Make Your Own Parts with Shareware CAD and 3D Printing!

COMPUTER-AIDED DESIGN (CAD) MODELING:

At MotoIQ, we have used computer-aided design (CAD) and 3D printing to mock up a custom turbo manifold for Project S2000.  This enabled us to locate the turbo exactly where we wanted and model the flow characteristics before having it investment cast out of 347SS.

There are a lot of CAD software options out there.  Solidworks and AutoCAD are two very well-known and popular options, but cost $1,300-1,700 per year.  Meanwhile Fusion 360 costs $495 for the professional, and is free for hobbyists if the user generates less than $1,000 in annual revenue.  There are various other free software including TinkerCAD, FreeCAD, SketchUp, Onshape Free, Blender, but many are limited in their functionality compared to the software that you pay for.

I decided to go with Fusion 360 For Personal Use from AutoDesk.com due to the power of the software, the support and tutorials online, and it’s free for me as a Hobbyist since I’m designing parts to make my car better and my life easier.

Lars Christiensen Fusion 360

Next, I had to learn how to use the software.  I did this by searching YouTube for Fusion 360 Tutorials.  I found a really good 3-part tutorial by Lars Christensen on how to make a simple conduit box.

After getting the basics down on how to use the fundamental tools of sketching geometries, cutting, and extruding, I found a more advanced video on making snap fit cases.  Click the link.

Raspberry Pi Mount

With these skills, I made my first design.  A little bracket that mounts a Raspberry Pi to a screen

Raspberry Pi Mount

After a couple hours of print time, I successfully mounted a Raspberry Pi to a Capacitive Touch Screen with my design.

Fusion 360 Vacuum adapter

My next design came out of frustration.  I needed to adapt a 1.75” shop Vac to a 1.25” pet attachment.  I had to return 3-4 different assorted vacuum attachment kits purchased from Amazon because nothing worked.  I used my newfound skills to quickly draw up this simple adapter.

Fusion 360 Vacuum adapter made

With less than an hour of print time it was finished.  I was ecstatic that within a few minutes, I solved a problem that took me days of purchasing and returning parts that didn’t work from Amazon!  This endeavor is already helping in many ways.

Now that my comfort level with designing and printing was at a good point, I was ready to tackle the real driving force behind this entire effort, the NSX door frame.

Table of Contents:

Page 1 – Intro & Problem
Page 2 – 3D Printer
Page 3 – 3D Printer & Upgrades
Page 4 – Learning CAD & Making Designs
Page 5 – Designing NSX Door Frame
Page 6 – Printing NSX Door Frame
Page 7 – Fitting, Testing, and Redesigning NSX Door Frame

7 comments

    1. I tested a bunch of different materials, different brands, and countless print settings of each. I ended up with one of the PETG filaments.

  1. Great article very informative!

    What would you have done if you didn’t have friends at Mountune to use their FaroArm’s Prizm Laser?

    1. Probably waited for my friend with a light scanner, or paid for one of the many places that do laser or light scanning. Or do more research looking into affordable scanning solutions.

  2. Nice article!

    I’ve been 3D printing parts for my cars for a few years now and one thing I’ve found is that ribs and walls can be made relatively stronger and stiffer for a given mass just by making them thicker but with a low infill percentage.

    Obviously there are limitations with package and if you need another part of the print to have higher infill, but it can be helpful.

  3. I have been playing with an ender 3 v2 for various projects lately and what you can do with these is really impressive. I built an enclosure for it and various upgrade parts. Still playing with PLA+, but i have some PETG to use for automotive stuff.

    If you have not, remember to tape the +5V pin of the USB cable from your pi to the printer, as the printer will draw voltage from there if you cut its power. And when it tries to power 24v fans with that little 5V pin, it may burn some stuff. The 5V pin is the rightmost pin when you look at the port, placing the filled part toward the ground.

  4. Now after going through all the R & D, do you plan to sell these pieces? Would it worth your time factoring in time and material cost?

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