Using Makerbot For Dishwasher Repair

[Daryll Strauss’] dishwasher had some problems that he traced to a worn out part on the upper spinning arm. The hackerspace he belongs to has a Makerbot and he though this would be the perfect opportunity to print his own replacement part. He picked up some inexpensive digital calipers and set to work mapping out the dimensions of the broken piece. He took his hand-drawn cross section and built a replica part in Blender. Once he had it just right he generated the g-code and printed the part. His replacement works very well, and it’s a bit thicker (by design) than the original so hopefully that means it will hold up longer.

30 thoughts on “Using Makerbot For Dishwasher Repair

  1. 10/10 for ingenuity, and yet another application for makerbots.

    wonder if you could extrude an extruder mask out of HDPE etc then electroplate into it(might take a while) a custom nozzle then remove the mask. No nasty drilling and tapers etc plus gripping rings and custom mouldings for sensors and the nichrome wire become a one step operation.

    hope this helps people :-)

  2. Very cool. Sometimes it’s very difficult or even impossible to find repair parts like this, especially for an older machine. I’d much rather buy a makerbot than a new dishwasher!

  3. It’s probably the dishwasher thing, but this reminds me of the time I repaired my mother in law’s dishwasher. The pivot for the upper arm had broken in half, and I noticed it was a weak, thin and cheap plastic part. It also happened to be conveniently hollow. So not wanting to spring for a new weak, thin and cheap plastic part, I put it back together using superglue and then pit a steel rod down the center and completely filled the rest with epoxy putty. Overkill? Yes, but it will never, ever break again.

  4. Considering how much you are usually charged in order to replace tiny plastic parts, I think this is a pretty good idea.

    In most cases, you wouldn’t be able to get exactly the tiny spare part you need anyway.

  5. i suspect more then a few of the plastic parts in various such machines are made to break after warranty but before some move expensive component breaks. A mix between a fuse and planned obsolescence.

    this then helps the capitalist system churning.

  6. @Kieth: my dishwasher goes upto 80 degrees celcius, well below the meltingpoint on the plastics used for this. so i think he well be fine. and if it happnes to wear out in a year or so, no problemen …. print it again!

  7. @osgeld I used to ask a motorhead friend of mine why he spent $200 on tools and parts to do something he could have done for $80 at the local mechanics. His reply: The extra $120 gave him tools to do similar jobs for himself or others in the future. A man without tools is not a man.

  8. This is great, it means now he can replace this or similar parts any time he likes, gets the experience and has the fun of doing it great! Now if only you could print in metal.

  9. Just a quick cost note: as he’s already got the makerbot (or reprap, or some similar machine that’s running on non-name-brand RP-specific materials), that part probably cost him 30 cents at most. (That’s based on cost from makerbot for filament, and a ten-cent leeway for electrical power – it looks like it’s less than 10cm^3 of plastic.) I’m not sure most people could get /to and from/ the appliance repair shop for much less, let alone get your part (say, 3 miles each way, 40MPG, and $2.50USD/gallon.)

  10. i have mixed feelings. osgeld has a good point, especially if you have the skill set to get to the part in the first place, then go get a replacement part and make the repair. on the other hand, if you have the skill set to MAKE the part needed, I would go ahead and get an old junk dishwasher, take it apart and replace ALL the parts i could with the maker bot, just for the hell of it. reassemble it and see if it worked. but i overkill everything.

  11. Those who say “why spend $$ on makerbot when you can buy the part cheaper” or “if you have skill set to make part” need to read Daryl’s post.

    He tried several times to get the part but the service people kept getting the wrong one. He doesnt own/buy a makerbot – he is a member of CrashSpace (Los Angeles), which does. He didnt have the skill set to design and build the part when he started – he read the wiki’s and learned the skills he needed. THEN HE DOCUMENTED IT for the rest of us. Of course he also had a few failures along the way – thats part of learning.

    If he doesnt like the quality of the Makerbot build, the design is now in STL format, so he can send it to Shapeways and have them make one out of gold plated stainless steel.

    Great job Daryl!!

  12. That is a tricky part to model for a beginner. Good work either way. This sparks the dream of desktop manufacturing. Instead of buying that 40 dollar piece of crap part, just go to the local torrent or registry of reverse engineered parts by people that have had this problem before and PRESTO. New pricey parts on your desk in under an hour.

  13. Looking at this, the first thing I thought was the $5 I dropped last week on a package of “Stirling plungers” which are little plastic pegs that hold a window in place. Plus the gas to get to the hardware store, plus the 45 minutes it took to get it.

    and that was easy to find.

    So in just running a home, does stuff like that happen 100 times in a year? I’m asking myself, how long does a makerbot take to pay for itself? I’m thinking a few years anyways.

    Now above, cliff was talking about his friend that repaired dishwashers for a living. Bingo. Maybe not as a consumer product but as a small business product this thing could be a goldmine. Put makerbot parts into customer repairs and (assuming their durable enough) cut your repair costs as well as your turnaround times down to the floor.

  14. Cool…Although the legit part may have been better, here’s what I haven’t seen anyone else say yet;

    Someone finally used one of these countertop rapid prototypers for something USEFUL! Sure, we see people using them for POC’s and prototyping small parts all the time, but this guy made a working, drop-in replacement part with one! This is what these things should be used more for, making parts that are no longer made/prohibitively expensive. Props to hackaday for posting this one…

  15. @frits
    if you don’t rinse first then modern dishwashers when only used fully loaded are more economical than washing up in a bowl!

    I’m still not convinced of this MAKERbot tech, it looks ropey to me. Couldn’t you spin a much higher quality part out on a lathe just as quick?
    I know big lathes cost big bucks but this is a tiny plastic thing and could be made on the cheapest hobby lathe

  16. I’m seconding leafy. This could have been turned out on a hobby lathe in a few minutes, with the dimensions taken from the part on the fly. My personal preference with stuff like this is to use a blank of wax, and make a mold, then cast epoxy into it to make the part. Ya get a great surface finish that way, as the wax is really easy to cut and polish, and the epoxy is as smooth as the mold. I suppose ya could use the makerbot to swing a dremel with a router bit into the wax…

  17. Wow! The first useful thing to come out of a Makerbot. Makerbots are so useless. Not to mention all the Makers out there assembling the Makerbots don’t know ANYTHING about the actual MC’s they’re using to control them. I’d ask them what they’re using and they would all tell me “I’m using the Arduino hurrr durrr.” and I’d be all like “What chip dumbA$$?”
    I’d say a good 80% didn’t know, sheep in a field…

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