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Hemingway 09-05-2009 12:45 PM

Plastic - using plastic to make your own replacement parts
Often there is a repair that you just can't find the replacement part, or you need to buy the entire assembly for mucho dinero when all you really needed was this little plastic plug.

I remember seeing my father melt down a plastic bottle with a torch and mold it into a weird shape, and it looked absolutely horrible, but when it hardened he was able to fit it into whatever repair he was doing, and he didn't care if it looked good as long as he got the repair done quickly and it fit.

Does anybody do this regularly? Make their own parts?

There are times where I will wander around the hardware store looking for something I can dissect to use its parts to fix something else, but it seldom pays off.

I remember working in a manufacturing plant where they had a machine shop that could fabricate anything you wanted. I'd need tools like these Hot Air hand-held plastic welding tools.

KAdams4458 09-05-2009 03:43 PM

I've never had the need to make my own parts, but there are several times that I have mended plastic parts with a hot air welder.

Take this guy here.

That's the ABS plastic panel that holds the entire heater control unit in the dash of my Mercedes. The part is unavailable without purchasing an entire used heater control unit, which at the time couldn't be touched on e-Bay for less than $800, and every junkyard donor I found was either missing the part I needed, or it was completely shattered.

I fixed it myself using a white ABS welding rod. (Colour doesn't matter since a wood panel hides the plastic plate once it's installed.) Once the panel was back together I ground it down to original dimensions so that the wood trim would sit flush on it and re-drilled the mounting holes. It works perfectly.

My cheap hot air welder is probably one of my better investments. It takes some practise to be able to make a good weld without destroying the parts you're trying to repair, but once you get the hang of it, you can do some pretty amazing things. :thumbup:

UFoPilot 09-05-2009 05:57 PM

If it's ABS you can also use ABS pipe glue. Tolulene works for gluing plastic as well.

Hemingway 09-06-2009 12:13 PM

My current repair is a broken liner on my ancient refrigerator door. The plastic is so thin, and the refr so old, I'm guessing it is made from Polybutylene. I'm using gorilla glue and pieces of caulking tube for the repair.

Hemingway 09-23-2009 10:05 AM

Heat Gun
Okay the gorilla glue didn't hold for very long. I went to Harbor Freight and looked for a welder and couldn't find one so I bought a Chicago Heat Gun.

user1007 09-26-2009 07:49 AM

There are some sites emerging that bring 3D printing into accessible range for individuals and this is a great way to crank out plastic parts. You can either use fairly easy to use 3D design tools (often provided by the websites) or find access to a 3D scanner. Here are some links if interested.

Be careful melting plastics! Remember the fumes given off in doing so can be toxic.


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