Repairs You Can Print: Nintendo 3DS XL Lives Again!

Handheld game consoles have a hard life, and even the most well-built models can sometimes fail. The Nintendo 3DS XL, for example, can fail at its hinge, which is what happened to the one owned by [Mark]. Would he fix the hinge? No, he had a far simpler if a little less flexible solution, a 3D-printed bracket that clips over the whole device.

Sometimes the best pieces of work are also the simplest ones, and this one certainly fits that bill on both counts. When your console dies, you want it fixed, and though this doesn’t extend as far as providing a working hinge action it should allow you to play without further damaging anything. It’s not impossible to imagine that it could be made to incorporate a flexible zig-zag section to produce a closeable hinge, but if your Nintendo is broken you’ll care little for such niceties. The project can be downloaded from its Thingiverse page.

A common failure that we’d expect to accompany a broken hinge would be a faulty flexible ribbon cable. Fortunately, those are fixable on the 3DS, too.

18 thoughts on “Repairs You Can Print: Nintendo 3DS XL Lives Again!

  1. I’ve done a hinge repair for my daughter’s 3DS XL. The hinge is definitely a weak point: the case has to take a huge amount of stress to hold the metal cam inside. I tried two different types of plastic glue/cement to reassemble it. Neither worked, and it cracked again after a few openings.

    Eventually I buckled and ordered a new lower face instead : )

    I, too, broke the ribbon cable leading to the shoulder button. I couldn’t get any solder to stick to it, because the kapton (?) backer is essentially heatproof. What I ended up doing is getting out a pair of scissors, trimming the tape down so about 1/4″ of each lead was exposed. Then, using a razor blade, I carefully shaved the coating off one side of the trace and exposed the bare metal. Then I was able to solder them back together, and coat the repair in superglue so they wouldn’t come apart again.

    This same technique came in handy to repair a busted ribbon cable on a $500 DSLR camera lens!

  2. Could I mildly suggest 3D printing is ubiquitous enough to be nudging the “not-a-hack” category? Don’t get me wrong, I think it is a brilliant tool but it’s about time that it shouldn’t rate a Hackaday post unless it’s truly off the wall like… 3D printing beer. Or 3D printing a 555.

    I mean, you wouldn’t post an article like, “Fixing Broken Chair with Srewdriver”.

    1. The idea of fixing something by not fixing it was the point of the hack… mostly true. I’ve talked to a lot of people about 3D printing. The replies vary from “Meh..”, to “Wow, I thought it was only something like CSI labs had!”.

  3. The NDS Lite was also a bugger for hinge-snapping.

    It’s otherwise one of my favorite handhelds ever – and my first introduction to ARM – but jeez, I have like a half-dozen replacement shells hoarded for that exact problem.

    Speaking of, you can usually order injection-molded replacement shells for these sorts of things from the usual sources. They aren’t made of Nintendium, but they’re usually solid/accurate enough.

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