Depending on where in the world you reside, you typically grow up playing with different types of toys and games that correlate to the culture in which you live in. For me, I grew up in America during the late 80s and early 90s, a time when G.I. Joe and Ninja Turtles were popular. I wasn’t a big video game fan, so I spent a lot of time outside playing baseball and football with friends during the day, prior to either coming inside to play with my action figures, or compete against my brother racing cars on our slot car tracks. Slot cars have been a big part of American History for quite some time. These fun little cars, which are controlled by a single trigger and raced on “slotted” tracks, have been around for almost a century, in one form or another.
If you were to head over to India, kids there grow up playing cricket, soccer and field hockey, as opposed to baseball, football and basketball. Different cultures are more conducive to different games and toys, but one thing is for sure, everyone loves to have fun. This includes children and adults alike. The only difference between children and adult toys, are the levels of sophistication and the prices associated with them.
In Japan, Mini 4WD is quite the popular pastime for both children and adults of all ages. Just about every child in Japan grows up with some exposure to the fun, fast action of racing mini 4WD cars. These toys are miniature plastic race cars, scaled down usually to 1/32 of the size of a real car. Unlike slot-cars, they race without any remote control, and hit speeds of up to 40 MPH (65 km/H) on tracks that feature many twists, turns, bumpers and obstacles. Called Mini Yonku in Japanese, Mini 4WD can become quite competitive at times.
Recently with the increasing availability of 3D printing and laser cutting, adults in Japan are becoming reimmersed with their favorite childhood pastime. 3D printing has played a major role in the total customization of a lot of things recently, and Mini 4WD is certainly quickly becoming one of them. The technology allows for custom bumpers, tires, and even complete bodies of cars to be fabricated in a matter of hours.
Just recently FabCafe Shibuya in Japan held a Mini 4WD Cup, which featured over 60 different participants who gathered to race their cars, which had been customized either through the use of 3D printing or through laser cutting. The winner of the event received — you guessed it — a 3D printed trophy created by i.materialise. The champion of the race was Honda Design, who had actually used a laser cutter to cut most of the parts for their Mini 4WD car out of wood.
The trophies were printed in red, white and blue colors, in honor of the company TAMIYA, which was the first company to start producing Mini 4WD cars in 1982.
There were plenty of other creative 3D printed and laser cut cars on hand, all unique in their own right. Well known companies such as 3D printer manufacturer Stratasys were there to participate as well. Stratasys didn’t appear to be trying to win the race, but instead wanted to get plenty of attention with their 3D printed tank, which featured a figurine of their CEO on top.
Probably the most interesting car on hand was the shark-shaped Mini 4WD which was built specifically to get around the track in the most efficient manner possible. It featured a built-in meter that could count the number of rotations which the motor was making, and determine if the car was going too fast for the curves. If needed, the motor would be limited so that it could sufficiently maneuver around a curve.
All in all, the event seemed to have been a success, not only for fans of Mini 4WD, but for the maker’s and 3D printing fans out there as well. What do you think? Have you ever used 3D printing to customize a race car before? Have you ever raced Mini 4WD? Discuss in the 3D printed Mini 4WD forum thread on 3DPB.com. Check out some more photos below:[Source: i.materialise]
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