Desktop 3D printing produces hard to find photographic equipment

Monday, 1 June 2015  |  Sabina Gonzalez-George
Durst AC800 Enlarger

New technology restores life to old technology

Desktop 3D printing produces hard to find photographic equipment


James Ashford, Photography Teacher at The Henley College, teaching A-Level Photography, enlisted CREAT3D’s help for bringing an old piece of photography equipment back to life, using desktop 3D printing.


The college has a Durst AC800 Enlarger, a piece of equipment that works a little like a slide projector, inherited from Reading Post where it had spent most of its life. By placing a negative in the enlarger and shining a light through onto photographic paper, it generates a larger image of the negative. It is used within the photography course to teach students about film, ensuring they have a better understanding of photographic techniques. Using a mixture of older as well as the latest digital equipment broadens their knowledge and skill set.


The Durst AC800 Enlarger was the last of its kind, originally produced by an Italian manufacturer but due to digital developments, the production of these pieces of equipment ceased some years ago, making it somewhat tricky to get hold of replacement parts.


The enlarger was missing its negative carrier. James managed to source one half of the carrier, but with no luck finding the matching section. That’s where 3D printing came into play. Contacting CREAT3D, James supplied the carrier, from which CREAT3D’s technical team measured and developed a technical 3D drawing for the replacement part.


The part was printed on the UP Plus 2 desktop 3D printer on fine settings in ABS filament, as high toughness and longevity of the part needed to be maximised. The print took 51 minutes and used 6.4g of material, costing approximately 27p. 


The outcome? “The print fits like a glove. Fits absolutely perfectly” is the feedback from James. It may not perhaps be as stiff as compared to the metal original version, but the 3D printed one used in conjunction with the original creates sufficient rigidity and strength to perform its function. And of course, if the replacement part does eventually fail, the digital blueprint now exists and can be printed again quickly, at very low cost. 

Replacement 3D printed part


The replacement part has enabled students to be able to print medium format negatives rather than standard 35mm. The A-level course is taught within Fine Arts subjects so this now working piece of equipment allows them to experiment with different print techniques and explore the different qualities generated from medium format negatives. One student has a Hasselblad camera inherited from his grandfather, which was the type of camera taken on the moon landings. Having the medium format enlarger fully operative enables him to be able to use this camera and also to inspire others looking at different effects.


Using desktop 3D printers is a great way to produce low cost, replacement component parts quickly.


Contact CREAT3D for more information on desktop 3D printing

CREAT3D, Church Street, Caversham, Reading, RG4 8AU

0800 689 10 11


For more information on A-level Photography, contact The Henley College

The Henley College, Deanfield Avenue, Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire RG9 1UH

01491 579988


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