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Hagerty Employee

8 parts and tools I plan to make with my new 3D printer

As an early Christmas present to one other, my wife and I finally pulled the trigger on a 3D printer, something we've both been wanting for quite a while. (It's an Artillery Sidewinder X2 in case you were wondering.)

Brandan, please keep us posted regarding the output of your 3D printer. As well as a source for the libraries of already produced downloadable files, I would like to see a tutorial on the process of going from an idea, sketching up a plan and using CAD to produce your own printable projects. A background on choosing a printer, software and filament would also be valuable. Apparently, some communities allow access to publicly owned 3D printers in libraries and schools. This might be worth pursuing rather than reinventing the wheel at home for a few one-off projects. Thanks, for a nice article.
Intermediate Driver

I've been using a cheap, hobbyist quality 3D printer (Creality CR-10) to make custom car parts and tools for several years now. Believe me, once you start doing it you'll find it to be indispensable. The big hurdle (if you haven't already done so) is learning how to design your own parts in a 3D modeling system like Fusion 360, FreeCAD, or any number of other apps. That way, you don't have to depend on somebody else happening to design what you want and posting it on Thingiverse.

The step of converting your printed plastic parts to metal by the lost PLA process is a big one that I haven't tried yet. It's not as much of a limitation as you might think, because parts printed in ABS or ASA can be quite strong and heat resistant, even suitable for some under hood applications. For more strength, there are glass or carbon filled nylon filaments that can replace aluminum in many instances. Another option is to laminate the plastic part in carbon fiber (or fiberglass) cloth and epoxy resin. Then, it's strong AND beautiful. Keep in mind, though, that PLA (the most common 3D printing plastic) is definitely not suitable for car parts, because it will warp badly when subjected to temperatures commonly found in car interiors during the summer or under the hood (ask me how I know).

For rubber-like parts, there are thermoplastic urethane filaments in various hardnesses that can be used for cushions, gaskets, gaiters, or other parts where flexibility is important.

The parts I've made for my car are too numerous to list, but they include things like switch panels, door handles, window winders, trim plates, shift knobs, all sorts of brackets, a CHMSL housing, intake ducting, a custom GPS mount, a backup camera mount, and gaskets.

I've also made a bunch of custom tools, tool adapters, and jigs that make various tasks easier.

And don't get me started on all the gizmos I've made for use around the house. Once you start designing and printing your own parts, you'll wonder how you ever lived without a 3D printer!

Intermediate Driver

Thought I'd post a picture to show what's possible with an entry level 3D printer.



This is a shifter I recently added to the car.  The shifter itself is an off the shelf aftermarket unit (from K-Tuned) with a nice CNC machined adjustable lever.  Normally, a shifter would have a leather or rubber boot to seal the gap between the hole in the floor and the shift lever.  In this case, I didn't want to cover up the beautiful lever, so I had to come up with a different scheme.  In the final installation, four 3D printed parts were used.


  1. The shift knob was printed in ASA material and then skinned with carbon fiber and epoxy resin.  The shift pattern emblem was printed on an inkjet printer and embedded in the epoxy.
  2. The donut shaped piece at the bottom of the lever (with the exposed screw heads) is a  trim piece that was printed in ASA.  It's purely cosmetic; all it does is cover the ball and socket joint at the base of the lever.
  3. Below that, the circular pleated part is a large, flexible grommet that was printed in a soft thermoplastic polyurethane material.  It's the piece that does the actual sealing between the floor and the lever.  It had to be pleated because the shifter moves forward and backward quite a bit as the engine torques during hard acceleration.
  4. Finally, the large rectangular piece at the bottom covers and holds down the edge of the carpet.  It was printed in ASA and skinned with carbon fiber and epoxy resin.

In the end, the piece that made it possible was the custom grommet.  That would have been very difficult to make without the 3D printer.

New Driver

Great post buddy. I hope you will continue to write more helpful posts like this one for us in the future. Learned quite a bit. visit to learn more :