Thinking outside of the box when it comes to your skills and tools can be fun and save your company a lot of time.
What to do when a part breaks around the office? Why, just reverse engineer and 3D print a new one of course!
Our retractable marketing banners can take a serious beating being transported from event to event, and the latest casualty was a plastic support which holds up the banner itself. We started discussingour options for getting a replacement when it dawned on us – why not just print a new one?
The first step was to reverse engineer the original by taking measurements using digital calipers.
This gave me all the information I needed to duplicate the design, at least to a respectable degree. I added some thickness to the O.D. and to the vertical rib attaching the support, as well as adding some fillets to help transfer the stress to the rod attachment. But was it enough? Would it really be any better?
|For the answer, I turned to SOLIDWORKS Simulation! I picked up a spring scale on the cheap and used it to measure the force the retractable banner would subject my support to under normal conditions.||
With my operating conditions established, I put my solid model to the test. I applied the downward force measured from the spring scale to the top ridge of the holder and fixed my inner diameter face.
The end result was a FOS greater than 2, which was deemed acceptable. Off to the 3D printer it goes!
We printed the part out of ABS using a Stratasys FORTUS 3D printer that we just happened to have lying around. The result was clean and took only a few hours to complete. Still quicker than waiting for a replacement to ship!
The moment of truth had arrived! We broke out the retractable banner and put our freshly minted support in place. Success! Just goes to show what can be accomplished in short order when you put an engineer in a room with the right tools!