Proudly Australian owned, designed, and manufactured (3D Printed) in Brisbane, Queensland by Bingtastic – a small family IT company. We started making these in 2012 when the latch broke in our Territory, and we’ve sold over 1,500 of them across Australia, New Zealand, and around the world!
I’m Daniel Bingham, and I’m a Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer and computer programmer. If you have any questions you can email me directly. Most of the time I’m writing custom cloud applications, but I really wanted an excuse to buy a 3D printer, and thanks to this part, I’m up to my 7th printer now.
3D printing can make better parts. Most plastic parts (like this one from Ford) are made by a process called injection moulding. In order to make overhanging parts, they need to put pins in place to support the mold. These pins create holes in the original parts. With 3D printing, we don’t need holes. Overhanging parts are supported during 3D printing by extra support material that is printed with the part, and removed afterwards. This means we can create stronger parts than factory injection molding because we don’t need holes. We added a couple of holes to our part to help you locate the springs, but they are small and have no bearing on the strength of the part. Point is we chose to add the holes, we weren’t forced to by our manufacturing method, and we filled in the holes that cause the original part to break and put even more material and reinforcing in that area.
3D Printing is amazing. If you want to know how it works, here’s the quick version: First you design the part using a 3D CAD program, then the 3D printer software slices the design into 0.2mm horizontal slices. The 3D printer takes a spool of ABS plastic (looks like a large reel of stiff, black fishing line) and melts the plastic through a nozzle at 260 degrees celsius to a very fine thread which it “prints” by moving over the workpiece like a plotter (sort of like an inkjet printer). Unlike an inkjet or plotter, the single extruder models can only do one colour (I use black ABS filament for this latch). After it completes a layer the printer lowers the workpiece 0.2mm and prints the next layer. It can take hours to print (this latch takes about 3 hours), and then you need to cut off the support material (extra bracing it prints to hold it together while being printed), and then clean up other marks on the plastic with a fine paintbrush and acetone. There are always small imperfections, and the finished product has various textures, including one I quite like which is a linen-like texture of the threads of each layer. Overall, it’s rather time consuming, the parts aren’t perfect, and there’s a lot of things you can’t 3D print, but in some cases it makes better parts – things that are impossible to make using traditional methods. 3D printing is a whole new ballgame when it comes to making things – custom made things you simply can’t buy.
Here’s one of our 3D printers in action: