May 2017 – Nylon turn signal clip 3D printed and installed

Pretty much, the Youtube video does the trick.

I do think that the process of 3D printing will become increasingly important for parts distribution and replacement. There’s no wonder that UPS has taken big steps to integrate 3D printing into their business, since, after all, they’re into logistics. And logistics can benefit from the speed of digital distribution, so long as the products get made at the endpoint. And the ability to craft parts that are no longer available for old cars will be a boon to the amateur restorer. Right now, only plastic parts are do-able, though the 3D printing field is advancing very quickly, so other media may become more affordable to use in the near future. It’d be great to be able to do metal objects as easily as plastic objects.

I expect that I’ll be doing other 3D printing projects, perhaps to create molds for my little modest aluminum castings. Plastic parts, like the one I did for this fix, are relatively easy. And, for the next guy, it’s really just a matter of downloading a 3D model, and finding a place to print it. (Maybe that’s as close as your local library!)

By the way, my 3D model of the turn signal clip is freely available from Thingiverse: https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:2250956

The video:


 

Sketchup is a free download (sketchup.com), and if you’re serious about 3D modeling, you can purchase the professional version. For my part, I just used the regular old free version, and it worked great. A very useful Sketchup plugin was “Solid Inspector” that allows you to identify and even automatically fix (sometimes) extraneous lines and surfaces in your model. Those extra things get in the way of having a clean and uninterrupted surface. And if you don’t have a clean surface, you can’t create a model of a solid object. That sounds a bit difficult to understand, but Sketchup just allows you to create surfaces, and in order to have a solid, you have to use the surfaces to enclose an area completely. Sketchup then can calculate a volume. You can then use the tools for your printer to convert the model into something that the 3D printer can use.

For printing, I used 3DPrinterOS (3dprinteros.com), which has partnered with Duke University. It’s amazingly simple to use. I had no instruction on how to use the tools, and yet I was able to printer my part in PLA (polylactic acid) with only one failed attempt. (See links below for more information on where you might be able to get access to 3D printing services. They might be as close as your local library.)

The nylon part that I printed fit in perfectly, though the little arms were a bit too loose to hold the turn signal post firmly in place. I think I might try reprinting the piece in ABS if the thing becomes too annoying (unlikely, since it’s working all right, if not optimally, and nylon is pretty durable).

If anyone else ventures into 3D printing for parts, I’d like to hear about it.

Some links relating to 3D printing:

Thingiverse (thingiverse.com) where you can find 3D models of all kinds to explore and print. (My turn signal clip is there, too.)

UPS’s involvement, and maybe there’s a place near you: https://www.theupsstore.com/print/3d-printing

Five Best 3D Printing Services” (lifehacker.com) A surprise: your local library might let you do 3D printing

Duke is leading the way among universities in the democratization of 3D printing: “Duke University Churns Out Thousands of 3D Prints per Month with Help from 3DPrinterOS” (3dprint.com). I’m very much indebted to the good and talented staff that support the really impressing 3D printing setup that Duke has pulled together.