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3d printed parts?

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I have seen you guys at HP academy use 3d printed parts in some of your builds (small mounts and such). Do you have any reliability issues with using 3d printed parts? How long do they last? What type of filament do you use? Any slicer setting tips?

I have owned a few 3d printers and have been designing and printing parts for a long time but I have never been confident enough using these parts for my car projects. I have made a few prototype parts for fitment and sanity check before sending the CAD files to a machine shop but these go in the bin as soon as the machined parts arrive.



I have some 3d printed parts in my engine bay. Piping to airfilter made of Nylon Filament.

And I have mounting bracked for solenoids made out of ASA filament. Als are lasting since years now.


It's going to depend on the materials you're using - some 3D printed parts are very strong and will last indefinitely when the correct filament is matched to the purpose. Race teams have been using 3D printed parts for decades, where applicable. There are also metal printing processes, for temperature resistance, high loads, low deflection, etc, where plastics may not be suitable.

I've been thinking of getting one, myself, but can't really justify it for now.

Your printers' capabilities and your suppliers may be able to clarify what will work with what you have and what is available for you, but here're of some options for different applications - https://www.objective3d.com.au/fdm-thermoplastic-materials/ and https://www.objective3d.com.au/polyjet-materials/ NOTE the temperature working ranges, especially for the latter materials.

Thanks for the links! ULTEM seems like a really good material for this application although it costs over $200 for 500g of filament. Nylon might be a good compromise though.

I have been printing parts for almost 10 years but I have not yet experimented with "exotic" materials like nylon or carbon fiber reinforced filaments. I have mostly used PLA, ABS and PETG and feel parts are strong in the x and y but not very strong in the z axis. Also have worried about the temperatures associated with cars and engine bays. Some parts I have used outside have gone brittle quite fast but I guess that is because the material I used wasn't UV resistant.

3D printing has been very usefull when prototyping parts before making them in other materials though.

I will see if I can get a hold of some nylon filament and start out with some brakets and such for my wiring harness.

I need to make a new lower intake manifold and it would be really easy/nice to make the runners on the printer but this might be one of those things where the plastic parts end up as prototypes.


It may be a good idea to have a good talk to your supplier and see what (s)he recommends for your application, those were from one company and so may not represent your actual options.

If you have a dual head printer, perhaps you can use a support structure and 'weave' the filaments for a stronger structure?

Oh, as a general rule, PVC and similar products can be very sensitive to UV - a coat of a plastic friendly paint can usually take care of that.

I am also looking at the same thing, been doing a couple of brackets and small things (for boost solenoids as exemple) lately, and as I don't have any machine shop equipment, the quality of the parts I make suffer badly. I think the investment in a good 3D printer would be less than metal work equipment. But I'm still debating about going into 3D printing, as I'm not sure about how long it would last in an engine bay for exemple... so thanks for the links Gord, it will really help me choosing material and calculating costs!

I saw some Papadakis Racing posts on Instagram and they made some covers and plugs to prevent debris from entering the engine / turbo when removed, I really liked the idea... but still it's not something that would be actually installed while the car is on the track.

How often do you use 3D printing for prototyping?

Thank you!

I haven't myself - don't currently have a real use for one and can't justify the cost for a 'toy'. I have been keeping an eye on developments, though, and am on some mailing lists, such as the supplier I linked to earlier.

Most printers have options for the resolution, how thin the print lines are as that may improve the finish - there are also products available to smooth the exterior for a glossier finish. You may also need to experiment a little with print temperatures - that may help with any de-lamination. A big part of the service life is going to be selecting the right material, though, naturally. It may also be a good compromise to use metal inserts for the high load/wear areas, if required, like threaded inserts rather than tapping the plastic.

However, I know it is used a lot for rapid prototyping as it's much cheaper, and faster, than having something machined that turns out to need further work. With the correct material, and print paths, it can be used for final products too, if the draft prototype is correct.

There are companies that will print to your design, and will assist in selecting print material if you're unsure, the print is larger than your platter, or your printer can't use the material you want to use.

As an aside, those same companies may be able to print the part in an increasing number of metals, such as stainless steels and titanium, as well as the more common aluminium and steel alloys - might be something to consider if you've a complex collector-flange assembly you'd like to make for a turbo' installation. Other applications that might be applicable could be heat shields or ducting that might be hard to make otherwise, like for brake disc and caliper cooling?

Hmmm, thinking on that, I wonder if there are companies that can 3D print ceramics? Ah, yes, there are, not sure what you'd use it for on a vehicle, but I'm sure there are applications for that too.

Some of you seem to be considering inlet manifolds and are unsure of whether the plastic will be a good chaoice - there are some companies that will 3D print sand moulds to your design, and send them to founderies where they can cast the parts for you. Haven't done it, but apparently it can be a good option, if expensive?

If there's interest in a specific process I'll see what I can find for you chaps, if you include your location(s).

I have done some prototyping. I attached pictures of the pulley and trigger wheel which I had made a few month ago for my 1,6l 1971 Fiat twin cam engine. I could test fit the part before having it made and I could also have the VR sensor bracket designed before I had the finished pulley and trigger wheel. I have also prototyped some other brackets and mounts but never used actual printed parts on my builds. After seeing some in the hp academy youtube videos I will give it a go though. I will also start with some cable brackets and the firewall plate for cable passthrough was a nice idea. So much easier to just print out a plate than have one made out of aluminium... As for the intake manifold I would like on my duratec 30, it would be nice to print since advanced shapes are easy to make. For this I will most likely prototype with my printer and have some parts made and others I will fabricate myself. I don't think I can justify the cost of having parts cast.


Attached Files

I was skeptical of 3d printing for a long while, but what changed my mind was the idea that you can use to to make molds as well as just plastic parts.

PLA doesnt chemically bond to epoxy, so you can make moulds for carbon fiber or whatever else, and so long as it will release mechanically (still need some wax) it pops off fine.

Then when I saw some larger bed size printers available is what sold me on it.

I've just recently been playing with HIPS which although its touted as a dissolvable material, its incredibly impervious to just about everything except D-Limonene. It doesnt absorb moisture like Nylon, PLA etc (Nylon is awful to print) and has a high glass transition temp (about 100deg)

So I've got some bits in the car printed from HIPS that I'd expect to last forever.

The carbon gear shifter below was made from a dissolvable core that was 3D printed.

Some of the other bits have just been prototypes and mockups, but it's been amazing even if just for testing clearances and bolt access etc.

Some picture spam:

Printed a housing for a Bussmann fusebox to fit it in the center console, and consolidate my fuses and relays to a single position.

3D printed a core from HIPS, laid carbon over it then dissolved out the middle for a strong light part.

This was a friend's design, it ended up getting cast from stainless and worked well.

Mockup of a gearbox crossmember, obviously not usable but held the gearbox in place while I figured out engine mounts etc.

I want to make a carbon fibre plenum, I havent made it past the concept stage but being able to print and check clearances is great.

Then I can print molds from the same model that is used to create these parts.

Working on a battery box that has a kill switch and high amp fuse, for a small lithium battery.

A friend printed ITB adapters and trumpets from Carbon fibre infused Nylon.

It works but Nylon is a little bit flexy so you cant print long runners or anything with it.

3D printed a dash cluster which accepts the factory plugs in the back, so its plug and play swap for original cluster (plus a canbus plug)

But so it has indicators, lights, fuel level etc.

CF parts made from PLA molds

Printed some little backshell things to tidy up some wiring

It's been awesome in ways I couldnt have imagined at the start, I wouldnt have been able to do something like peice together a digidash if not for being able to print the surround as I dont know how else I could have made it.

If you can model better than you can fabricate things, (puts hand up) then 3d printing is a great way to bridge the gap from on screen to real parts.

Actually seeing a real part in place, makes you think "hmmm this would be better if..."

I would dread to get some CNC parts done straight from a cad file without a physical fitup, and then finding "ahh crap, not enough bolt clearance" or similar.

Then there's the whole other top of, "old car cant find random clips or parts" where it's a life saver in it's own right.

A++ would trade again

Some really useful info in this thread, thanks to Carl and David

Thanks for sharing!

Yes, some excellent examples there, David. Another advantage is not only is it easy to redesign, as you pointed out, but if a part does get broken in a mishap, the part's file is still saved and a replacement can simply be printed off again.

I mentioned 3D printing of metals earlier - the Indy Cars Aero-screen use a 5 piece, printed, titanium structure that is precision welded into one piece. The five piece design is probably due to limitations in the print bed size.

Forgot my favourite one so far.

A friend with a dyno was asking for some intake shapes to test on a high strung 4AGE.

I've always wanted to see if there's any benefit from a big bellmouth design with a particular geometry that usually makes it tricky to fit.

These were only PLA and lived to see another day.

The results were interesting, they didnt make any better power than a smaller dia entry, and acted like a shorter length runner than the overall length.

Vid if anyone's interested, was really cool to see the results of different lengths and designs:


Very cool. What machine are you printing with, @Davidv?

Video is also very cool, thanks again David.

I use a Creality CR10 S5, which I bought because it has a 500x500x500 print area.

However realistically most prints are small, and the big dimensions have some hefty disadvantages to go with it.

300x300 would probably have been fine for 90% of my prints and saved a lot of setup headaches.

Cool, that's actually been what I'm vacillating on as well (bed size vs. setup and reliability of the rig/gantry/what have you), I'm happy to see that you were at least able to accomplish results like that with a CR10.

@Davidv would you be interested in printing a prototype of an aluminium extrusion for me?

I'll consider it, only because you've got an old Toyota :D

There's no PM function on here but I'll send you a message on FB.

We usually reply within 12hrs (often sooner)

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