3D Printed Zipper Saves the Day!

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[Amr] recently built a 3D printer and came across his first practical application for it — his jacket’s zipper broke!

What we like about this project is [Amr] goes through the entire design process to finished product in his video. He starts by showing us the failed zipper, explaining where and why it failed, and then identifies the design features he needs to keep in order to make a functional replacement. To help accomplish this he checks out the Wikipedia article on zippers which shows an excellent animation of what happens inside of the zipper.

Now confident in his knowledge of all things zipper, he begins to model his replacement using SolidWorks, which is an industry standard among 3D CAD packages — for more information on how to use SolidWorks, we’ve been covering it in our 3D Printering articles!

Once satisfied with his 3D model, he tries to print it, but since it’s so small it pops off the bed mid-print. He adds a brim feature to the part and then it prints perfectly, in just over 30 minutes. We’re not sure if it was his first design iteration, but the zipper works on his jacket first try!

Of course we know he could have gone into town and bought a replacement zipper — but where’s the fun in that? Have you ever repaired something trivial just because? Let us know in the comments!

20 thoughts on “3D Printed Zipper Saves the Day!

  1. So a aluminum pull broke and he thought it would be a good idea to replace it with a ABS/PLA one? This seems like a exercise in futility because this is just going to break in a couple weeks.

    1. Now that the model is proven, he could send the model off to Shapeways and get a much more durable brass/steel version made at a pretty low cost. This may not be the best example since you could (theoretically) just find an actual replacement zipper pull somewhere, but the concept is definitely not useless.

      1. low cost? like $30 bucks a zip? haven’t seen anything “low cost” on that site. An actual replacement would be less than shipping.

      2. That would be pointless, you could just buy another zipper from a fabric store, and harvest the component from that. Why would you bother getting your own machined.

  2. What I want to know is how do you slide the zipper onto the Jacket? Most jackets have a stop that will prevent the zipper from sliding out completely…

    1. Me too. I have thought that such a repair would require removing the crimped top stops or a two part slider that could be assembled around the zipper.

    2. There was indeed a plastic stop at the top of the zipper. All I did was cut off enough of the plastic with a pair of wire cutters to allow me to slide the new zip through.

    3. Real replacements are slightly bent open when you get them so that you can put them on anywhere along the length. Then you just squeeze it shut with a pair of pliers and run it back and forth a few times to get everything back to normal. I used to work in the bag/wallet business so I’ve replaced more of them than I care to count.

      If you have old zippers that are starting to split open on you, a quick squeeze with pliers will usually rectify that problem. Just an FYI.

  3. Well done! This was just a way to play around with a printer. If you really wanted to save the coat you would have just used the other zip that is on the same zipper. Just flip it around.

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