Ikea is well-known as a manufacturer of cheap flat-pack furniture. However, finding Ikea replacement parts can be a pain. Follow along as we show you how to use a 3D printer to solve your furniture fixing woes.
One of the most practical uses of 3D printing is the ability to make replacement parts for household objects.
If you’ve ever gone to Ikea, you’ll know the pain and discomfort of assembling a bookshelf only to realize at the last moment that you’re missing a critical piece to put it all together. Or maybe you break or lose a small but necessary piece in a complicated move.
While these frustrating predicaments can be fixed by requesting replacement parts from Ikea, a quicker (and more fun) solution may be to simply 3D print whatever parts you need.
For this, you’ll need to consider a few things:
Follow along as we explain each of the above and help you on your way to printing your very own Ikea replacement parts!
Many different parts from Ikea can be printed so we’ll break them down in major categories, listed from the easiest to print to the hardest.
These parts tend to be extremely small, meaning they are often lost or broken during the initial build of Ikea furniture. These parts can generally be printed quickly and require very little alteration.
Although these larger parts tend to not be as fragile or prone to breakage as the fasteners and small parts, there are still reasons to 3D print them. For instance, these parts could use adjustment to fit into strange spaces, or they could be customized to reflect a personal design.
Ikea has gone so far as to try to make their furniture more accessible to customers with disabilities. Thisables is a website that shows off Ikea furniture add-ons for accessibility. These objects, while still very helpful, tend to be larger and more complex to print.
There are several places where Ikea models can be found:
While there are many standard parts that have existing CAD files uploaded online for easy 3D printing, this may not be the case for all parts. Therefore, a 3D scanner can be a useful addition to be able to replicate parts you need at a moment’s notice.
Generally speaking, there are two types of 3D scanner: freehand scanners for larger objects, and scanners with a stationary sensor and a turntable for smaller objects. Either one of these scanners will work for scanning Ikea parts, however, the turntable scanners tend to be easier to use and are better at catching smaller details.
Most scanned objects don’t match the exact dimensions of the original part design due to physical scanning limitations and tolerances on parts. This means that, when you scan an object, you’re getting a 3D model that’s an approximation of a part. For example, if you scan a meter stick, you may actually end up with a scan that’s not exactly one meter in length.
Therefore, when scanning an object, you may need to adjust the dimensions slightly to what the part size should be to compensate for this variability. Oftentimes, this is easy to figure out since part designers typically make parts in common increments (e.g. 1 in, 1.5 in, 1 mm, 1.5 mm).
While it isn’t impossible to see something that’s exactly 1.625 mm in length, this would be excessively difficult to mass-produce and therefore doesn’t happen very often.
When it comes to 3D modeling your own Ikea parts, you might be thinking you don’t know where to start. Luckily, there are online communities of people willing to help you with your project and with whom you can figure out how to start.
Once you feel comfortable using 3D modeling software, you’ll need a few measuring tools. Most importantly, you’ll need a pair of calipers to accurately capture small dimensions. A digital protractor would also be useful for measuring angles. Most importantly, you’ll need to have a basic knowledge of tolerancing, which we’ve detailed below.
Naturally, the more complex the object, the more modeling experience counts for something.
When it comes to tolerances, there are some general rules that will help you when designing your part.
When it comes to 3D printing replacement parts, there are three main things to consider before starting your print.
First, you need to choose an appropriate material to use for your 3D printed replacement part. While many parts will work with common materials like PLA, ABS, and PETG, others offer greater strength, flexibility or a variety of other specifications that may better suit your application.
The second aspect you should consider is your part’s orientation during printing. It’s well-known that 3D prints typically fail perpendicular to the layers, due to layer adhesion being the weakest part of a plastic part. Therefore, it’s advantageous to print parts that take loads parallel to the layers if possible, to obtain maximum strength.
Finally, the last aspect you should consider is whether or not 3D printing a particular part is even worth it. For example, most replacement Ikea parts contain small pieces that may need to be injection molded or made of metal in order to have sufficient strength.
Oftentimes, small screws and fasteners are inexpensive and accessible enough that purchasing them directly may be a better option. In addition, 3D printing small threads doesn’t give great results.
(Lead image source: pymnts.com)
License: The text of "Ikea Replacement Parts: How to Design & 3D Print Them" by All3DP is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
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