The work in a specialized car workshop is not just about shaping metal sheets or replacing engines. Restoration of the original design requires a jeweler’s accuracy, especially when it comes to particular elements of the car equipment or body. That is where the use of resin 3D printers becomes indispensable.
Vintage cars, particularly the ones built before the Second World War were composed of many tiny sophisticated elements. Owners of luxurious cars could afford customization, thus applied elements were unique whereas their production was time-consuming and cost intensive.
– The thin needles in the display of tachometers and speedometers mounted in the vehicles provided by Mercedes Benz were beautifully crafted with a crescent moon at their tips. These are no longer produced. It is possible to order similar ones cut with a diamond blade. However, they would be shaped in a standard pattern losing the unique spirit provided by the crescent moon. The Zortrax Inkspire printer can recreate such elements in a few minutes. In addition, designers can customize their thickness and length to specific meters. “The needles, which come out of the printer, are the ultimate elements of the equipment in cars we produce,” said Bartłomiej Błaszczak, director of design and engineering for ABcar Oldtimers.
One of the cars the restoration of which would be impossible without an accurate stamp technology is a Ferrari 599 owned by Patryk Mikiciuk, a Polish automotive journalist. According to his plan, the cost of renovation of the car was expected to be barely a fraction of the price for a new one, nonetheless its appearance and equipment should not lose in quality. The challenge for this particular vehicle consisted in reconstructing a system of LEDs fitted in the steering wheel. In the original vehicle LEDs were mounted behind a dark, semi-transparent cover. When switched off, the steering wheel appeared to be completely black. Once switched on, the light of signaling device was clearly visible. The easiest and fastest solution was to print the cover with the use of black resin which allows light transparency necessary for this element while maintaining an adequate thickness of printed layers.
The components created by 3D printers are perfectly useful for vintage cars, but this technology may be successfully implemented by other companies and car workshops facing the problem of hard-to-reach spare parts. The search for small elements necessary for reconstruction may last several months, whereas printing replacements and their subsequent installation is just a question of one working day and much lower costs.