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RC cars are incredibly popular and more and more people are getting into the hobby as a way to get out of the house and spend time with friends or family. One issue that arises with RC cars is that the parts are often quite expensive even though they are very small.
Of course in recent years the technology for 3D printing has advanced rapidly and the price of 3D printers has dropped a lot. So if you were to get a 3D printer could you use it to print RC car parts?
You can actually 3D print many different RC car parts! As a matter of fact, 3D printing RC parts is quickly becoming very popular these days. You can design a lot of parts right there in your own home and then turn these parts into a fully functioning component of your RC car.
Some people may prefer to make just replacement parts while there are others who might like to improve the component to be a better fit for the application they want to use that piece in particular for. So, 3D printing is great for making replacement parts or even for making parts that are better than the originals!
Before we dive more into depth about printing replacement parts you should check out this video below that talks about how to design and print RC car parts.
Now, let’s get to it and find out if 3D printing is such a good idea anyway.
Is 3D Printing a Great Idea for RC Parts?
You bet it is!
First of all, 3D printing presents you with a very wide scope of designs to choose from. If you want to CNC mill an RC part, there’s only a certain amount of flexibility you can get as a designer. However, when you’re doing 3D printing, there is a large amount of flexibility in design and you can get almost any shape you would like to design to fit perfectly in your RC car. Many of these shapes you could not possibly mill.
The second thing to consider and which makes 3D printing such a good idea is the cost of 3D printing. In the last several years, the cost of 3D printing has gone down quite a bit. Considering how technology is constantly getting better, there are also more chances for more competitive better pricing of 3D printers and their components. This is the case both with getting the 3D printing services and with the actual printers/ parts available.
Thirdly, 3D printing RC components can be done by anyone as long as they have a 3D printer and an internet connection. All you need to do is download what you want to print and you’re good to go.
Another thing is that you can create your own designs made to perfection right from scratch.
And then finally, there are lots of different types of filament material that you can use in a 3D printer. It has been estimated that the 3D print technology will greatly increase over the next several years and what this means is that there will be more types of material that will become available.
Currently, material that can handle high heat or high strength requirements is available so no matter which part you need to make you can probably find the right material to make it with. A well designed component or a plastic part can be designed to be quite strong, and this can be very useful in many RC car applications.
3D Printing Your RC Car Parts
While this can be a significantly difficult process, it is also a highly rewarding activity. The main thing that makes this a tough process is the fact that there are many different types of 3D printers present on the market. Some of the more affordable models will require you to spend more time on up-front setup and tinkering. This can either bring more fun to the process or more pain depending on how you look at it.
Just make sure that you choose a good 3D printer that works perfectly with your level of comfort before you begin.
As soon as you have a printer, the next thing to do is find some parts to print and use. There are two different choices available to you here and this will depend on whether you prefer to design your model or download it.
Also, it would be a very good idea to invest some time in learning how to design 3D printed parts. This can help you dive deeper into your inner creativity and, of course, create better designs for your RC parts.
It is definitely very rewarding to stand back and look at the beautiful designs that you have created by yourself.
How to 3D print wheels
If you do decide to use 3D printing for wheels, here are some post-printing steps to keep in mind:
Clean Up the Part
After you have printed your wheel, remove any loose printed material you find on the wheel. Make sure that the hex insert is free from any loose material as well. When you let loose material stay on the hex area without cleaning it out, it may cause the wheel to sit incorrectly and not work properly.
Remove Existing Wheels
Remove existing wheels by unfastening the single fastener you find at the center of the wheel, making use of a 2.5mm Allen key.
Check the center Wheel Hole Clearance
Using one of the fasteners you removed from the existing wheels, check the size of the wheel fastener hole on the printed wheels. There might be issues if the hole shrank during printing so testing with the wheel fastener will tell if it shrank. If that is the case, drill it out to 4mm (0.150in)
Fasten the wheels to your RC car with the fastener and make sure not to overtighten.
Making Your Own 3D RC Car
On top of just printing RC car parts you could also 3D print an entire RC car! There are many people who have done this successfully but it certainly isn’t a job for beginners and it isn’t something that you should undertake lightly.
Here are the steps to 3D print an entire RC car:
Here are the main components you will need to make your own 3D printed RC car:
Flexible and tough materials to be used for printing
Nuts, bolts, and bearings to be used for assembly
A transmitter and receiver to be used for controlling the car
ESC and motor to be used for driving the wheels
Micro servo to be used for steering
Lithium-ion battery for powering your car
Here are the steps you need to take to assemble your car:
First of all, assemble the rear axle and front steering assembly. It is important to have both of these fully assembled because you will be needing them for subsequent steps.
Next, do the main body assembly.
Attach the rear axle assembly and front steering assembly which you have already done to the bottom of your car.
Get an engineer to wire up your electronics or watch a few Youtube videos to learn how.
Attach your motor to the car and create an alignment for the motor gear and back axle gear.
Screw the top frame to your car.
Add the wheels and rear spoiler.
Test your newly assembled car out!
Of course it is much more involved than just those few top level steps. There are many videos on Youtube about steps and processes along the way. If you are seriously interested in printing an RC car then you will want to watch ALL of them!
You can certainly 3D print RC car parts as well as even entire RC cars! Printing RC car parts is much easier than an entire car as you simply have to copy the part that you want and make sure that it prints correctly.
In the future it is likely that 3D printers will be used for a wide variety of things including printing parts for RC cars, computers, and likely many other uses as well! 3D printing is only going to get better and that is good news for the RC car enthusiast!