There has been a lot of talk lately about “rapid prototyping” and how 3D printers will be able to print anything thing in three dimensions with the click of a mouse. Whether it’s marketing or journalists sensationalizing future technology, there’s a lot more to rapid prototyping than they would lead you to believe. I’ve spent years honing my skills with Photoshop so that I have a good working knowledge of this piece of powerful 2D software, but I just don’t have the time to learn 3D software! I realize there is an exciting future with 3D printing as the technology progresses, but as always there is a cost benefit ratio to anything I do for my business. The potential, however, was there.
I recently met a gentleman, fellow car enthusiast, and model maker interested in exploring the future of making reproduction parts for Vintage cars. I was very interested in discussing his limitations, and my requirements to make these parts, and I was very excited to have him give it a shot.
Our first little project was to make a plastic junction box found on 330GTCs. It found on the left inner fender and covers the junction wires to the alternator. This piece was originally made in Bakelite, cracked very easily, and lost on many GTCs. Steven easily created a digital file, and had the part 3D printed. The trick was to get the surface of the part to match the original. He added a couple steps to the manufacturing process to recreate the finish I was looking for. His experience with model making, and familiarity with the processes and materials, helped make a perfect piece on the first try!
I checked the fit on a car, and it looks great! The modern plastic this part was made out of should be more durable than the original.
My discussions with Steven was to create digital files of these parts so they can be printed to order. I can supply the original pieces and he can supply the expertise to make exact reproductions in various materials…and I didn’t have to struggle with learning a new skill set!
Steven’s company is