Sunday, 29 November 2020

Low Effort Fan Repair for GPU (broken graphics card fan)

A household computer got a few fan blades broken off the graphics card when using compressed air for cleaning. Turns out it still seemed to mostly work okay, but over time more of the blades broke off until the fan couldn't do the job any more.

The usual way to fix this would be to buy a replacement fan but two things made that seem like a not-great idea:

  1. The GPU is old (GTX 750) so parts aren't easy to come by.
  2. The fan looks integrated in to the enclosure and doesn't look like it can be easily replaced.
I instead opted to fix it in a dumb but effective a low-effort way.  I printed a replacement fan, snapped the remaining blades off the hub, and glued the new fan blades on top. Having it hollow helped center it visually so it's not off-balance.

Obviously this isn't optimal, but considering how long the GPU trucked along with a fan whose blades were nearly 50% gone, I think this might be okay.
  • Fan 3D model downloaded from here: https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:3620483
  • I scaled it down a little so it would fit on top of the hub
  • I glued it down, gave it a spin with my fingers and adjusted until it looked centered.
Fan blades nearly 50% gone. It surprisingly trucked along okay for quite a while.

Snap off the old blades. Instead of trimming the little bits off I just opted to glue the new fan right on top.

3D-printed Replacement

A few spins by finger verify that it is centered.

This is obviously not as good as mounting it to hug the hub, but this way I didn't have to 1) clean all the little nubs smooth, and 2) I didn't have to worry about matching the size of the printed part to the fan spindle.  Whenever 3D printing replacement parts that mate to existing pieces, there's always the challenge of getting dimensions just right.  This way I didn't have to.

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