Plumbing repair with a 3D printer

By 20/05/2013October 12th, 20203D Printing, DIY

Since I manage the meetup group 3D Print Barcelona I spoke quite often with people who ask themselves, and also ask me, what I am doing with my 3d printer.

There is a part of people with an engineer profile that love the process of building their printer and all the challenges they have to face for calibration and other adjustments, not few. but when they finish comes the: And now what?

There is another completely different group. The designers. They only want something that works form the very first day. The printer is only a mean to obtain their designs.

And I am sort of in the middle, learning CAD by myself.

I am bringing today an example that is quite enlightening in regards to the future. DIY to the highest level.


The WC tank is leaking a bit and I finally decide to open it and check what happens. As always whenever you touch something, there is something more.

The rod from the piece that activates the flush is broken. Not a big deal, but I have to repair it now 🙁 . The water leakage is easily solved by cleaning up the lime stocked there.

But the rod repair is quite a challenge.

Varilla rota

It’s broken at the angle, so there is nothing I can do. If I glue them it will not work for long. But, if I make a reinforcement? Let’s get to work!. I open Sketchup (some day I will learn something more powerful…do not miss the Blender session that we will organize) and start sketching.

And by designing I get to this: it’s so simple that it only takes 2 min. I go through all the boring process of getting into NetFabb to place it properly and check for errors or issues, and then Slic3r to generate the g-code file. That’s what the printer understands.

Soporte cadena WCRefuerzo cadena v1
Support WC flush v1

The object gets printed in 6 minutes, so in 10 min I got a perfectly working repair. From the moment I start designing the model to the moment I have it in my hands. Cool, right?

First really useful usage of my printer 🙂

And this is a heads up of what comes for the future. Instead of designing the model you will just download it from a repository!

Then I glued the pieces and waited 24h, to find out that when I mount it I did short of material. I used 2 mm thickness and it was not enough. If anything is needed is the experience to design…but you learn quickly!

The solution

Looking at the forces that the piece has to stand in the angle, I decide to do it properly, with additional reinforcement.

And in v2 version I got this. A sort of capsule that fits with the piece:

Soporte cadena WC v2

Soporte cadena WC v2

Refuerzo montado

Refuerzo montado

It looks good 🙂

Final result. You can see that I missed some millimeters decimals to contact the vertical piece, and that’s why I did not post it in Thingiverse or similar.

WC reparado!

WC reparado!

By the way Thingiverse is the most known repository of 3d models, but it is from the Makerbot printer.

In Spain, we have a repository fully open: Rascomras.

And now, whenever I flush the toilet I remember and feel proud of my small DIY 🙂

As Chris Anderson says in “Makers” and others, we are all potential makers.

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