The right to repair.

Foxbat

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This new law can't come soon enough for me. I think it's still about two years away. For those that don't know, it's a legal requirement to force manufacturers of electronic and electrical goods to make the inner components more accessible. I used to do a lot of repairing. I kept a washing machine going for almost thirty years (changed the brushes three times ands fitted a new solenoid). I recently repaired a Line 6 Pod (guitar processor) for about three pounds. The part was only pennies but I had to buy a batch of 25. At least I've got plenty spares.

Recently, one of my LCD monitors stopped working and I suspect it may be something simple like an internal fuse but I can't for the life of me figure out how to get this thing apart. There are no obvious ways in and I'm beginning to suspect that the chassis has been glued to the plastic outer cover. It's utterly infuriating and ecologically unsound for manufacturers to do this. People will be able to extend the lives of their products by getting them repaired. That means less stuff just thrown away and that can't be a bad thing.
 

Overread

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This can't come soon enough, though I'm sure there will be loopholes and issues but its a good step in the right direction. There are a LOT of home gadgets now with self sealing plastic parts which makes it near impossible to enter. Or if you can enter them you need a very specific key tool to press on pressure points (which are not obvious) so that it will pop open. It is indeed a way to stop people accessing the inner parts to repair them, as well as to stop cheaper 3rd party repair companies.

We do need a huge attitude change, but I don't think its going to come any time soon - we are still stuck with a huge generation of businesses and managers and theory people who are slaved to ideals such as continual product replacement, continual new product updates and staged releases to tease out features. AS well as insane things like expecting continual revenue increases each year (which prompts companies to keep finding ways to sell the same product to the same customers a few years later).

Then again with wages and such its only part of the problem; the other is still finding repair people willing to repair. We had a leaky tap and the plumber basically said they only replace them now. They don't reseat and fit a new rubber washer, they just replace the whole tap. IT doesn't help that tap designs keep changing; that parts are a darn pain to find (dozens of different designs and even within the same design loads of micro-size different parts just different enough to not work but not different enough to change function or output). So instead of taps being made to last and just swapping over a few pence of rubber we instead have to replace the whole thing and throw away the old.
 

CupofJoe

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Isn't this EU law? So from 1 Nov 2019, the UK may not be bound by it.
I live on estate that is managed by a social housing association, and they have set up a monthly repair cafe/workshop for the last couple of years. It's in the middle of the week when I'm at work, so it isn't perfect, but I think it a good start.
 

Foxbat

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@CupofJoe It may well be EU law but it seems we're behind the times in the UK. Your situation sounds better than most.

@Overread Sometimes there's an easy and cheap alternative. Many years ago, I had a leaking float valve and couldn't get a replacement washer (much like a tap washer). I just took the valve apart, bought a washer that was too big and whittled it down to size with a knife. It worked for about ten years until I got around to replacing the whole thing.
 

Vladd67

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Years ago when my dad had trouble with the alternator on the car he would buy a new set of brushes but then that was no longer possible and instead you had to buy a whole new alternator. Not only that but the dealer takes your old one and it gets reconditioned and resold, without you receiving a penny for it.
 

Foxbat

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Years ago when my dad had trouble with the alternator on the car he would buy a new set of brushes but then that was no longer possible and instead you had to buy a whole new alternator. Not only that but the dealer takes your old one and it gets reconditioned and resold, without you receiving a penny for it.
Yes. That is a problem. But don't do what I did. I needed an alternator for an old Volvo 145 and a friend said he could get me one. When it arrived, the bracket holes were a different size. Just drill 'em out, he urged...which I did. Everything was fine until, one night, the drilled out brackets broke away. Luckily, I still had the old alternator in the car so, at about 0100, I was lying on a wet road under the car fitting the old one so we could get home. Battery was flat when we got there but at least we got there. Not a good night :confused:
 

Dave

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I think that 3D printing is going to help. Once 3D printers are cheap enough that they can be owned by a community or even by individuals on an average wage, then the manufacturers can no longer charge a premium on small parts required for repairs. You also don't need to pay for shipping costs. However, we need to teach people and educate them how to make repairs too. Very few millennials could fit brushes on an alternator, change a component in electronic or electrical equipment, or change a valve seat in a leaking tap. Those Repair Cafes, Fixit Clinics and community repair events are great as they not only repair things themselves, but encourage people to learn to repair themselves. However, as one might expect, electrical and electronics repairs pose a bigger challenge with regards to safety, in comparison with clothes and bike repairs. The other problem is that many items are just not built to last anymore, but have a obsolescent design.
 

CupofJoe

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3D prining will be a thing, I'm sure, just not as fast as people what.
One of the big Turkish white goods companies [BEKO?] was planning on making all its replaceable/breakable parts 3D printable and then get rid of their maintenance and spares network. Don't know how far this got though...
and the US Army has dabbled in 3D printing as well, I read somewhere...
 

Dave

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...the US Army has dabbled in 3D printing as well, I read somewhere...
There was a report on the US Air Force on BBC Breakfast News last week, who are using 3D printing to replace aircraft parts in UK bases. It takes more than a day to print an aircraft part but they used to ship them from the USA, which could take weeks, or else they'd actually hammer out something bespoke with hand tools. They have gone from very low-tech to ultra hi-tech.
 

Foxbat

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I think that 3D printing is going to help. Once 3D printers are cheap enough that they can be owned by a community or even by individuals on an average wage, then the manufacturers can no longer charge a premium on small parts required for repairs. You also don't need to pay for shipping costs. However, we need to teach people and educate them how to make repairs too. Very few millennials could fit brushes on an alternator, change a component in electronic or electrical equipment, or change a valve seat in a leaking tap. Those Repair Cafes, Fixit Clinics and community repair events are great as they not only repair things themselves, but encourage people to learn to repair themselves. However, as one might expect, electrical and electronics repairs pose a bigger challenge with regards to safety, in comparison with clothes and bike repairs. The other problem is that many items are just not built to last anymore, but have a obsolescent design.
Yes. 3D printing is a great boon and, oddly enough, a new business has just started up in my home town based on precisely that and other manufacturing processes. It's primarily a craft shop making jewelry and stuff but they are also open to creating pieces via 3D printing or other mediums on demand. Trouble is, I want to be a customer but right at this moment, I can't think of a thing I want or need made.

I still have my trusty solder sucker and chip removal tool. The sucker still gets used regularly but I haven't removed a chip for many years. I also remember years ago Hawkwind released an album (PXR5) with a plug wired up the wrong way on the cover. Needless to say, there were a few complaints from the public when things went bang at home so, yes, people need to be educated in terms of safety.

I believe designed obscelesence is a particular target through this law so we might see a bit less of that.
 

Robert Zwilling

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designed obscelesence is a particular target through this law so we might see a bit less of that
That problem is obsolescence, and unless that is outlawed, we will only see a tiny bit less of it. The plumber who only replaced leaky faucets wasn't a plumber, a real plumber can fix things, it was one of those people who wasn't trained to fix things. That condition started 50 years ago when the manufacturing process was able to integrate components into spaces that couldn't be reached. The 3-D printers are making parts that don't have parts inside of them. That simplistic situation won't last. The 3-D printers are relatively cheap because they are doing simplistic designs. Chips are embedded into multi-layer circuit boards. The manufacturing process of electronic items will become increasing layered, displays will be "poured" into existence the same way the active elements in the chips are micro etched into existence. Washing machines have so many bells and whistles in them that half of their operation is based on an array of logic conditions all performed in parallel and sequences that will thwart any self repair enthusiasts who can replace the mechanics but can't reprogram the device.

Electric cars look to be one place where you could do the work yourself. They are heading down the easy as assembling lego blocks road (mechanical vcrs vs dvd players) but will they let an unlicensed person perform repairs. Look for a law prohibiting home repair of electric cars. That's so the permanent lojack that turns off the starter doesn't get permanently disconnected and the automatatic speed control isn't disabled.

Instead of all this remote control BS being programmed into devices, the devices should be required to report what failed so the manufacturer can redesign the original design so that failure won't happen in the future. Lots of luck with that happening. Instead the manufacturers will continue the no serviceable parts within this enclosed space designs to thwart obsolescence laws. Robotic construction will only enhance the obsolescence design process. Like the alternators, you can "repair" it by recycling the whole thing. That's the kind of recycling industry wants to see. They'll let you keep the case the electronic device came in but everything inside will have to swapped out for security reasons.

If the biggest game in town, our operation of the planet is planned obsolescence, I really can't see people not imitating that as a way of doing small things.

For phones, the law should have said all batteries should be replaceable by ordinary means, and displays should pop out for easy replacement, jacks should be easy to replace,common sense type ideas. Target laws that specify particular types of actions are usually a bad idea but in this case it would have nailed the coffin shut on that particular game.
 

Overread

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3D printing isn't the revolution I think many thing it will be. Manufacturing wise where I've seen it used most is as a production tool for master copies rather than actually producing stock. The thing is its slow compared to many standard production methods for mass production. In addition it requires specialist resources to produce the output material.

It doesn't always print true either, so if you're mass producing you're going to have to pay staff to monitor the various machines or at least their results.

So for mass production its not really ideal save for some niche situations. However you can invest in one really top end 3D printer and create a master and then use that to produce your moulds for mass production machines.


The airforce using it to make one-off repair parts is another ideal example where you're not producing a thousand parts, you're making one bespoke part for a single use. Replacement, repair and one-off etc.... As for home use I think of it like this - how many people currently own, use and are skilled at using lathes, drills, heck how many can lay bricks or plaster or fix electronics. Heck many people can't even fix running out of toner with a printer or common printing errors like dry contacts etc.... So a 3D printer is going to be well beyond them unless it works easily and flawlessly every time. So we are a long way off that yet.
I think it will be a hobbyists dream, but I can't see it being mainsteam for a long while.
 

Foxbat

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The lathes question is a good point and finally the government is seeing the value of apprenticeships. When I was an apprentice, we spent a year trying other trades. I did a bit of machining, turning, welding and a course in auto electrics among others. Luckily my brother can lay bricks so between us, we can cover a fair few things. We're maybe not 'skilled' but we can get by. I've even helped change a car engine and gear box (under instruction from a more experienced friend).

There's a scene in the Big Bang Theory that says it all. The friends break down in the middle of nowhere. Anybody know how an internal combustion engine works? Of course, they all answer. Anybody know how to fix one? Silence.
 

pyan

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My pet hate is when I am almost sure that I can fix something, but the cover or base or whatever is held together with those things that look like bolts but can't be removed:
kinmar-permanent-bolt-zinc-175x175.jpg

Sure, you could drill them out, but then you've got to source something to hold the damn casing back together...
 

Foxbat

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My pet hate is when I am almost sure that I can fix something, but the cover or base or whatever is held together with those things that look like bolts but can't be removed:
Sure, you could drill them out, but then you've got to source something to hold the damn casing back together...
Ah yes. You are not alone in your hatred. Luckily for me, our local recycling centre has loads of different bolts and other components. They sell bolts and stuff by weight so you are literally paying pennies for just a few. I recently bought three very long, very new masonry drills for £1 each. They probably would costy over a tenner each elsewhere. It makes life a little easier when you know you can probably get some kind of replacement or tool for next to nothing.
 

Vince W

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I recently repaired a Line 6 Pod (guitar processor) for about three pounds. The part was only pennies but I had to buy a batch of 25. At least I've got plenty spares.
It's great that you fixed it, but why would you want to? ;) Ax -> cable -> amp (tube). Best sound ever.
 

Foxbat

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It's great that you fixed it, but why would you want to? ;) Ax -> cable -> amp (tube). Best sound ever.
For recording purposes. It's much simpler to direct inject from a pod than bother about microphone placement when your coffee table is acting as your studio. I do have a Valve amp and it sounds brilliant but I just can't seem to replicate that though a microphone into my desk.
 

WaylanderToo

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Years ago when my dad had trouble with the alternator on the car he would buy a new set of brushes but then that was no longer possible and instead you had to buy a whole new alternator. Not only that but the dealer takes your old one and it gets reconditioned and resold, without you receiving a penny for it.
from an environmental viewpoint though this is still good


Electric cars look to be one place where you could do the work yourself. They are heading down the easy as assembling lego blocks road (mechanical vcrs vs dvd players) but will they let an unlicensed person perform repairs. Look for a law prohibiting home repair of electric cars. That's so the permanent lojack that turns off the starter doesn't get permanently disconnected and the automatatic speed control isn't disabled.
it's only illegal if you're caught...
 

Vince W

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For recording purposes. It's much simpler to direct inject from a pod than bother about microphone placement when your coffee table is acting as your studio. I do have a Valve amp and it sounds brilliant but I just can't seem to replicate that though a microphone into my desk.
Of course. That makes perfect sense.
 
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