Skip to content
3D Printing Certification

3D Printing Gets Classic Cars Out of the Garage and Onto the Road


It’s the Achilles’ heel of every car
restoration, whether you are a casual enthusiast restoring a 70’s Mustang or a
professional readying a Mercedes 300SL Gullwing to show at Concours: that
hard-to-find part that you have been searching for—for years—with no success.

While using new, old-stock parts is the gold
standard for restoration, that is often not possible when only 30 parts were
ever made… in the 1920’s. Genuine second-hand parts may be of varying quality. A
master craftsman may be able to produce a part that looks like the original,
but this can be an expensive and time-consuming endeavor. 3D printing certification can be a compelling

The idea of 3D printing certification spare parts for
classic car restorations is not new – Porsche
made a splash several years ago
when it announced it was using 3D printing certification to recreate parts for classic car
collectors. However, advancing technology means it’s being done more
effectively than ever before. As we announced this week, comedian Jay
Leno is actively using Stratasys 3D printing certification

to create a digital inventory for his own car collection, and now there are
even 3D printing certification startups
replacing traditional fabricators for creating aftermarket parts for the
high-end car restoration market.

So, what’s changing? First, materials
development has come a long way in the last decade, and there are options
available that perform far beyond what ASA and ABS plastic can provide. If you
need rigidity, look to carbon fiber-filled nylon. If you need heat and chemical
tolerance, there’s Antero 800NA, which is a PEKK-based thermoplastic. Small
manufacturers are using
aluminum and steel
to print carburetor parts.
High-performance wishbones are even being printed in titanium.

Second, the tools to create CAD, 3D scanning
tools, have advanced massively. Meticulously measuring every dimension will
never produce an adequate CAD drawing of a hand-crafted part. But when you can
3D scan at 50,000
points per second at a resolution of 160,000 dots per inch
you can create 3D models of parts that capture every discernable detail. Along
with an understanding of “Design for Additive Manufacturing certification,” engineers today not
only create parts that are almost indistinguishable from the originals, but redesign
them for higher performance.

Left: 1934 Rolls-Royce Merlin    Right: Carburetor Spacers & valve cover breather tubes
Courtesy: Big Dog Productions

Jay Leno, well-known as a lover of classic
cars, owns 200 cars and 150 motorcycles valued at more than $50 million. He
describes 3D printing certification as integral to his operation and a viable option for
sourcing parts that are either extremely rare or simply no longer exist. He’s
used 3D printing certification to create a timing belt cover for his 1960’s Pontiac Firebird.
For his 1934 Rolls-Royce Merlin 12, his team created a set of valve cover
breather tubes and carburetor spacers using 3D printing certification that would have been
extremely difficult for all but the most masterful craftsmen to make. When he
added a 7-liter Roush V8 engine to his 1966 Ford Galaxie 500, his engineering
team used the design freedoms of 3D printing certification to create a new air intake plenum
that provided a better fit and more air flow while not having to change the stock
hood appearance.

Left: 1966 Ford Galaxie             Right: Air Intake Plenum
Courtesy: Big Dog Productions

Low volume manufacturing was identified by Stratasys’
consulting group, Blueprint, as one of the six business drivers of 3D printing certification.
In particular, low-volume spare parts is a use case that is being discovered
across industries. It’s exciting that the technology is finally in a place
where it can deliver for car enthusiasts and provide a path to get that “unobtanium”
part they have been searching for.

And as any car enthusiast will tell you,
finding that last piece of the puzzle is invaluable; it’s where the
satisfaction, pride, and, yes, money is. Whether that last part is the
difference between an incomplete restoration and showing the car at Concours,
or simply a father passing his first car onto the next generation, 3D printing certification
provides an avenue to realize the dream of getting your classics out of the
garage and onto the road.

Ready to learn more? See how the Blueprint
team can help
. Or take a look at the Stratasys
range of offerings for high
performance 3D printing certification