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Wilson's Auto Restoration Blog

Advances in 3D Printing are Expanding Possibilities for Classic Car Restorations

Locating hard to find parts for your classic car or truck is quickly becoming a thing of the past.  Thanks to the advances in 3D printing and its accessibility, we can now make hard to find parts out of plastic and metal like never before. The classic car restoration industry is literally on the brink of eliminating the hunt for car parts all together.

Major automakers like Chevrolet and Porsche are way ahead of the curve and have been extensively using 3D technology to manufacture and remanufacture parts for their high-end vehicles.  At Chevrolet, 3D printing has taken on a powerful role in their Chevrolet Motorsports division.  They are using the technology in both on- and off-road vehicles. This season, the Corvette C8.R, IndyCar, NASCAR Camaro and Silverado race teams have accumulated more than 80,000 miles of competition in vehicles built with 3D-printed parts.

Since 2018, Porsche has been able to 3d print rare parts almost instantaneously in comparison to manufacturing methods previously used. And they can make them for a fraction of the cost.  They use a 3d printing technology called selective laser melting.  It’s a technique that uses a high power-density laser to melt and fuse metallic powders together. The part that is needed is first scanned to develop CAD data.  A laser then melts the metal in the desired spots to create the new shape, one layer at a time.

Big auto makers aren’t the only ones getting into the game.  The technology is quickly becoming more accessible to classic car and truck restoration shops as well.  Jay Leno has partnered up with Stratasys, a leading 3D technology firm, so that Jay can use their printers to service his large collection of vehicles, located at his Big Dog Garage in Burbank, California, with 3D printed custom parts.

The History Channel’s hit show “Counting Cars” frequently uses the technology to restore and renovate various classic vehicles, showing off some nifty, new designs only 3D printing can offer. They’ve put it to use on a number of car parts, a trike and even a reconstruction of the “Batmobile”.

How long do you think it will be before you are able to walk down to your local auto-parts store and order a part on the fly?  They will use a 3D printer to create the part you need.   Or better yet, have an inexpensive 3D printer right in your garage workspace where you can make your own parts.

A popular classic car show, Fifth Gear, from our cousins across the pond in the U.K. have a great clip that shows how advancements in 3D scanning and printing are making a huge impact on reproducing parts for classic cars.


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