DIY Making Repair

3D-Printed Piece Saves My Cuisinart Food Processor

The utopian vision of 3-D printing and communal knowledge sharing came true this week, in one small instance. For years I’ve loved the idea of 3-D printing a replacement component when some plastic bit snaps in a machine I’m using. Especially when the manufacturer doesn’t sell that widget and intends for you to junk and replace the whole thing. But in practice, I’ve not found myself in a situation where that would be viable…

Until this week. Last year my mother upgraded her food processor and handed me down her previous model, a Cuisinart DFP-14 (DFP-14BCN to be precise). The machine had seen years of hard work and at last, the little plastic interlock piece at the nexus of the complicated safety mechanism broke.

I spent maybe 90 minutes last weekend trying to fix it. This involved cutting a reinforcement plate out of scrap plastic, epoxying it on, and mounting it with a machine screw (part of the plastic housing had shattered, too). I had tried my best but it was not going to last. Here’s the kludge fix at the point where I called it quits:

The black plastic layer is my addition. This won’t hold up for long.

(This should all be unnecessary: I would prefer to purchase a replacement part. But Cuisinart does not sell a replacement for this plastic bit. Symptomatic of our disposable consumer culture, and terrible corporate behavior. They could make a few bucks on such a part and keep machines out of the landfill, but they don’t. An ideal manufacturer would not only sell replacement parts but make public their 3D models. We are a long way from that but there’s hope: France passed and is implementing a law under which certain categories of devices must publish their repair scores. Including smartphones and washing machines. As someone who once replaced a washing machine clutch by mimicking YouTube videos step-by-step, I find this very exciting.)

Since I was modifying the machine, my idea was to leave it better than it started, by overriding a safety mechanism. Steampunk Workshop’s blog post describes this behavior well; in short, like him, I wanted to go back to the prior generation of machines where you can operate it while the feeding chute is open. Thus my machine screw and nuts, which I thought might keep the plastic fin depressed and engaging the safety at all times.

When I realized my fix wouldn’t take, I considered 3-D printing. I’ve never designed anything 3-D and don’t know how to use a 3-D printer, but I have acquaintances who are experts. Maybe someone has already designed this widget? I searched, and indeed they had! I found this piece on the Thingiverse, which had a link back to that Steampunk Workshop blog post (he designed this item).

I posted a call for help printing on my local Mastodon instance ( and Tim Saucer came to my rescue. He took a look, predicted that the tunnel for the mounting pin would not print correctly, and guessed that it wouldn’t be a problem. He was right on both counts: the tunnel has an open seam along the end, but it’s sufficiently closed to grip the pin anyway. Tim printed the bit, I picked it up, and the machine now works perfectly. Here’s the same shot as above, but with the replacement part:

Nice and snug so it shouldn’t matter that the clear plastic chunk in front is gone.

Actually, it works better than before: thanks to the design, it now operates without the feeding chute insert assembly in place. Here it is in action:

When turned counter-clockwise, that fin will depress the white plunger…
… like this!

This new feature is especially good because that feeding chute insert assembly is itself cracking and might fail soon. When it does, maybe I’ll try to design a replacement and print it. That replacement process would be much more forgiving now that it doesn’t have to engage a safety interlock.

The bowl and lid themselves appear to be in good shape, so this fix might buy me additional years of use.

For others in a similar situation: this piece was right for my machine, whose lid model is DFP-14WBC, but there were several interlock widget replacements on Thingiverse for other models. This is a more true-to-original replacement for a DFP-14; just last week one was uploaded for the 10-cup DLC-10; and there’s one for the DLC 2011. Clearly, this an idea others have had, and I’m fortunate I could walk the path they cleared.

Learning to use a 3-D printer would be fun, but for now I’m grateful to have a network of caring humans in Ann Arbor who are willing to share their tools and expertise. And I appreciate that strangers across the world who tackle problems like these take the time to share their inventions. The internet and modern tech are so often a disappointment, but in this case they lived up to their potential.

4 replies on “3D-Printed Piece Saves My Cuisinart Food Processor”

I am pretty sure the piece that broke was on a replacement sold by Cuisinart and that piece was only about 3 or 4 years old. That model isn’t made anymore; they have changed the way it locks to the lid so the potential replacement part they make doesn’t fit (I bought it and tried). I appreciate your stick to it work.

I have an 11 Cup with the spring/mechanism/handle that just broke and the bowl is discontinued. 🙁 Came here hoping this was the fix but my issue is on the bottom of the handle.

Bummer! In that case you might consider opening up the base unit and overriding the safety circuit. Basically it would think the bowl is always in place.

That would make the machine less safe, but for grown up usage should be fine. I haven’t tried it but I’m guessing it’s a relatively simple job for someone with a little experience or curiosity about connecting wires together.

“An ideal manufacturer would not only sell replacement parts but make public their 3D models.” Would love to see this legislated – the right to 3D repair. Sell me the shapefile!

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