; the buckle had broken on my big “studio” camera bag. Had been by the camera shop, searched the internet and tried the maker of the bag. No luck, the buckle could not be ordered even though it’s a camera bag costing more than the printer.

I obviously wasn’t the only one with that problem. I found the buckle on so I didn’t have to make a 3d model myself. The new buckle printed in PLA might not last as long as the original one in ABS but with a material cost around €0,24 I might just leave a spare in the bag.

How many things are being discarded every year because they can’t be repaired as a result of manufacturers not offering parts and/or service manuals? And how much is it affecting the environment?

It’s all well and fine that I can make my own 3d models to fix stuff, but most people can’t. Manufacturers not offering the parts as spares should be obliged to share the CAD models (and the service manuals while we are at it) – both during and after they have stopped production.

Many parts can be found on and other sites, but what about copyrights and patents when the models are being shared?

More about the right to repair in EU :)