How to make your first 3d-printed vehicle!

How to make your first 3d-printed vehicle!

Make Your Own 3D Car Parts

If you need parts for a new car, you won’t have to look hard to get them. Original factory OEM parts will be available from your local dealer, and less expensive Asian parts will be available on ebay. Pretty simple. But what if you have an older car, or you are restoring an antique car? Finding parts can much more of a challenge. Here’s a solution for you: Maybe you should just make them yourself. That’s right, make them yourself with a 3D printer. The best part is you don’t even have to own a 3D printer. You still design the part but instead of printing it yourself, you ship the design off to a professional 3D printing company. Let’s closer look.

How 3D printing works

There are many types of 3D printers. They may look different and use different materials, but all utilize the same basic approach for making a 3D object -they build up the object one layer at a time. The process starts at the bottom on the base layer and then adds additional layers up from there. It’s actually pretty simple; it builds an object in 3 dimensions just like standard printers print something in 2 dimensions.

First, you make a 3D model

The object you want to print starts with a 3D image of the item. This is usually created by using a 3D drawing program. After the 3D object has been designed, the object is then sliced into hundreds (or thousands) of ultra-thin horizontal layers by the software program.

Then print it

After design, all the 3D printer has to do is lay all the ultra-thin horizontal layers one by one on top of each other with a material that fuses together.

You can buy inexpensive 3D printers from many sources.  Most deposit a material that is a polymer, sort of like an ultra-fine automated glue gun. The polymer comes in spools and in a wide variety of types and colors.  More professional 3D-printed metal parts are made by “selective laser sintering” which involves heating and solidifying a granular metal material via a high-power laser.

Restoring a 1962 Valiant

The folks at Interstate Chrysler of West Monroe, a local Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Ram dealer in Monroe, LA, gave us a great example of an application of using a 3D printer to make parts for a 1962 Plymouth Valiant

A fellow with the user name MadMorrie on the instructables.com website needed some door handles for a 1962 Valiant he was restoring.  You might ask, “Why not look for original handles (NOS) ones.” The problem is that if he could even find them, the originals were made of a weak diecast metal that doesn’t age particularly well. He needed “new” handles.

The first step MadMorrie took was to use a 3D modeling program to create the 3D model of the handle. This wasn’t difficult because he had the old broken ones to copy. Once he finished the 3D model, he uploaded it to the 3D printing company ShapeWays.  MadMorrie could have had the handles made of stainless steel by Shapeways but instead selected a strong black plastic. After placing the order, the handles arrived in 2 weeks, and they fit his Valiant perfectly.

Want to give it a try?

As we mentioned, there are companies on the web that will do the 3D printing for you. Many of them have 3D libraries of objects that you can use, in addition.  If you have something that you would like to create, give 3D printing a try. It’s going to be a technology that is going to be quite common in the future.

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