Okay, well, maybe just a car body.

Some background links:

The idea is to:

  • take a model of the shell of a car,
  • thicken it to say 2mm,
  • slice it in to a bunch of panels,
  • print it.

I’ve been interested in 3D printing a car body for a while. I’ve read about some other stories of people doing 3D printed bodies for replica Lamborghinis or Aston Martins - basically unattainable stuff for regular people. It’s a pretty great idea. From what I can tell, those vehicles used custom tube chassis. But what about re-bodying an existing car?

I want to explore doing it on my own.

Here’s what I’m thinking:

  • grab a model offline (or draw your own - of your favorite car)
  • add some thickness to its shell in Meshmixer (using the “offset” tool in the edit menu. I’m thinking 2mm)
  • then use Fusion 360 (or Meshmixer, I think - I’m not really as familiar,) and cut the model up in to pieces small enough to fit on to your 3D printer. I use an ender 5 plus so I can do pretty big pieces. The Ender 5 plus is barely big enough. I wouldn’t even attempt this with anything smaller - the bigger, the better

You should make sure your printer is dialed in enough to do some extreme overhangs so you can print without any supports. Supports are going to be a big waste of filament and you’ll have a lot of printing to do. I print one piece at a time so a failure doesn’t waste a lot of filament. I also swapped to a 0.8mm nozzle so prints go pretty quickly.

I estimate the 3D printing costs at approximately $400 worth of ABS at $20/spool for a complete body. There will be approximately 20 spools used over 80 panels. Each approximately 300mm x 300mm x 2mm “panel” is about 250g of filament so I can get about 4 “panels” from one spool. A little leftover from the spools is ok, because I will use a 3D pen to “weld” then apenls together.

The body will obviously be a collection of “panels”. I will weld them together using a 3D printing pen and ABS. My plan is to set two edges together, and scribble across the edge while extruding from the pen. After I spot things together in one or two spots I can

After the body is together, I am going to wrap it in fiberglass. Since I used ABS to print, I believe I can dissolve ABS, Acetone and bits of fiberglass such as https://amzn.to/3kbgiF7 then paint that mixture on to the body. This will give a “hair” fiber-laced body for the fiberglass sheets and resin to really stick to.

It would be interesting to start a business producing 3D printed and fiberglass or carbon fiber-wrapped bodies for people to assemble on their own chassis.

Some chassis that I think would be really great platforms:

C4 or C5 Corvettes for front engined stuff - decent handling platforms, decent brakes, etc
Porsche Boxster S for mid engined - again decent handling platform, good brakes, good transmission if you want to do 400+hp, etc