I dropped my Vornado fan. One of the fan blades broke in the fall.

Fan blade, pretty dusty, missing 1 of 3 paddles.

I couldn’t find a replacement blade for it, so it’s next stop should be the landfill.


A person on Thingiverse had the same thing happen to the exact same fan and was able to design a replacement part. I tried to print it on my 3d printer, but the build plate was just a little too small for me to get a stable print. Luckily my friend Aaron has a larger printer and was able to print it for me (here’s Aaron’s Etsy store of cool 3d printed stuff).

Now I have a fixed fan (with a nice color contrast too!):

Fixed, 3 paddle blue fan blade installed in a fan with the guard off

This is the same story as Sam Firke’s food processor blog post. And, I’m sure, thousands of other experiences. It’s like open source software; one person solves a problem for themself and, by sharing the fix online, improves other people’s lives. I love it.

You don’t have to be a 3d modeler to benefit from 3d printing. You don’t even need to have a 3d printer. You can find a friend or a makerspace to help you out, or you can go through a service.

The next time you break a piece of plastic, check out sites like Thingiverse and Printables to see if you can find the part you need.

One response to “Why you should know about 3d printing even if you don’t ever want to 3d print something”

  1. @georgehotelling This is a timely post for me. I just broke a plastic strap clip on my swim goggles and would hate to buy a new pair just for that. There are several parts like this available? Would you be open to printing this for me? https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:4540887

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