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Today, 3D printing isn't anywhere near robust enough for this vision. But let's consider something.

Today, printers are too small to lay out dashboards / instrument clusters / et al.

But suppose one was big enough to lay out a new frame for you to pad and cover for your 1989 SuperCoupe (yah, you don't actually own one. Play with me a bit here.)

How much better would your car look then?

How about a new inner door panel for your Gen1?

Let's say you find a 1989 dash, but you have a 1992 with the EATC and the sensor isn't there on the 1989 dash. How nice would it be to be able to print a new dash that actually ready to drop into the 1992?

Broken seat bottom? Print a new one, recover it, and you're ready to go!

Want a 10K RPM 3.8? But the intakes all choke you? How about printing a new intake manifold? Don't like this one? Fiddle with the CAD file, and print a new one!

Let's think of how nice it would be with competent 3D printers, and what would YOU want to print?

To keep it next-decade, let's avoid any active components (no, you can't print a JBL subwoofer complete!), and any mix of structural materials (so you'd have to pad and cover that dash panel you printer).

RwP
 

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The key is what material you can use to print with. All hobbyist printers poop out thermosplastic. Useful for nerdy figurines (if you want that crap) but unlikely to be useful for any automotive application aside from shift knobs.

Having played with a friends 3d printer, i'm not sure i would even print a bracket to hold an iphone in our track car.

Folks have printer AR-15 lowers BUT all of the points of stress in that design are in the metal upper.

They make commercial 3d printers that use lasers to fuse metal powders but I'm not sure of the strength of such metallurgy -- this would work for brackets and whatnot but what about headers? Not so sure. Either way, we are talking 10+ years out.

http://production3dprinters.com/slm/direct-metal-slm

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Even if you have the production tech there, most people are going to have a hard time fabricating their own dashboards/etc. The design part is just as tricky..

Having just come back from CES -- one device I've had the pleasure of seeing in person is the Leap Motion input device. This product could really change things for the hobbyist and the professional alike. This is an extremely accurate, quite affordable 3d input device -- the first one Ive seen that could actually make it for a layman to design their own products fairly effectively.

https://leapmotion.com/

The tech demos include stuff straight out of that minority report movie a few years back + using your hands to "lathe"/manipulate 3d objects.
 

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I dunno, S4gunn. They're printing assist units for paraplegics (the "Magic Arms" for one little girl is one such case), valves for hydralic usage, etc.

Probably not with a MakerBot 2000, I agree :diablo:

But let's just pretend that the tech comes out within a decade to print suspension parts. Or whole dashes. And yes, remember your dashboard is mostly thermoplastic ...

Next would be a 3D imaging program that could take a 3D pic and build a raw CAD file from it.

And with that - all sorts of possibilities open up, don't they?

RwP
 

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I believe California Institute of Technology has / is working on technology to have metallic glass manufactured like injection molded plastic. I'll see if I can find the link, but supposedly metallic glass has better mechanical characteristics than steel for most applications.

Stephen

Edit: http://thekneeslider.com/metallic-glass-injection-mold-metal-like-plastic/
http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1359646208007045
http://www.chemistryviews.org/details/news/1065671/Molding_Metallic_Glass.html
 

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Heh. I'm not sure I'd want a glass suspension around here ;) Metallic or NOT.

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I believe California Institute of Technology has / is working on technology to have metallic glass manufactured like injection molded plastic. I'll see if I can find the link, but supposedly metallic glass has better mechanical characteristics than steel for most applications.

Stephen

Edit: http://thekneeslider.com/metallic-glass-injection-mold-metal-like-plastic/
http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1359646208007045
http://www.chemistryviews.org/details/news/1065671/Molding_Metallic_Glass.html
Metallic glass sounds like something from that Star Trek Movie where they go back in time...

As far as printing products is concerned, I'm willing to bet that this will impact our ability to order low volume tbird parts well BEFORE it becomes the purvey of DIY folks.

For example, if each suspension bit is printed in a commercial factory as its ordered, there's no reason to ever "obsolete" a product. That's good for us (and everyone else who doesn't have a current gen car that they make a ton of). Imaging never having to convince yourself of paying $$$$ for a second hand discontinued bilstein suspension for your tbird...

I seeing this as being far more likely.
-g
 

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I saw a video of some guys making a gun with a 3D printer. They fired maybe 10 rounds before it broke, so I would say the technology to make car parts or firearms that will be reliable is right around the corner.
 
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