How 3D Printers are Changing the Classic Car Industry:
Technology has brought us a long way, and 3D printers continue to soar expectations of high tech. One new way that such machinery is being used is for printing old car parts. One of the hardships that vintage and classic car owners have is that there are little to no replacements available. In fact, television host Jay Leno goes to his rapid prototyping 3D printer when he needs a part for one of his classic cars.
The 3D printer works as follows:
“Rather than have a machinist try to copy the heater and then build it, we decided to redesign the original using our NextEngine 3D scanner and Dimension 3D printer. These incredible devices allow you to make the form you need to create almost any part. The scanner can measure about 50,000 points per second at a density of 160,000 dots per inch (dpi) to create a highly detailed digital model. The 3D printer makes an exact copy of a part in plastic, which we then send out to create a mold. Some machines can even make a replacement part in cobalt-chrome with the direct laser sintering process. Just feed a plastic wire–for a steel part you use metal wire–into the appropriate laser cutter.
Inside the printer, the print head goes back and forth, back and forth, putting on layer after layer of plastic to form a 3D part. If there are any irregularities in the originals, you can remove them using software. Once the model is finished, any excess support material between moving parts is dissolved in a water-based solution. Complexity doesn’t matter, but the size of the object does determine the length of the process. Making a little part might take 5 hours. The White’s feedwater heater required 33 hours.”
Leno has found that the 3D printer works more reliably than working with an error-prone machinist. The machinist could make the part incorrectly, although you’d still have to part for the work. The scanner allows you to make an exact copy in plastic, see if it is correct, then send it to the machinist to make a copy in the right material. It seems that 3D printing continues to help various sectors, and with this new process, car owners can benefit, too.
3D Printing is becoming more and more popular. With the increase in demand for custom fabricated parts expect to see an increase in 3D printing business in the Metro West area. This will be great for local contractors, automotive repair shops and collector car enthusiast.
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