My wife and daughter planted a little summer garden recently. This little garden in large parts is surrounded by some tall green metal wire frames for providing support to growing plants and provides some minor protection against very large animals and small children. The wire frame support kit, as you might imagine, came with the exact number of the little plastic clips used to assemble the structure. In it’s third year of use, we finally lost one of those little clips.
And now I had an excuse to bring out my calipers, whip up some OpenSCAD code, and fire up the 3D printer. Admittedly, I spent more time than was reasonably required to over-engineer the result. Since these little clips were going to be in use throughout the summer and be visible the entire time, I wanted a design that would match the originals as closely as possible. After printing out a test piece in black, I printed another forty or so in clear PLA. These new parts look as good and work just as well as the originals and are biodegradable to boot.
It’s a funny thing, living in a post-3D printing world. I certainly don’t want to misplace any of the original plastic clips the wire frame set came with. However, losing a little widget is no longer a cause for alarm, some expensive replacement, or a temporary fix with duct tape/zip tie/twist tie. While duct tape and zip ties have their place, being able to create a permanent fix for a problem is a pretty amazing thing.