Celebrity car enthusiast and former Tonight Show host, Jay Leno, relies on 3D technology by 3D Systems to reproduce and replace custom vents on his 650 horsepower, hand-built EcoJet concept car.
Positioned behind the EcoJet’s doors, the specially designed vents are critical in ensuring sufficient airflow to the jet engine that powers the vehicle. However, the original vents were extremely delicate and broke as the car was being pushed out of the workshop. Leno and his team of mechanics and engineers needed to recreate these parts, but did not have access to the original design to guide them. Without a CAD file to work from, Leno and his team turned to 3D Systems to digitally manufacture perfect replacements.
The team first used 3D Systems Geomagic Design™ X software to convert 3D scan data from broken vent pieces into solid, editable CAD models. Working with these models, the team was able to reconstruct and optimize the original vents on-screen in less than half-an-hour, wherein traditional methods would have taken nearly a week of hand modeling per vent due to the EcoJet’s custom-built asymmetry. Leno’s team then sent the digital file of the restored vents to 3D Systems’ on demand parts manufacturing service, Quickparts®, to 3D print them using the company’s Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) technology and apply the necessary finishing processes.
Choosing Quickparts provided Leno and his team access to the widest range of 3D printing technologies and materials, including 3D Systems DuraForm® HST, a lightweight, fiber-filled nylon ideal for functional prototypes and end-use parts that require stiffness and elevated thermal resistance. The experts at Quickparts were not only able to deliver the ultra-clean lines and robust physical properties demanded of the EcoJet, but also significantly improve the vents’ strength-to-weight ratio using a fraction of the time and money that traditionally manufactured custom vents would require.
“It is amazing, how we just take 3D scans and come back with end-use parts that fit perfectly,” said Jay Leno, who regularly uses 3D Systems’ printers, materials, software and on demand services to restore and maintain his collection of more than 200 vehicles. “With 3D printing, the automotive industry has changed more in the last decade than it previously did in the last century.”