Repairing things yourself will become more important in the future. On the one hand, because developers and producers intentionally integrate errors and predetermined breaking points into products, so-called planned obsolescence. And on the other hand, raw materials are becoming increasingly scarce and thus more expensive. With the availability of open source software and 3D printers, this trend can be counteracted, in the spirit of the Repair Caf├ęs: repair instead of throwing away!


What sounded like dreams of the future a few years ago is already reality now. Today, everyone has the opportunity to access free CAD software on the Internet and teach themselves the necessary skills to operate it. Especially with the advent of 3D printers for the masses, software makers as well as computer nerds are working to make CAD software accessible to all, even children. + TINKERCAD + and + FREECAD + are good examples of this.

But there have also been some developments in home 3D printers in recent years. They tend to become cheaper, while maintaining or even improving print quality. Probably the most popular and simplest printing technology, + FDM + (fused deposition modeling) can be thought of as a motorized and digitally controlled hot glue gun. The thermoplastic (usually PLA) is pressed as a string (filament) via a transport mechanism (feeder) into a heated nozzle. The print head is equipped with precise stepper motors that build up the fine plastic filament layer by layer on the print bed into the finished part. That is why 3D printing is also called additive manufacturing among professionals.

What this means now is that with access to CAD software and a 3D printer, (almost) anything you can imagine can be made and also repaired. The limit here is your own creativity and imagination. This was also the basic idea of + NEIL GERSHENFELD +, head of center for bits and atoms (MIT) and initiator of FabLabs, where creative people use digitally controlled machines to realize their visions. The story + REPAIR THINGS + uses a real-life example of Ursina’s rolling suitcase to show what is possible today with the help of 3D printers.