When you think of 3D printing your mind instantly thinks of Star Trek or some other science fiction movie where characters have the ability to create whatever they want, with technological help, of course. How many times have you wished you could push a computer button and materialize the one obsolete part stalling your classic car’s restoration? Well, beam me up Scotty! The future of 3D printed car parts is here.
The Future of 3D Printing is Now
Not New. Identical.
The mystical process begins when an object is scanned and converted into a 3D CAD drawing. The design is sent to a 3D printer where layers of powdered materials (plastic, metal, carbon fiber) are fused together with a laser to create an identical rendition, down to the imperfections and blemishes, of your desired part.
These printers can produce already assembled objects with working parts. If you scan a working vise grip, then you will get a working vise grip – just made out of a lightweight material. 3D printers have yet to master recreating intricate circuit boards like GPS units or smartphones, yet the process is creating medical miracles every day. Prosthetic hands and limbs are being customized to comfortably fit individual patients. Titanium implants are being printed for the jaw, knees and spine. Researchers can now print organic tissue, grown from cells obtained from blood. It’s only a matter to time.
What You Scan is What You Get
3D parts eliminate the question of whether or not parts will fit. You can easily test the newly rendered piece on your car before the final part is produced. This allows for adjustments to be made on the computer and a new part printed. A mold can be made from the final version and sent to be fabricated.
Envision it, Then Print it
Even parts that are incomplete or damaged can be recreated using 3D printing. The fragments are scanned then reassembled by the computer software. A mock-up is produced for testing. 3D printing offers restorers the opportunity to customize their classic cars. 3D printers create anything you can design.
Jay Knows 3D Printing
Well-known car enthusiast Jay Leno champions the 3D printing process for classic car parts because he knows it works. When his 1907 White Steamer needed a feed-water heater and the original part could no longer be repaired, he used a NextEngine scanner and a Stratasys 3D printer to create a new one. It took 33 hours to complete before his antique car was back on the road.
No More Time Consuming Searches
Fortunately, the price of both scanners and printers is dropping, albeit slowly. If you don’t want to purchase one for your home garage, many restoration shops are now using 3D printing. Put an end to desperate searching for that elusive grill or door handle, have them print one for you.
Skyfall Bond Car a 3D Model
Did you really think the producers blew up a classic Aston Martin DB-5 in the James Bond film Skyfall? (They aren’t that crazy.) It is a scaled down 3D model, painstakingly scanned and re-created. It looked so much like the original version, producers shot close ups of it, rather than the real one.
Are 3D Parts Considered Original?
New technology always brings new questions. Is an original parts car still original if some of its parts came from a 3D printer? Is a car with 3D parts considered modified not restored? Are parts manufacturers having their patents infringed upon when restorers freely scan their old parts? All are questions we can debate until the proverbial classic cows come home.
Finish Your Restoration with 3D Printing
The reality of this issue is original parts are getting harder and harder to find. The parts you do find are often in fragile condition themselves. Bottom line, if you want to finish your restoration and get your classic car on the road, 3D printing can help you get there. Take care of yourself and your car and let the future sort itself out.
Collector and Classic Car Insurance for Less
Every collector is unique, which is why we customize our policies to each individual. No one size fits all coverage here! Let the friendly staff at Classic Auto Insurance answer all your questions and find the right policy for your needs. Visit our website at www.classicins.com and see how we can help safeguard your dream car.