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How One Father Son Team Made Their Own Lamborghini

How One Father Son Team Made Their Own Lamborghini

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The Lamborghini was the brainchild of Ferruccio Lamborghini and dates back to 1963. It is now among the best-selling cars in the world.

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Many working-class people dream of owning one someday. Barring that, few car aficionados would turn down the chance to at least drive one. A man named Sterling Backus was given the opportunity to do so.

Father-Son Bonding

Many fathers work on classic cars with their sons, which serves as a bonding activity between them. This is what Sterling Backus did with Xander, his 11-year-old son, that caused Lamborghini to take notice. The two embarked on a project to create their own replica of the Lamborghini Aventador.

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Sterling used his skills and experience in working with lasers to help facilitate the project. It involved steps such as taking a Chevrolet Corvette’s LS1 V8 and using it to power the replica of the Aventador, along with the fabrication of steel on chassis. He even went on eBay and purchased car headlights.

Simple 3D printer

At home, he used his 3D printer to create carbon fiber that would be the basis of the replica car. Sterling was well aware that if the replica was 100% the same as a Lamborghini, the company would have a problem with it.

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To avoid this, he made sure that the exterior panels of the replica car looked nothing like an actual Lamborghini Aventador would. Sterling dubbed it the Interceptor and even used a Porsche 911 transaxle to differentiate it from Lamborghini.

Making Dreams Come True

Lamborghini is famous for making an effort to connect with consumers who love their brand of cars. In Italy, they surprised a child with a Lamborghini model during the holiday season. The child was trying to acquire a model of the car as part of his holiday shopping, but the store was sold out of it.

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With so many children coveting this model for Christmas, most had to settle for choosing a different model car instead. When Lamborghini got to win that one child was desperate for that particular model, they personally delivered it to him, even arriving in a Lamborghini.

#Real Lover

Just like that young boy, Xander was just as enamored with the Lamborghini Aventador, due to the fact that it was featured in Forza Horizon 3. Xander’s passion for the brand inspired the company to label them as #Real Lover. Though the company’s CMO stated that they normally frown upon anyone counterfeiting their products. They made an exception for Sterling and Xander because they were so touched by the father and son’s story.

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The company arranged to have the car driven to his home overnight and when Xander woke up in the morning, his dad joked with him that the replica had been finished while he was asleep. He then drove his son to school in the real Lamborghini Aventador and give his classmates the chance to have their picture taken with the car.

Under the radar

Even though the Interceptor was designed so that father and son could stay under the radar, Lamborghini got wind of it anyway. They were so inspired by the idea of father and son bonding over their brand that they put in a call to Sterling, courtesy of an executive with Lamborghini. The father and son were offered an opportunity to film a commercial for Lamborghini.

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Lamborghini wanted to acknowledge the passion that both Sterling and Xander have for their brand. It is the reason they chose them to make a video that would air during the holiday season. 

A Lesson In STEAM

While Sterling embarked on this replica project in order to spend more quality time with his son, he also did it to educate Xander, and others, on the process of creating a replica. He has chronicled the project step by step, using Facebook as a platform to share their progress with the world.

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Sterling said Facebook was an excellent tool to use in order to keep them on track throughout the creation of the replica and to show exactly how the process works. He also said that he felt it is important for kids to learn about STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math.)

Trio of 3D printers

Sterling and Xander started their project with a 3D model of Aventador. Using a computer modeling program called Solidworks, they began the project. It took a trio of 3D printers to create the air vents, body panels, headlights and taillights for the replica car.

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The body parts of the car were created using biomass-derived polylactic acid plastic. This served to prevent the model from becoming warped due to the weather. Using CNC machines Sterling acquired from his employer, he and Xander also used waterjet cutting for the car’s suspension parts and hinges. They used solid steel to construct the drivetrain, suspension, and frame.

Educate Students

It took a 3D printer and 220 spools of thermoplastic to create the car’s body, though of those 220, 50 or more were used incorrectly. Special Creality CR-10S, and Creality CR-1055 printers were used to create the PLA car parts that had to be more durable were printed using a QIDI XPro system.

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One of the reasons Sterling put so much work into this car is that he wanted it to be drivable so that he could take it to schools to help educate students. Part of making sure it can be used safely included leaving the encapsulated parts of the car outside for the summer months. Sterling lives in Colorado and wanted to ensure that the heat of the summer would be something the car could eventually withstand. After six months of keeping the parts exposed to direct sunlight, Sterling reported that the parts did hold up.

A History of 3D Cars

Though it may seem like Sterling and Xander are on the cutting edge of technology, they are not the first to create a drivable 3D printed car. The CEO of Local Motors, Jay Rogers, was one of a few in the auto industry who spoke out on the amount of material wasted making new cars.

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He blamed it on cars being made the same way since 1915. When car manufacturing was new, thousands of parts were used to construct each one.

Only One Passenger

Rogers felt that the solution to this was to create 3D printed cars. So in 2015, he created the Strati, the world’s first car to come from a 3D printer instead of a factory. It was built in Detroit, in part by Tennessee’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

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The small electric car is only designed to hold the driver and one passenger. Local Motors has plans to create more cars like this one. At the time, two factories were being built by Local Motors with the intention of using them to manufacture additional 3D printed cars.

Crude Design

While some manufacturers Rogers met with encouraged the use of the factories to simply create prototypes, he insisted that they were going to be used strictly for the production of 3D cars to the masses. As a result of their efforts, Local Motors was given the 2014 Breakthrough Award by Popular Mechanics.

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The original Local Motors 3D car is said to have a crude design. The smooth flanks of the car are meant to look like the matte carbon tub found in the i3 of a BMW. Even Rogers has admitted that the car’s dashboard resembles silicone beads stacked using a caulking gun.

25,000 Parts Per Year

Some of the most famous auto manufacturers in the world quickly saw the advantages of 3D printing. For example, in 1998 Ford purchased one of the earliest 3D printers. Since then, they have, on a yearly basis, manufactured 225,000 parts per year that were created on a 3D printer.

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Ford has also formed partnerships with not one, but two 3D printing companies. As a result, the company planned to use 3D printing in its Michigan assembly plant. Ford even committed to designing 13 new cars using their 3D printing capabilities.

3D Car Printing Continues

In 2018, a pair of companies released an LSEV car that was mostly produced using a 3D printer. The only parts of the car that were not created using the 3D printer were the glass, chassis, and seats. Resembling a smart car, the LSEV is five feet tall, eight feet long and four feet wide.

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XEV, an Italian car company, and Polyamker and Turin, a company that makes the materials used for 3D printing, released their cars after Local Motors and another company did as well. However, the LSEV was the first 3D car produced that was able to be sold to drivers around the country.

$10,000 Each

The LSEV does have some limitations when it comes to its use. The highest speed the car can achieve is 43 miles (ca. 69 km) per hour. A fully charged LSEV can run for 93 miles (ca. 150 km) before having to be charged again.

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While this car isn’t the ideal choice for traveling through country land, it can easily be used to drive around in cities. Production on the LSEV began in 2018, and by mid-2019 it was expected to those cards would be sold to European customers for $10,000 each.

Three Days

Start to finish, the production of a single LSEV is completed after three days and using 57 . In comparison, the typical new car’s production time is between 30 and 35 hours and uses more than 20,000 parts. It isn’t just personal cars that are being printed in 3D.

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Since the LSEV can’t exceed 43 miles (ca. 69 km) per hour (ca. 69 km/h), the Italian Postal Service expressed interest in ordering 5,000 of them.  A French car company owned by a major bank in the country placed an order with LSEV for 2,000 cars. Before the car was available for purchase, it was included in the 3D Printing Culture Museum in Shanghai, China.

Simple Prototypes

Other companies are jumping on the 3D printed car bandwagon too. This includes Prodrive, which purchased its first 3D printer in 2009. The original intention was to simply create prototypes that wouldn’t actually function. Eighteen months later they were using the printer to manufacture car parts.

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They used these parts in new cars they needed to test out. This led to the discovery that they could produce specialized car parts cost-effectively. With the ability to create car parts as they are needed, the company wouldn’t be burdened with excessive stock, but would still be able to provide the needed parts at just the right time. The company was even able to ; print out the tools they needed to fix parts that weren’t quite right.

How 3D Printing Is Changing The Auto Industry

It is safe to say that 3D printing is changing the auto industry in many ways. One way it is doing so is by making cars weigh much less than they ever could before.  Since they weigh less, they don’t need as much gas to keep them running. As this benefits the environment, it is one of the most important differences 3D printing is making.

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Another way it is changing the industry is by making it easier to replace the smaller parts of cars. It can be especially difficult to replace parts in older cars. Yet 3D printing eliminates that problem altogether. The parts can be perfected before they are printed out, to ensure that they will work in the car that needs fixing. Those who want a customized car have many options available to them, enabled by 3D printing. This works for both internal and external customization.

Materials Used In 3D Car Printing

Part of what makes 3D printed cars interesting is the material that is used. The variety of materials used to print cars are plastics, ABS, PLA, Polycarbonate, Polyamides, Polypropylene, metals, and composites. Plastics are the most commonly used materials. Plastic is printed for 3D in three ways, fused deposition modeling, stereolithography, and selective layer sintering.

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ABS filaments are found in numerous car parts. The bodywork is the main area in a car where they are used. The toughness of the material means that parts made of it can be safely exposed to temperatures between -20 degrees Celsius and 80 degrees Celsius. This reusable material can be welded as needed.

Absorb Moisture

Since PLA is biodegradable and is often made with raw materials, making it environmentally friendly, there are few other materials that are as easy for a 3D printer to use as PLA. However, most other materials found in cars are easier to manipulate. It is often used to help customize cars because it can be created in almost any color.

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A less frequently used but just as valuable material is Polycarbonate.  The material is made in a way that cuts down on the likelihood of it physically deforming. It has to be kept exposed to higher temperatures in order for it to remain useful.  If polycarbonate is exposed to temperatures lower than it can handle, layers separate from each other. This material is more likely to absorb moisture than others used in the 3D printing of cars.

Flexibility and Rigidity

Polyamides are most often used to make a car’s gears. Their nylon type qualities are perfect for building certain car parts. This material provides much-needed shock resistance and is extremely detailed. It lends rigidity, flexibility, and stability to 3D printed cars.

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Flexibility and rigidity are also two qualities that make polypropylene a well-used material in the auto industry. The standard type of material can be damaged if exposed to UV rays or undesirable temperatures, so they have limited use when it comes to the auto industry.

Combination of Plastic and Wood

When it comes to using metal in 3D printing, the auto industry still has a long way to go. However, there are several techniques used in the industry to print metal for 3D objects. Two of them are electron-beam, and wire-feed electron-beam. The others are powder bed, and print head. Lasers are used to melt the metal down so it can be used. After it is liquefied the metal is then applied to the car part being created. It goes on in layers and upon drying, adds the needed texture to the part in question.

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Composites are used to help create the frame of a car made with 3D parts. Many of them consist of plant-based material. While most of them are made purely of plastic, a few of them are a combination of plastic and wood. This material is most often used on cars in which the goal is to make it look metallic, giving it a classic style that can make any car look timeless.

The Rise of 3D Printing In The Auto Industry

There is no question that 3D printing will continue to have an impact on the auto industry. A study conducted by Statistics MRC in 2015 found that 3D printing had already seen a growth of $520. The number is expected to keep going up, as it has been predicted that before the end of 2022, 3D printing in the auto industry will have grown by $2.5 billion.

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While at first 3D printing was a luxury in the industry, as the years pass it is becoming increasingly necessary. Auto companies that fail to incorporate 3D printing are likely to fall behind their competitors who already do. In the future, companies that don’t use 3D printing will be behind the times when it comes to producing parts for the cars they sell and service.

Test the car on the road

As there is a growing demand for cars to be manufactured quickly, many companies are finding that 3D printing is the solution. For example, Big Rep, a German 3D company, created the LOCI. Production on the car was completed over the course of 12-weeks. Though as of the end of 2019 it was nothing more than a prototype, future plans call for it to be equipped with an electric motor. When this happens, it will be possible to test the car on the road.

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Another 3D printed car catching the industry’s attention is the Blade. It has a 700 horsepower bi-fuel engine. Its carbon emission is less than that of a standard car because it can be filled with natural or compressed gasoline. At 1400 pounds (0.64 t) it is also much more lightweight than a standard car. With the power to go from zero to 60 within seconds, the Blade will likely be tempting to any environmentally aware drivers.

Weighs less than any standard car

The Blade was created without the need to go through a plant. 3D printed modular pieces were used to make the chassis by connecting the car’s carbon rods. As a result, the chassis in this car weighs significantly less than any standard car would.

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Audi is well on its way to using 3D printing to change the company’s approach to manufacturing car parts. The company is already utilizing 3D printing in as many ways as it possibly can. The company’s production of spare car parts is changing the way in which supply chains work in the industry. They can now avoid manufacturing too many of a specific car part. Audi has been working through the process of creating 3D cars with materials such as electronic beam additives and direct metal laser sintering. The plan is to include additive manufacturing in the process of creating new cars.

Add-on as well

It’s not just cars that are being created differently., it is also the various add-on as well. AI Design is one company that is using 3D printers to manufacture the add-ons that many luxury car owners desire. This includes camouflage SATNAV units, as well as radar detectors and even smartphone holders for the car. 3D printing has enabled Audi, as well as other car companies, to operate more efficiently and at a lower cost.

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Also taking advantage of 3D printing is a Korean company, Hankook, that uses it to make tires. The company sells its tires in hundreds of countries around the world. They also provide tires for trucks and motorbikes as well.

Self-Driving Cars

3D printing is also being used to help create self-driving cars. OLLI is one of those cars and consists of 20% carbon fiber and 80% ABS plastic. As it turns out ABS plastic was also used in the creation of the Spira.

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Along with polypropylene plastic foam and honeycomb fiberglass, the car is lightweight and speedy. Though it is currently difficult to find a Spira to purchase, in the future the plans are to make it more accessible.

Buzz in the media

The actions of a single father and son team ignited the public’s interest in 3D printing as it applies to cars. With people all over the world following their progress on Facebook, they inspired an entire generation of school-aged children to learn more about the science and technology that makes 3D printing possible. This led to a buzz in the media among people and companies that want to use 3D printing to their full advantage.

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So many car companies are adopting 3D printing that is certain to be an important part of the industry’s future. It is set to change the way cars and car parts are manufactured. Though there is still much to learn about this technology, it is already making a lasting impact. It has made cars lighter weight and reduced much of the emission that was previously a problem all over the world.

The auto industry  will never be the same

For environmentally-conscious companies and drivers, this is a step in the right direction. The future of the auto industry and the environment will never be the same, thanks to the technology that makes producing cars safer and more efficient than ever before.

Only time will tell how 3D printing continues to develop and how that will affect the industry and the world.