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The plastic glide rail on which my refrigerator vegetable drawer (bin) traveled recently broke.

The rail was part of a large plastic shelf, which is no longer available for purchase.

I'm thinking about 3D printing a new glide rail and attaching it (somehow) to the existing shelf.

Can 3D printing be used for this task to make the repair any easier or more successful to complete than simply cutting a piece of plastic and (again, somehow) affixing it to the shelf?

Note that the glide rail needs to be somehow attached to the shelf at a 90 degree angle. I keep using the word "somehow" because I haven't figured out how to make that magic happen yet.

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    $\begingroup$ Can you provide photos or reasonably accurate drawings to represent the reference to the 90° angle and other details? $\endgroup$
    – fred_dot_u
    Nov 24 '20 at 21:37
  • $\begingroup$ @fred_dot_u Thanks for your interest, Fred. Let me try to find a diagram, or take a photo. A diagram will likely be better, because the part is white on white, which will be hard to discern in a 2D photo. $\endgroup$ Nov 24 '20 at 22:28
  • $\begingroup$ How was the original (broken) one attached? Was it a single injection-molded piece? $\endgroup$ Nov 25 '20 at 5:41
  • $\begingroup$ How much load do you expect to put on the shelf? Depending on geometry, I have seen parts withstanding quite tremendous forces by clever design. $\endgroup$
    – Trish
    Nov 25 '20 at 8:39
  • $\begingroup$ @R..GitHubSTOPHELPINGICE Correct, the original was a single injection-molded piece. $\endgroup$ Nov 25 '20 at 13:51
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Can 3D printing be used for this task to make the repair any easier or more successful to complete than simply cutting a piece of plastic and (again, somehow) affixing it to the shelf?

Yes. 3D printed parts can be plenty strong enough to handle the kind of load you're considering. You'll need to create a 3D model of the part you want it a CAD program, which is something that takes some practice if you don't already know how to do it, so it may or may not be easier for you than milling the from a plastic blank.

One advantage that 3D printing brings with it is the ability to iterate rapidly on your design: you can model and print the part that you think will work, try it out, adjust your model to incorporate what you learn from the first try, and print new versions until you get it just right. If the existing shelf is broken in some irregular way, for example, you can design a new part that mates tightly with the broken edge of the part you have.

The rail was part of a large plastic shelf, which is no longer available for purchase.

Perhaps you've already looked, but there are a great many parts suppliers online. If you have the part number, be sure to look beyond just what the manufacturer can supply -- it's very likely that someone out there has the part you need.

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  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for your helpful answer Caleb. I've been searching for the part from many suppliers, but so far, nothing. Another challenge with such a large part is shipping expense. $\endgroup$ Apr 27 at 0:55
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This is one of those tricky problems where the form of the repair and the materials that you need have to go hand in hand - you need a way to fix the new rail to the shelf and you need the repair to be strong enough to do it’s job. Perhaps consider screwing the rail to the shelf - cyanoacrylate adhesive is good for 3D prints but doesn’t like low temperatures. Once you know how you’re going to fix the rail, the design requirements will be clearer.

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If you have powder plastic then I believe it will be easier for you to 3D print the shelf, resulting in smooth finish and high load capacity.

Powder plastics offer the benefits of increased utilization rate and easy production process. Also, the excessive amount of powder can be eliminated at the finish production process and may be reused in the subsequent printing procedure. For plastic powder materials, powders may perform the function of supporting the part, letting added freedom and flexibility in design.

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    $\begingroup$ Sorry, but this doesn't answer the question, the question is not about the shelf but about the support rail. Furthermore, powder 3D printing is more or less an industrial process, not something someone would have at home, so this must be printed outside, this isn't addressed in this answer. $\endgroup$
    – 0scar
    Apr 28 at 8:48

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