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3d Printing can make anything, including improvements to your car! Come see how we model and print replacement items and custom accessories for our cars.

  1. 3d Model Replacement Parts
  2. Create Custom Car Accessories
  3. Easily Improve Your Parts

1. 3d Model Replacement Parts

In order to get your desired parts to a 3d printer, you must have a 3d model. There are a few ways of obtaining a model to print: find a free model on a hosting site like thingiverse.com or prusaprinters.org; model it yourself using software like Fusion 360, AutoCAD, or TinkerCAD. The first method is very easy, but you have to be lucky enough for someone to offer the exact model you need in a quality you want. The second method requires a little more effort (we can teach you how to model!) but you can get super precise and custom models.

In my case, I need to replace a plastic handle for my 2002 Land Cruiser that I can’t find on Ebay. To do this, I took the handle from the the passenger’s seat and used it as my measuring tool. Using some calipers, I measured each face, side, hole, stud, and angle, and entered those dimensions into Fusion 360. Once I had a model that I was happy with, I transferred the 3d model into the printer’s slicing software. This software cuts the model into super thin slices and tells the printer how to make it.

Even if I could have found this very rare and old part on Ebay, printing it ourselves is significantly cheaper. A roll of the printer’s plastic filament is around $20. So, to print this part and the test parts only cost me a few cents. While 3d printed parts may not be as durable as injected molded pieces, you can adjust the material setting to get as close as you can for very little money. 3d printers are becoming more affordable each year and their capabilities grow as well. You can take an idea from your head, into a modeling program, and have a physical object in a few hours. It’s truly a super power.

2. Create Custom Car Accessories

Besides making a replacement part from an existing copy, I wanted to solve a problem that had irritated me in the car. Since my Land Cruiser is older, the cup holders can’t accept larger cups or water bottles. There is an odd, rectangular cubby hole in the console that I want to turn into a bottle holder. Using the same steps as before, I measured the existing area, transferred those measurements into Fusion and started working. This part may take a bit of engineering prowess (I have very little), but I was able to make an insert that fit in the cubby hole and had provisions for a water bottle. After some trial prints, I was really happy with the solution I found. Now, that problem is forever gone and I made it myself.

3. Easily Improve Your Parts

3d printing for your car can be really rewarding. But make sure that you are choosing a material that can withstand the temperature swings inside a close car. I used PETG, a tougher plastic that isn’t affected as much as traditional PLA plastic is. This will help with the durability and lifespan of your new car accessories. And, if you find that your part isn’t working as expected after months of bumping around and wear and tear, you can print another one. If needed, you can easily make design changes to your 3d model and print a better version. Doing all of your design work in a program like Fusion 360 allows you to iterate and change without having to spend money on materials. If you need to print a changed model, 3d printing filament is super inexpensive as we’ve mentioned, and you can print lots of them.

Make Your Car Your Own

3d printing accessories for your car is way above going to AutoZone and buying fake hood scoops. It is about solving problems that you face every day and making your situation better for you. You have the power to make custom parts and possibly sell them to help others. 3d printing offers you a way to look beyond those daily irritations and actually do something about it. If you don’t have a 3d printer, most local libraries have them available, or you can Google a local Maker’s Space. Desktop 3d printers are so easy to find, but do take practice to master. Surely someone in your community has one that you can use to solve your problems. Look around your space and find something that you can tackle, and get to work.