I owned a Hagen ZooZone blue cage which I mostly use for transporting my guinea pig during the holidays. I’ve had this cage for over five years now and I can honestly say that it was worth the buy. However, as time passed and some of the parts started to naturally suffer from wear ad tear.
Unfortunately, whiles moving the cage around I applied a little too much force while pushing one of the clips in place and ended up breaking it. Now apart from that clip, the cage was in a perfectly good shape and rather than buying a new one I decided I just print a new clip.
Plus its a good excuse to use my printer.
With Solidworks all warmed up and ready to go, I started by first modelling the working clip and paying close attention key mechanical features that are required to make it work. For example, the sliding groove on the bottom side.
The printer that I have is limited to printing on PLA and has only one extruder. What this means, is that I have to make sure that I design the new clip with this in mind and avoid making floating features that might required support.
This is what I came up with.
I should point out that the cage and the original clips were made out of ABS. it is a much stronger material than PLA which is what I used to print. Now there are various good reasons why I don’t like to print in ABS and they are worth writing on a dedicated post. However, the main reason (I’m sure I’m not the only one here) is that I already had the printer tuned to PLA and I simply didn’t see it been worth my time and the money to swap and re-tune the printer. Also if you keep swapping materials between prints, then you are likely to block extruder.
I’ve improved on the clip’s shoulders joints by adding a wider curve at the point the locking arms connects to main body. This should reduce the overall amount of stresses that the previous clips had at that joint by allowing the the locking arms to flex more easily. PLA is naturally more flexible than ABS, however, It shouldn’t really hurt to have a bit more flex on that joints.
To make the clip a bit more printer friendly, I avoided some of the overhanging features, such as the clip guide on the main body.
The Clip in use and Images
After some minor clean ups and little bit of force, the clip went right in (just about). Unfortunately, with most prints you are going to get a little bit shrinkage and depending on how well you printer is tuned you are also going to get excess material. However, if you are willing to reprint and adjust you model, then you should be able to compensate for this.
Here a couple of pictures to compare the original clips vs the newly printed one and few pictures at various stages while printing .