Repairing a toy using 3d modelling and 3d printing

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Hi ! Today I’d like to tell you how I repaired one of my kid’s toys. It’s a good example of what can be done with 3d modelling and 3d printing, and how they can be used to save objects and devices that you would otherwise throw in the dustbin.

At DreamCraft, we have a lot of 3d printing requests. People want to 3d-print pieces of objects that are broken, objects that do not exist, or prototypes. We help them with 3d modelling and 3d printing.

One of the latest requests I have comes from my son Jason 🙂 His Batman motorbike has a problem with its windshield that does not connect to the rest of the toy anymore. I’ve been working on a object that connects the 2 parts. This post tells how I did it.

 

Batman’s broken windshield

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As you can see one these photos, the part of the motorbike attaching the windshield got worn and couldn’t hold the other piece anymore.

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The windshield itself got a bit worn but its connecting parts can still be used for gluing.

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However, because of the wear, both parts cannot be glued directly together. There should be a go-between part that would nicely adapt to the 2 worn connections.

 

Conceiving the go-between part

I understood the missing part would a be a bit tricky to conceive because it doesn’t have an straight base. The side that would connect to the motorbike isn’t flat, but round.

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So to evaluate the roundness of the base’s underside, I needed some kind of molding. Jason’s school gave me a small piece of modelling clay. I used it to create a test for the go-between part.

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With that I got a general idea of what the additional part would look like. It also helped me to get a rough estimate on the roundness of the underside of the base. Here’s the modelling clay piece on the motorbike.

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The next step was to take measures. This photo shows the modelling clay piece once I removed it from the motorbike. being able to hold the piece in my hand and turn it around helped me take exact measures.

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Since I model for 3d printing, I have noticed the measuring step is the longest. First, because when you want match a new object with an existing one, you need to be very accurate. Then, when the obect you measure has some roundnesses, holes or bumps, it’s laborious to evaluate.

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Hopefully, my friend Bruno has a very nice ruler that does the measuring job easier. This tool, called “vernier caliper” or “pied Ă  coulisse” can measure Inside holes and between excrescences. I think it’s a must have when you create 3d models that are destined to become real life objects.

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The next step was to create some sketches in order to specify more what I needed to model. I wrote down the measurements I took on the sketches.

 

Modelling the go-between part

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As usual with any polygonal modelling, I start with a low polygonal face count creation.

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Then I create a linked subdivided object that still reflects the changes I do on the base low poly mesh. That’s very easy to do with the defunct Softimage application.

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More polygon faces means a more accurate 3D printing. So here is the front of the piece I’m going to print.

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And here is the back. A little mistake I made was to model it too long vertically. I wanted to make sure the horizontal part of this piece wouldn’t be in the way of the 2 windshield fastenings on the motorbike so I ended up with a too long “trunk” on the go-between. But anyway it was well put together at the end.

 

3d printing

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Here are some photos of the new object being printed.

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The 3d printing was done at NavLab.

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In the following photo, the printer just finished its work.

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Front and back view of the final printed piece.

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Gluing the pieces together

The plastic was printed in grey as we were out of blue plastic at that time.

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In this step, my friend Bruno is painting the go-between piece in black so that it merges well with the main motorbike body.

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And here is the painted piece.

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Now we put some extra-strong glue on the go-between piece.

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Drumrolls…

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And voilĂ ! It’s a satisfying feeling when you see that the object you model in virtual space adapts perfectly to a real life item.

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Now let’s add some glue on the windshiled.

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Here we put the windshield on the go-between part.

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And we let the glue dry overnight with the bike in the best orientation for the 2 pièces to stick.

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Result

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So here is the final result with all pièces put together. Kid happy : mission accomplished! 🙂

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As you can see, the process is fairly quick and easy. In less than half a day of work, it is possible to bring back to life toys, electrical households, or any kind of device.

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