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Printing small parts for car restoration

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Andrew Evans15/04/2019 22:21:39
197 forum posts

Has anyone got any experience or opinions on 3D printing small components for use on cars?

I am doing various jobs on my 90s BMW and a lot of the plastic parts such as trim fixings, screws etc tend to get brittle with age and snap or just disintegrate. Replacements cost a fortune if you can even find the part number. Would 3D printing parts be a feasible solution? Is the plastic going to be strong enough?

Any advise is appreciated.

Andy

Hacksaw15/04/2019 22:24:06
386 forum posts
150 photos

Look at polymorph..? But not for places that get hot !

Paul Lousick15/04/2019 23:09:28
1006 forum posts
468 photos

There are different types of plastics for 3D printing. Some stronger than others. Nylon filament is available and used for making gears.

Paul.

The Novice Engineer15/04/2019 23:18:58
47 forum posts
20 photos

Andy

A few thoughts ....

Are you aiming to print the items yourself or get them made for you, and what sort of size are you looking at .

If you are looking for a bureau , I have a few friends who have used Shapeways , they provide a good service and online advice.

Home printing using filament FDM 3D printers is practical for objects that will fit within 200mm -275mm cubic build volume. 3D Printers with larger build platforms start getting expensive [unless you make it your self !}

The best material would probably be ABS as this can survive heat better and can be finished to a smooth surface.

You will always have a patterned surface finish with an FDM printer that will need work [post processing] if you want a smooth surface finish.

The Stereolithography 3D printing process will produce much finer results but is more expensive and is really for professional use ... or if you are really dedicated !

For ABS you need a printer with a heated bed and for best results an enclosed build space to keep the surrounding air temperature constant ~70C. This helps with curling and similar defects.

A number of cheap 3D printers only work with PLA filament,

If you decide to make them yourself then be prepared for a learning curve and occasional frustration till it comes right !

Steve

Andrew Evans16/04/2019 00:05:37
197 forum posts

Thanks All

It's something I would want to do myself. I do know (basic) CNC milling and CAD so that should help.

I have considered 3D printing for a few years but could never decide if I could make genuinely useful objects with cheaper DIY printers.

Jeff Dayman16/04/2019 00:20:18
1445 forum posts
37 photos

Bear in mind that if you 3D print ABS by the FDM process it usually ends up about 70% as strong as injection moulded ABS parts even if made really well with great inter-layer bonding.

If you buy a higher end printer you could print in polycarbonate with various reinforcing fillers including carbon fibre - these parts are very durable- but the print machine and materials cost far more than ABS.

If you are doing functional repairs that pass casual inspection you could use 3D printed parts. If you are restoring toward a competition, 3D printing will likely not cut the mustard.

Stereolithography can make beautifully detailed accurate parts but the resin used is too brittle for say door handles. Might be OK for an interior vent or button cover but if someone belts it or touches it on a cold day it will likely break.

Underhood parts for prototyping are made every day in high heat nylon by SLS process, including intake manifolds and coolant system parts. They can not be finished to a gloss polish though, and are usually sand-like finish in off white colour. Very useful for development/ racing / prototyping but again not going to pass inspection at a concours d' elegance.

Barrie Lever16/04/2019 08:24:14
157 forum posts
34 photos
Posted by Andrew Evans on 15/04/2019 22:21:39:

Has anyone got any experience or opinions on 3D printing small components for use on cars?

I am doing various jobs on my 90s BMW and a lot of the plastic parts such as trim fixings, screws etc tend to get brittle with age and snap or just disintegrate. Replacements cost a fortune if you can even find the part number. Would 3D printing parts be a feasible solution? Is the plastic going to be strong enough?

Any advise is appreciated.

Andy

Porsche Silverstone recently done a restoration on a 924 Martini special edition from 1977 and they 3D printed the the plastic clips that hold the petrol pipes on the under body. The original clips were no longer manufactured

As time goes on this process will be used more frequently in restorations.

B.

Neil Wyatt16/04/2019 08:56:08
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Moderator
15705 forum posts
659 photos
73 articles

Mintronics who helped sort the Alibre Atom3D trial have established a bureau for 3D scanning and printing. Things like parts for car restorations are one of their specialities. They could scan complex parts for you if required as well as print them.

I suspect you will want something with a finer finish than fused filament for decorative parts.

**LINK**

Neil

Andrew Evans16/04/2019 19:37:30
197 forum posts

Thanks for the info - i am starting to look at printers now.

Andy Carruthers17/04/2019 07:38:56
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200 forum posts
18 photos

Hi Andrew,

I 3D print Jaguar X Type headlamp adjusters in ABS which deviate from the original design to prevent shearing across the Z axis - you may find similar issues with parts so some trial and error orienting the physical build will be required

ABS can be smoothed using acetone, this gives stronger inter-layer adhesion and smoother finish, again, some trial and error required

Have a look at Robox printers which crop up on eBay / Gumtree from time to time, US imports are just fine, no voltage issues just a mains lead change. Beware the earlier single extruder models have a tendency to leak, replacement heads are available ~£120 and there are a few other gotchas, nothing insurmountable

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