You would think after writing about 3D printing for several years that I would develop a higher threshold for being impressed by the various ways that people use 3D printing. I probably have legitimately seen it all at this point, from 3D printed skin, 3D printed clothing, and 3D printed cars to 3D printed houses. But honestly a day doesn’t go by that I don’t whisper ‘cool’ under my breath when I see a well executed project or invention that probably wouldn’t exist without modern 3D printing. And being the big nerd that I am, I’m a massive sucker for any sort of scratch built model or replica of any kind. Even when it’s a replica of a delivery truck.
So when I saw Austrian 3D artist and designer Bernhard Bauer’s remote controlled scratch built Renault delivery truck replica, I was all over it. Yes, it’s a delivery truck not a crazy, outlandish spaceship or anything, but as someone who has does some scratch building myself it is fairly evident how much work went into this. Just the complete lack of striation marks alone is a rather impressive accomplishment of post processing and painting, but the attention to detail is equally notable.
Bauer was contacted by a long-time client to create the pint-sized truck for a promotional event for the Austrian division of Renault. They were showing off their new line of vehicles and wanted a small, 1:14 scale version of their latest truck to drive around the event full of Renault giveaways. Unfortunately Bauer’s client needed the truck quickly, and did not have any 3D data or references available, only 2D photos. But undaunted by duplicating an existing truck, Bauer turned to Blender and modelled the cabin and the unique truck details.
By scaling his 3D designs to fit on the chassis of an existing RC truck Bauer was able to repurpose its electronics and non-3D printable parts. He started by taking the original RC truck apart and measuring all of the components that he would be reusing so he could design the Renault parts to fit onto it perfectly. He 3D printed the full truck cabin, bumper, grill and the fenders. Then he hand cut the windows out of acrylic glass.
Take a look at the truck in action here. The relevant part of the video starts at about 7:50 but it’s worth skipping around in the video just to see how amusingly excited Austrians get for new delivery trucks:
Here is a direct link to the video queued up to the relevant portion. But seriously, the event had all these lights and a group of drummers. Austria really likes delivery trucks!
“I accepted this assignment without ever having done anything similar. The ultimaker forum and my awesome friend George really helped a lot in giving me tips on how to achieve the perfectly smooth surface. e.g. how to sand, what filler to use, which modelling putty and so on. I think it took me four turns of sanding and filling to achieve this level of quality and I also had to do a tiny bit of emergency freehand sculpting in the end. The painting of the base color was done by a professional car body painter, but he didn’t care to paint the black details (around the windshield etc) so I had to improvise and spray them myself on the balcony. This was my first ‘professional’ project using a 3d printer, i learned a ton but would of course do it completely different now,” Bauer explained to us via email.
In order to meet his very tight deadline, the entire printing, post processing and fabrication of the RC truck parts took Bauer around four days, obviously leaving him with very little sleep. The 3D printing alone took about 40 hours over the course of about three days. All of the parts were printed on an Ultimaker 1 using a high thermal stability PLA called Orbitech 90. The specialized printing material is ideal for high detail parts and is very resistant to warping or deformation. It is also easier to sand away striation, which was already minimized by being printed on an Ultimaker. The end result of his four-day build speaks for itself.
I know, I know, it’s a truck, but clearly a lot of work went into this truck, and personally I can’t help being impressed. Especially for someone who had never attempted a project of this kind.
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