Contest: Design a replacement part for something that is broken

We all own things that are broken but we just can’t seem to find the time, materials, tools, nor creativity to fix them. Your task is to submit a project for judging that includes a photo of the problem and a design that uses the Glowforge to produce a repair. The design need not be CAD and can be hand drawn, but must be camera ready, i.e. ready for at least a first test print on cardboard or MDF to see if it will work. Judging rubrics are: 1. Suitability as a solution. 2. Improvement over existing design (you actually upgrade the part or object) 3. Creative use of Glowforge in extending its potential. Deadline is 12:00 noon December 15, 2015. Winner will receive a custom flat pack kitchen match dispenser when I receive my Glowforge. Perhaps @jacobturner, @rpegg, and @Xabbess might assist in judging? I hope this is ok to post. Thought it may jump start a few of the novices to try their hand at this. Staff can nuke this post if it is something out of line.

This is an example. It’s my Mazzer Mini coffee grinder. The tray’s tab is broken. The tray is too small and coffee invariably is sprinkled beyond the edges. I will make a custom tray to replace this one.
And to show that we don’t need special tools. Here is my design process documented. This is seriously unskilled from a drafting point of view, but I wanted to show that we can use the Glowforge even with minimal skills to solve a problem.I used a blue Sharpie. I traced around the base of the coffee grinder.
Then I taped a piece of copy paper over that and used nickels for the holes for the feet of the grinder to go into. That way the base doesn’t slip out like original design often did. I did the circle with a piece of cardboard and a pin for a compass.

Then I taped another layer over that and drew the outlines for the edges of another layer that will be glued to the base. I can cut at least one layer of that depending on material thickness or perhaps make two layers of 1/4" plywood or MDF, or 1/2" material that I can cut on one side and finish the other side.


Funny you talk about a “contest”… I was thinking about just that the other day for a good way for submissions to the on-line area.

I would love to help with judging entries! That would be great fun. I will also take a look around for an ‘entry’ for myself.

1 Like

Thanks for the shout-out. Though I wouldn’t be a good judge. My personality revolves almost entirely around logic and problem solving. Function is easy but my skill at evaluating the aesthetic and artistic angles is almost non-existant. (I score very high on the Autism Quotient tests) Still interested in what people come up with.

As an aside, make sure you want assistance from someone completely new at this. I’ll understand if you want someone who knows a lot more than I do about using some of the design software…and for certain, I’ve never once used a laser, either. My feelings won’t be hurt if you wish to ask someone else instead of me.

That’s a great idea, and it’s generous of you to offer a prize.

Great idea. Maybe the winner could recieve the match dispenser along with a copy of the cut files? thinking i might like to make two. 1 for the kitchen and 1 for the bathroom to maybe… you know… help with the air quality from time to time.

I decided against submitting my first entry idea as it was a bit too simplistic in design. It was after all, just a circle.
I keep buying the wrong sized felt pads for our kitchen chair legs. (guess I dont know if those will laser anyway.) So while I am waiting for the Laser, it looks like I will get out the scissors and cut them the non-fun way while I read through all these awesome entries!

Cutfiles will be included. I’ll have no idea how copyright on design works, but if Creative Commons is applicable, that’s the way I’d go. Simple is good.

One reason why I asked you. You have been involved and you would bring a fresh perspective for the novices!

Thank you. Diversity rules!

Obviously very VERY hand drawn, this is something that used to bug the heck out of me. The small plastic ‘grate’ beneath the ice/water dispenser in my old fridge.Thankfully, I now have a new fridge. The crack in the grate didn’t affect it’s functionality, but was really annoying and I always wondered what would I do if it completely broke apart, as there were no replacement parts available for a 13 year old refrigerator. Gluing it didn’t work. This is a part I would try to recreate with the Glowforge.

This is not my entry into the contest. :blush:


Simplest solution is if the original tray was flat on either the up or down side you could “ink” up one side, press flat on a piece of paper, touch up by hand, including the breaks, and use the glowforge’s trace function to cut a new piece out of acrylic/polycarbonate. Next level of difficulty is trace around the edges with a pencil, erasing and touching up in an iterative process until the size is right. These are things you should be able to do with common household items (plus the glowforge of course.)

If you can’t trace the part while it is as flat as it can be, then for added difficultly use a bright, diffuse light source (think a long fluorescent bulb) larger than the tray, suspend the tray over paper and trace the shadow. The problem here is you can wind up at a different scale.

Geekiest solution is to place old piece over a black (or at least non-white) piece of paper, take a photo (camera perpendicular to the piece) with your phone/digital camera/tablet, import into inkscape, vector it, size it, manually correct the breaks and then export it for cutting

I’d go in for judging, no clue what criteria I would use though. “Should actually work” is about as far as I can think of right now:)

1 Like

Three categories usually works well for these types of things. Concept, Functionality, Aesthetic?

If you have a flat bed scanner you could just scan it without losing scale. This would likely be a perfect job for the camera in the glowforge.

1 Like

I have already won! No, not the contest, that is quite unlikely with all the talent here. But I have won in all the things rescued from the curb.
I will rework one of those for the glowforge and submit.
Great idea BTW, I hope @dan likes the idea and gets on board.

@Dan loves this idea. Awesome!

One of the twins pulled the baby camera off the wall and it broke the support arm so I printed a new one. I made the file open and free on tinkercad.

It’s a 3D model, but I like the idea.

Not really contest worthy because I don’t need a design. My hobby is tinkering with acoustic instruments. About a dozen times a year I am called on to replace a torn calf skin head on a vintage banjo. One of my first projects, after the greyscale capability is functional, is to lightly burn a design on the banjo head itself. Personalization for those that are interested. This will require a lot of experimentation to not affect the integrity of the material. The design is not so important at this point as the process itself. After that, the ability to replace missing inlays in older instruments. Very tedious to do by hand. My closest friend is the foreman at a commercial high end veneer company. An almost unlimited supply of exotic veneer scrap and lots of ideas.


Banjo, yes. A banjo playing friend of mine has John Hartford’s signature on one of his skins. Would be interesting to see how lasers and heads go together. [note to non-banjo geeks. JH wrote “Gentle on My Mind”.]