Vintage Print Processor Fixed With 3D Printing

If you don’t know what a print processor is, don’t feel bad. There’s precious few people out there still running home darkrooms, and the equipment used for DIY film development is about as niche as it gets today. For those looking to put together their own darkroom in 2019, buying second hand hardware and figuring out how to fix it on your own is the name of the game, as [Austin Robert Hermann] found out when he recently purchased a Durst Printo Print Processor on eBay.

The auction said the hardware was in working order, but despite the fact that nobody would ever lie on the Internet, it ended up being in quite poor condition. Many of the gears in the machine were broken, and some were simply missing. The company no longer supports these 1990’s era machines, and the replacement parts available online were predictably expensive. [Austin] determined his best course of action was to try his hand at modeling the necessary gears and having them 3D printed; two things he had no previous experience with.

Luckily for [Austin], many of the gears in the Printo appeared to be identical. That meant he had several intact examples to base his 3D models on, and with some educated guesses, was able to determine what the missing gears would have looked like. Coming from an animation background, he ended up using Cinema 4D to model his replacement parts; which certainly wouldn’t have been our first choice, but there’s something to be said for using what you’re comfortable with. Software selection not withstanding, he was able to produce some valid STLs which he had printed locally in PLA using an online service.

Interestingly, this is a story we’ve seen play out several times already. Gears break and wear down, and for vintage hardware, that can be a serious problem. But if you’ve got a couple intact gears to go by, producing replacements even on an entry level desktop 3D printer is now a viable option to keep these classic machines running.

13 thoughts on “Vintage Print Processor Fixed With 3D Printing

  1. I can appreciate that Cinema 4D would not be your first choice for animating, but suspect readers might better appreciate knowing what that first choice actually would be. Why so secretive?

    1. Fusion 360 is the current favorite in the maker community, OpenSCAD if you want to go fully parametric (and FOSS), or FreeCAD if a more traditional CAD package sounds right but you want to stick with FOSS.

    2. There’s no animation. Austin was using Cinema as if it was a CAD program, which is kind of unheard of. It’s not meant to be used that way, hence the surprise.

      As for what you _should_ use, that’s basically a Holy War and HAD comments already complain if one particular package is pushed over another. But the right answer in this case is literally “any of them”, since again, the guy was using something really out of left field.

        1. Being the better tool for the job simply depends on the size of the hole you’re digging. For example, if you’re potting a plant, it’s much better than even the smallest shovel.

  2. Apparently Austin is opposed to just opening up a claim with pay pal? Selling something as functional when it has missing, badly worn, and broken parts is against eBays policy. He should have had no issues getting the seller to refund his $$ and pay return shipping. This is not just the right thing to do for yourself, but for the community as a while. We do not need a lot of sleazy sellers on eBay. I don’t want to run into them, you don’t want you to run into them, and even eBay does not want yo to run into them. Please don’t drag their name into things until you have unsuccessfully tired to effect some kind of satisfaction from the tools they have available.

    1. We don’t know whether he made a claim, or not, just that he ended up with the broken unit.

      It’s not surprising that the seller would rather not pay return shipping. Nor is it surprising that someone would want to keep and fix the broken unit after having their money refunded, particularly since these things don’t seem easy to come-by — a quick search on ebay doesn’t show any currently available, or recently sold.

      1. True, but in either case it is not right leaving people with the insinuation that eBay did not stand up for him. or eBay is some how behind people selling junk as working devices. Unless they did not fix the situation to his satisfaction, he should have left their name out of the fray. They have policies and procedures for this type of thing, and they have always stood behind me as a buyer.

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