Tag Archives: 3D Printing

3D Printed Repair: The Modern revival of the ancient Japanese art of Kintsugi

Kintsugi is the ancient Japanese art of repairing broken pottery with gold, silver, or platinum. The philosophy of Kintsugi celebrates the history of an object by highlighting its repair instead of disguising it. The repair not only makes the object functional again, but also beautiful through its uniqueness.

A bowl repaired with lacquer and gold in the Kintsugi fashion.

Although the art of Kintsugi still exists, a modern offshoot of this art is evolving as part of our everyday lives due to the increasing affordability of 3D printing. Due to differing properties of the polymers used for printing and inability to make perfect color/shape matching, it has led some modern makers to highlight their repairs with unique shapes and colors just as with Kintsugi. In an age where almost everything is standardized and disposable, modern 3D Kintsugi is a breath of fresh air that, in addition to breaking the cycle of consumerism, adds beauty to our lives with unique objects that cannot be purchased on Amazon.

The evolution of 3D printing as a reparative art is in its infancy and a community devoted to these designs has yet to evolve but one can find a number of examples of it in 3D printing communities such as Reddit’s Functional Prints. A few examples are listed below:

A pair of scissors with 3D Printed handle repair. (From Reddit user: badatchopsticks)
A 3D Printed replacement stand for this LED mirror. (By reddit user: aqa5)
A laptop charger repaired with 3D Printed part. (From reddit user cafeBreak24)

As far as my own creations in the medical and hospital space, most of my creative interventions are not reparative in nature but a few of my creations do fit the bill and can be found here:

Here, this McGrath laryngoscope battery, which costs $50, had a broken removal tab to allow removal of the battery but still had 2/3 of the battery left. This $0.05 repair allows the additional $33 of the battery to be used.
When the pharmacy changed from large to small vials of clindamycin, instead of reprinting my entire emergency drug tray component, I simply made an insert to allow for organized storage of the new smaller vials.
A simple 3D Printed replacement of this epidural pump screw clamp bushing in white TPU.
A 3D printed Knob that I made for the anesthesia office toaster oven.

It is my hope that 3D Kintsugi will continue to evolve as a modern functional art form, extending the longevity of our possessions and adding unique and beautiful elements to our lives.