Last year I bought a 2021 Honda Accord Touring in that proper clear-coated shade of gray (Honda calls it Sonic Gray Pearl for some reason). It’s a great car with tons of little luxury features, but the first time I put my bags in the trunk, I noticed there was no trunk pull.
You may think I’m overreacting, but I hate touching my color. Hate it. Thinking that I have to put my greasy fingers on the lid of my trunk to close it is nonsense, and knowing that Honda even designed a factory mounting point for an $ 8 part (that doesn’t on US models is angry. Then it hit me: why not just 3D print?
I mean, if 3D printing and prototyping are good enough for automakers, they are good enough for me, right? I broke out my calipers and took some measurements. Then I designed a part (which you can download here) that could snap into place and let me close my trunk without touching the paint. Three hours later I pulled the finished part out of the print bed of my Prusa MK3.
As it turns out, I’m not the only one who thinks that way. There are numerous groups on Facebook devoted to additive manufacturing of vehicles, including 3D Printing – Auto and Moto. There you will find thousands of people around the world with their own 3D printers who are actively designing parts for their own vehicles or, in some cases, entire vehicles.
You may remember this hero who himself crafted Koenigsegg-like Freevalve technology on his Miata – this is certainly a more practical or powerful example of the 3D printing used in modding cars, but as an opposite counterpoint, the ones print People sometimes get completely ridiculous novelties like this weighted six-piece chicken nugget tray that attaches to the center of an aftermarket steering wheel.
People have also printed useful designs like intakes, engine covers, aerodynamic modifications, and drops of interior changes. However, 3D printing is also extremely useful for restoring vehicles where parts may simply no longer exist or are extremely expensive to reproduce. For example, the image at the top of this article shows a part I designed to replace a discontinued anti-stall kit for a Synapse synchronous blow-off valve – something I bought weeks before giving up and getting it just modeled myself.
When parts aren’t enough, some people create 3D printed tools like these brake line smoothers, camshaft control blocks, a clutch alignment tool, and more. Others print their parts and use methods like Lost PLA Casting to turn plastic into metal.
Whatever you do, a 3D printer undoubtedly has some use. Parts, tools, fixtures – you name it, there is a use. And with easy-to-learn tools like TinkerCAD and Fusion360, it’s finally possible to create a custom part from scratch without ever leaving your home. Maybe it’s finally time to add a 3D printer to your garage.
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