Spare Parts, Fix-It-Yourself Guides Hit the Market as Brands Ponder Repairability


Proposed right-to-repair laws and increased government regulation may one day force manufacturers to make the spare parts and instructions needed to fix their products available to all. Some companies have already begun doing so, with the aim of giving customers more options for mending broken items, while also boosting their own sustainability credentials.

“If you can design to be more modular, accessible and repairable, overall, you will get a better experience for your end users,” said Daniel O’Brien, general manager of HTC Corp.’s virtual reality Vive business for the Americas. HTC Vive last month started publishing repair manuals for its consoles and selling some replacement parts through the community repair site iFixit.

“That’s especially true when you deal with our customers—high-tech enthusiasts that are used to building their own PCs,” Mr. O’Brien said.

Right-to-repair activists say some consumer electronics brands, along with manufacturers of items like furniture and medical devices, deliberately monopolize the aftercare market of their own products to generate revenue from repairs and service plans, as well as to boost sales of new products.

Many companies don’t make available the spare parts or instructions needed to independently fix products, and can design items in a way that makes them difficult disassemble for repair and incompatible with unauthorized replacement parts.

With control of repairs, companies can push customers into disposing of electronics that could be fixed or refurbished, said Ugo Vallauri, policy lead and co-founder of the Restart Project, a London-based nonprofit.

The right-to-repair movement has caught the…

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