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Daox 12-10-2014 02:41 PM

I'm making custom car parts with a 3d printer

Darin mentioned you guys would be interested in this, so I figured I'd put it up and share some of the fun I've been having. For the past couple of weeks, I've been messing around with a 3d printer that I am borrowing from BenNelson. He was lucky enough to win it in an instructables contest for his DIY EV motorcycle write up. While you can make all sorts of 3d things (so much junk out there), I am using it to make custom car parts.

The first project I've been working on is reviving a product line that I had quite a few years back. I used to make phenolic intake manifold insulators as a performance product for Tercels and Paseos.

The insulator goes between the (aluminum) intake manifold and the head. It keeps the manifold cool and thus keeps the intake air charge cooler for a boost in horsepower that I had measured at just over 4%. Combine that with a smaller throttle body insulator and the gains came just about to 5%. Not bad for a simple bolt on part.

However, these insulators were a big pain to make. The intake manifold insulators took nearly 2 hours to hand carve, and the throttle body insulators took an hour or so. Time became more valuable than money and I stopped making them about 6 years ago.

I've had enough guys bug me over the years to know there is still some interest, and I like to play around. So, I looked into alternative methods of making these insulators. What I found was actually a better material, urethane. It holds up to engine temps and insulates twice as good as the phenolic material I was using. However, it was a two part liquid material, so I would need a mold. I considered using a router to create a mold out of wood or plastic, but nothing ever came of it.

Now, enter the 3d printer. This should allow me to just print a mold! I am a mechanical designer by profession, so I work with 3d software all day long. Drawing up a mold is no big deal. So, I've been learning the 3d printing side of things.

Here is the first mold I made off the printer. It is a throttle body insulator mold.

It didn't work out so great. I don't think I sprayed enough mold release on the little pegs and it bonded to the urethane. I got it out as you can see, but the mold was shot.

The next version I just printed out a few days ago and tried for the first time last night. I sprayed it down good with mold release and also increased the draft angle on the pegs to make it come out easier. That did the trick, and I got a good part.

I do eventually plan on getting around to some eco-minded mods with the printer.

MetroMPG 12-10-2014 02:51 PM

I think this is too cool.

Also, I moved this thread from the Lounge to EM Central because I know you have plans to eventually make eco-related parts with it.

"3D printing: It's not just for gas-wasting anymore!"

3d printing has to be a way for people to make small, affordable runs of parts for popular ecomodder cars. Like... smallish grille blocks or mirror delete plates or foglight hole fillers, or ???

dirtydave 12-10-2014 03:08 PM

I cant wait to see what you make!

Daox 12-10-2014 03:33 PM

2 Attachment(s)
I have a few ideas of things I'd like to make. First off was a nice mount for a kill switch on my shifter instead of the current zip tied thing that was just slapped on.

That idea quickly evolved into just printing a whole new shift knob with a more integrated switch. I still don't have a good model of one though. This is where I left off. I think I need to find a smaller switch. :)

MetroMPG 12-10-2014 03:36 PM

Vortex generators! :)

jcp123 12-10-2014 04:35 PM

Ooh, this could be great...

MetroMPG 12-10-2014 05:29 PM

Another idea: could probably whip up a reusable widget for attaching wheel discs to steelies that is more practical than the zip-tied coroplast bundles I made:
If you could come up with a universal or near-universal widget, I bet people would go for them.

Cobb 12-10-2014 06:15 PM

Wow, those look nice. I was looking at a 3d printer the other day, but it looked like it squirted out toothpaste and the item looked rather tacky and needed lots of sanding.

With your manifold insulators, any mpg gains? Did you also limit or block the heater water flowing to the tb?

CigaR007 12-10-2014 06:51 PM

Cool stuff. Time to be creative!

darcane 12-10-2014 07:18 PM

Cool! What is the maximum size of the parts you can make?

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