You’d rather not be part of our throwaway culture, but what choice do you have? When that perfect piece of rolling luggage you’ve used for years suddenly loses a wheel and you find there’s no replacement part, into the trash it goes.
Whether it’s your favorite coffeemaker or your always-dependable vacuum cleaner, you’re likely to find that the manufacturer stopped making the part, never made the part or it costs more to replace the part than it would to buy a new device.
For too long, that was by design or because of economics — and research by the Öko-Institut in Germany shows that the product life span of consumer goods is indeed getting shorter. The proportion of large household appliances replaced within less than five years due to a defect increased to 8.3 percent in 2013 from 3.5 percent in 2004.
Now, 3D printing technology is poised to change all that.
For its recent Dare to Repair contest, HP partnered with iFixit, an online repair community. Together they called on tinkerers, makers and fixers everywhere to develop, model and 3D-print a replacement part for a common consumer product.
The goal: to spotlight how anyone can come up with practical fixes for everyday breakdowns — while showcasing how cutting-edge 3D printing can help.