Dec 29, 2023

Free 3D

Patched jeans. Taped glasses. Reupholstered furniture.

For those of us eager to be more sustainable with the items we use on a daily basis, one of the best places to start is by repairing things or giving them a second life.

However, if you aren't savvy with a sewing machine, or some fancy tools aren't always accessible to you, it can be intimidating — or sometimes impossible — to make simple fixes and extend the lifespan of some of these random goods.

Enter: Morley Kert. He's a maker, fixer, and content creator who takes viewers along on his various projects and designs, all from his tiny apartment workshop. "

Inspired by popular fix-it YouTuber Van Neistat, Kert decided he wanted to take his beloved 3D printer on a field trip to offer free 3D-printed repairs in public spaces.

The first time he offered his services was last summer at the Maker Bean Cafe in Toronto. The perfect location — a coffee shop with laser cutting and 3D printing services and workshops — Kert set up shop with a "Free 3D Printed Repairs" sign, his laptop, tools, and printer, and waited for his first "customer."

Quickly, community members trickled in. A pair of sunglasses rejuvenated by a simple, perfectly-carved piece of filament. A water bottle lid that no longer snapped shut, quickly fixed with a new clasp.

While Kert was mostly tasked with small, simple fixes, they are not insignificant.

"I’m very interested in not throwing things away," one community member said in Kert's recap video of the event. "Of course, everything that is designed nowadays is designed to be thrown away. It can be something as silly as a knob on a fan, and the whole thing ends up in the garbage. Why throw all that away?"

Kert considered this first free fix event a success, but he was excited to level up. A few months later, he was ready to take his repair station to a public park.

Building a wooden cart and a protective enclosure for his printer, he wheeled his off-grid 3D printing setup to the local park — powered by a portable power station and solar panel.

This time, the stakes were a little higher. He fixed an immersion blender, a (very expensive) hair dryer, music stands, and even a part for a bicycle.

"You are pretty amazing," a commenter wrote on TikTok. "I love all the things you are fixing and keeping out of the landfills."

"Example of steps to a post-scarcity, circular economy future!" another rejoiced.f

"This is, in my opinion, one of the most powerful applications of 3D printing," another person chimed in. "Repair instead of replace!"

While each free repair event proves to have its own challenges (like keeping a solar panel in direct sunlight all afternoon), Kert tinkers on. He recently hosted one of his signature free repair stations in London.

And when he's not rolling the 3D printer across the world, he's sharing more videos of turning "trash to treasure," making fixes for his own possessions, and using his creativity for good.

"Ever since I was a young kid, I’ve loved to tinker, build, modify, take things apart (and maybe not put them back together again), invent, design, engineer, create art, make videos, and learn new skills," Kert writes on his website.

"I thrive on the challenge of building projects with limited tools and space. I believe that not having something can be a wonderful source of creativity and inspiration."