MadScientistMatt UltimaDork
2/1/22 12:53 p.m.

So, both my sun visor clips on my Passat broke.

There's a 3D printer at the office, so I thought I might be able to put together a CAD model and try making some replacements over my lunch breaks. But wait - somebody already posted a 3D model that I can download for free! Has the time arrived where a replacement part really is as easy as a free download? Time to find out. First, I'm going to print this with the usual settings I've used for some prototype working around the shop.

Here goes - I'll post the results when they finish printing in an hour or two!

californiamilleghia UltraDork
2/1/22 1:38 p.m.

Interesting , years ago I had a simple plastic injection mold that a mold maker built to make the same part for VW Squarebacks. because he needed them for his car.

This was when 3D printers were $10-20,000 or more !

Ian F (Forum Supporter)
Ian F (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
2/1/22 2:21 p.m.

The technology will definitely keep getting better as materials improve and the ability to print metal parts at home gets more accessible. 

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner MegaDork
2/1/22 2:25 p.m.

We print a few NLA Mazda parts already at work. It's exactly what people were supposed to be doing with 3D printers, not just making little boat models :)

For example, this little booger. It's a wear item on the top latch, and Mazda used a different design for 2003-05 and then discontinued the part. So we print them!

WondrousBread New Reader
2/1/22 2:37 p.m.

I've 3d printed some NLA parts before, it works really well.


Only thing is that PLA plastic can deform from the heat inside the cabin of the car on a hot day. I've used ABS with good success.

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner MegaDork
2/1/22 2:52 p.m.

Yeah, you'd definitely want to stay away from PLA. We use carbon-infused nylon.

MadScientistMatt UltimaDork
2/1/22 3:06 p.m.

Hot off the printer.

These two are printed in PLA - but I can get some other filament once I get a few problems straightened out. The support structures are rather problematic.

Sometimes the supports are completely missing and  I ended up with black spaghetti. Other times the supports did their supporting part well, but now I can't get them out without breaking the part. I either need to do some tinkering with the slicer settings, or see if it will print standing on its tabs.

So far, downloading and printing a part is, well, somewhere before the Napster era in terms of convenience if you're comparing it to music downloads. Getting a basic file is easy enough; printing it takes a bit of fiddling.

stafford1500 Dork
2/1/22 3:12 p.m.

In reply to MadScientistMatt :

You can play with the part orientation to get the supports to break out easier. Spend a little time with you slicer to see what the supports will look like. You may have to print with a brim or raft to get a good solid base that does not wind up with part shift.

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner MegaDork
2/1/22 3:53 p.m.

Trying to assemble an obscure album via Napster is a pretty good analogy :) There's a lot of satisfaction in managing to reproduce a part out of thin air when you get it, though. Some of my most rewarding designs have been ones that fix things.

MadScientistMatt UltimaDork
2/3/22 8:21 a.m.

Need to get some better pictures to replace these potato-tastic ones, but changing the supports met with partial success. This time I printed it vertically. However, one of the tabbed sections didn't print right, even in the support.

Cutting the supports off with a penknife.

Once I did that,  much of the remaining tabs broke off inside the support. Also, the part printed at about 0.3 mm too wide, and also with no draft - meaning it doesn't fit into the other portion of the clip.

I haven't decided where to go from here. Do I adjust the CAD model? Adjust the printer settings with the existing model? Or just go the easy way out and just order some new ones?

This may be a bit too much effort for a pair of $20 parts.


ProDarwin MegaDork
2/3/22 8:48 a.m.
MadScientistMatt said:

So far, downloading and printing a part is, well, somewhere before the Napster era in terms of convenience if you're comparing it to music downloads. Getting a basic file is easy enough; printing it takes a bit of fiddling.

This is the difference between low end hobby-level printers and professional printers :).  Pro printers have been a the 'press a button and walk away' level for 15 years now.  Most of them use supports that don't need to break away.  They dissolve away, or are a flaky material that washes off easily.

That said, I think we are getting closer and closer to the point where 3d printed stuff like this has legitimate usage and even non-creative types will be able to download files and simply print stuff other people have designed.  For now most of the value still lies in prototyping, fixturing, etc.

ABS Material is the most forgiving in my experience, but hobby-level printers have a lot more trouble with it.

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