The Ultimate Guide to 3D Printing Replacement and Spare Parts

by Christian Behrens-Thomsen on Mar 17, 2023

The Ultimate Guide to 3D Printing Replacement and Spare Parts

In today's fast-paced world, it's not uncommon for gadgets, devices, or machinery to break down or wear out. Finding a replacement part can sometimes be a difficult and expensive process. Thankfully, 3D printing has emerged as a convenient and cost-effective solution for creating replacement and spare parts. In this comprehensive guide, we'll explore how 3D printing can be used to create replacement parts and spare parts. We'll cover everything from the benefits of using 3D printing for spare parts to the different types of 3D printers and materials available.

  1. Benefits of 3D Printing Replacement and Spare Parts

There are several benefits to using 3D printing for creating replacement and spare parts:

a. Cost-effectiveness: 3D printing can be more cost-effective than traditional manufacturing methods, as it requires less material and reduces waste.

b. Customization: 3D printing allows for the creation of custom parts tailored to the specific needs of a device or machinery, ensuring a perfect fit and optimal performance.

c. Speed: Rapid prototyping with 3D printing can significantly reduce the time it takes to produce a replacement part.

d. Sustainability: As 3D printing requires fewer materials and resources than traditional manufacturing methods, it can be a more environmentally friendly option.

  1. Identifying the Right 3D Printer for Your Needs

There are several types of 3D printers available, and it's essential to choose the right one for your specific needs. Here are three popular types of 3D printers:

a. Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM): FDM printers use a plastic filament that is heated and extruded through a nozzle, building the object layer by layer. FDM printers are affordable and easy to use, making them suitable for beginners and hobbyists.

b. Stereolithography (SLA): SLA printers use a laser to cure a liquid resin, creating highly detailed and accurate parts. SLA printers are ideal for creating small, intricate parts or when a smooth surface finish is required.

c. Selective Laser Sintering (SLS): SLS printers use a laser to sinter powdered material, such as nylon or metal, to create durable and functional parts. SLS printers are suitable for producing parts with complex geometries and are often used in industrial applications.

  1. Choosing the Right Material for Your Replacement Part

The material you choose for your 3D printed replacement part is crucial for its functionality and durability. Here are some popular materials for 3D printing spare parts:

a. PLA (Polylactic Acid): PLA is a biodegradable, affordable, and easy-to-print material, making it suitable for non-functional prototypes or decorative parts.

b. ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene): ABS is a strong and durable material, making it ideal for functional parts that need to withstand wear and tear.

c. PETG (Polyethylene Terephthalate Glycol): PETG combines the durability of ABS with the ease of printing of PLA, making it a popular choice for functional parts.

d. Resin: Resin materials are used in SLA printers and offer a high level of detail and smooth surface finish. There are various types of resins available, including those designed for strength and durability.

  1. Designing Your Replacement Part

To 3D print a replacement part, you'll need a digital 3D model of the part. There are several ways to create this model:

a. Design the part from scratch using a 3D modeling software like Tinkercad, Fusion 360, or Blender.

b. Scan an existing part using a 3D scanner, which will create a digital replica of the part that can be edited in 3D modeling software.

c. Find a pre-made 3D model online from websites like Thingiverse, GrabCAD, or MyMiniFactory, where users share their designs. Always make sure to respect intellectual property rights and ensure the model is suitable for your needs.

  1. Preparing Your 3D Model for Printing

Once you have your 3D model, you'll need to prepare it for printing. This process, known as slicing, involves converting the 3D model into a series of layers that the printer can understand. To do this, you'll need slicing software like Cura, PrusaSlicer, or MatterControl. Some key steps in this process include:

a. Checking the model for errors: Ensure there are no gaps or holes in the model that could cause printing issues.

b. Orienting the model: Position the model on the build platform to minimize support material usage and optimize print quality.

c. Generating supports: Add support structures if necessary to prevent the part from collapsing during printing.

d. Setting print parameters: Adjust print settings such as layer height, infill density, and print speed to balance print quality and printing time.

  1. Printing Your Replacement Part

Once your model is prepared, it's time to print your replacement part. Here are some general steps to follow:

a. Preheat your 3D printer: Ensure your printer is preheated to the appropriate temperature for the material you're using.

b. Load the material: Insert the filament or resin into the 3D printer.

c. Start the print: Upload the sliced file to your 3D printer and begin the printing process.

d. Monitor the print: Keep an eye on the print to ensure there are no issues or failures during the process.

  1. Post-Processing Your 3D Printed Part

After your part has been printed, some post-processing steps may be necessary to improve its appearance and functionality:

a. Remove supports: Carefully remove any support structures from the printed part using pliers or a craft knife.

b. Sand the part: Sand the part to smooth any rough surfaces or layer lines.

c. Fill gaps: If there are any gaps or imperfections in the print, use a filler material like epoxy or automotive body filler to fill them in.

d. Paint and finish: If desired, paint the part using appropriate paints for the material, and apply a clear coat for added protection.


3D printing replacement and spare parts is an efficient and cost-effective solution for fixing broken devices or machinery. With the right 3D printer, materials, and design, you can create durable and functional parts that meet your specific needs. By following the steps outlined in this guide, you'll be well on your way to leveraging the power of 3D printing to keep your devices and machines running smoothly.