Opportunities For 3D-printable Spare Parts: Estimations From Historical Data

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The Sharepair project aims to decrease the waste of electronic and electric consumer products and increase their useful life, by supporting repair communities and scaling up citizen repairs through digital tools. One of the focus areas of this project is to support the discovery or manufacturing of spare parts. With a 3D CAD model of a part and a 3D printer, repair communities could manufacture spare parts. This paper discusses the possibilities of identifying repairs, within repair communities, that can be met through 3D printed spare parts. To understand and identify these possibilities, the repair entries expressed in the Open Repair Database (ORD) from the Open Repair Alliance were examined. The analysis aimed to identify documented examples of repairs that have broken or missing parts, and estimate how many may be suitable for replacement by 3D printed versions. The ORD includes 41,874 repair data entries from 229 repair communities (Repair Café, Restart Project, Fixit Clinic, and Anstiftung) in eighteen countries. Repair entries include information such as product category, brand, model, repair status and notes regarding the repair process and result, all in different languages.
The analysis identified a list of the most commonly repaired product categories, brands, and models, as well as an estimate that between 7.5% and 29% of products in repair cafes that are not repaired today could be repaired with 3D printed spare parts. The analysis also showed that the data and information about the repairs is inconsistent, open to interpretation and often too limited to precisely pinpoint opportunities for 3D printed spare parts. Specifying the product parts that need repair or replacement and their functional requirements would be key to a successful identification. Thus, the study proposes recommendations to improve the process of capturing repair information that specifies the repair needs that can be met by the use of 3D printing.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication4th PLATE Virtual Conference 2021
EditorsColin Fitzpatrick
Place of PublicationLimerick, Ireland
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 2022
EventPLATE 2021: the 4th Conference on Product Lifetimes and the Environment - Virtual conference at Limerick, Ireland
Duration: 26 May 202128 May 2021
Conference number: 4th


ConferencePLATE 2021
CityVirtual conference at Limerick
Internet address


  • repair information
  • repair communities
  • 3D printing
  • spare parts
  • repair products


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