Will 3D Printing be the future of die-cast racing?

Car_boi Friday, 1/27/2023

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No, I will not be talking about race track parts, but the cars itself. I have seen very little articles when it comes to the 3D printing of cars. This has been a thing for model railway enthusiats for a long while now. 


But imagine the posiblities! Want good looking wheel design? You can make it. Want a chassis with a lip and diffusers? Go for it! Want to make a brand new car? You can make it.


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Uncle_Elvis 1/28/23


It is "DIE-CAST" for a reason 

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Crazy_Canuck 1/28/23

Pro track has been doing this for a while now...he's got a whole series dedicated to it. It's an interesting idea...but the time needed to invest into the design and build is probably the biggest hurdle.

the bodies might become more prolific, but the chassis, axles, and wheels will probably stay diecast for the foreseeable future cuz they're a pita

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dr_dodge 1/28/23

Diecast offers one significant advantage over plastics

raw density,  I suspect a 100 g plastic "anything but van" would be tough

but you hack a couple 35+ g cars into one, you're at 50-60 g with just the top and bottom

you could print a sacrificial body to make a mold and cast it yourself,

(for something I can buy for $1 - $5 ?) 

but it would be outside what a lot of people would do

densities listed below

3d plastic on the spool, a final printed will be lower than this

common materials and their density's

with the plastic at a density of 1, vs zanak at a 6,

the diecast parts of the car would have to be 6x thicker

silver and lead come in at about 11, and gold a whopping 19,

for the cost of a real good 3d printer, you could probably have a silver (or gold) 57 chevy body cast

(that would be a slug...lol)

  • Why I use Tungsten, 19.25 g/cm^3. Safer than Uranium and Lead, not as expensive as Gold and Platinum lol. — Redline_Salvage_Inc
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RAGTAG_JIM 1/28/23

Then would no longer be diecast racing..... It would be 3d racing.... Just saying..... Unless you can 3d print in diecast...... Or zmac...

  • casting is fun, but not easy, a bit dangerous, but not cheap or quick. I'd bet ya couldn't cast a car body in less the 10-20 hours, even 3d'ing the body mold master — dr_dodge
  • Hear that Mr. Dodge — RAGTAG_JIM
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Foursix 1/28/23

No! 3D printed cars aren't "diecast". There's gotta be a cut off somewhere, we're supposed to be racing modified mass produced cars. I race metal/metal anyway, free weight, why start with light weight 3D printed plastic and have figure out where to add weight and still come up light? If they're allowed I skip the race. There's so many castings to choose from old and new, why reinvent the wheel, literally ????? There definitely is a market in the customs world, but for racing, keep it simple...

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Chaos_Canyon 1/28/23

I like the idea of 3D printed cars (or parts of) and don't have a problem with racing them. From an aesthetic point of view, FDM won't cut it as the layer lines are too big when you get the camera in close, so you would really need resin and they are more time consuming and expensive, so may limit the people that want to do it. On the up side, they are great for also printing figures for you track, so maybe worthwhile. 

I think it can also be cool because you can get models that HW haven't made (presuming you can model or purchase the model somewhere). Like in NZ/AUS cars like the old Holden Monaro or Morris Minor, etc are not likely to ever be mass produced, but they look super cool. And I like the idea of using the printer to add parts to replicate a real cars modifications. Or even just printing a custom base for a diecast body would be cool, as you could model in holders for weights etc and they base shapes overall are pretty simple, so you don't need advanced 3D modelling knowledge to make them.

I see people saying it's not diecast racing if you do that, but not all hot wheels have a metal body - like my Fish'n'Chipped art car I used to win the Junkyard joust event. It has a metal base and plastic body, which i think is superior for racing as you are putting the bulk of the weight as low as possible. I also like the idea of 3D printed cars for a proper destruction derby race, as the bodies would actually start to shatter/break, making it more realistic. 

In the end, there will be purists that hate it and others that love it and likely a bunch of people that will want to give it a go. As far as racing goes, it'll be up to each track as to whether they want to accept them at all, but I wouldn't have an issue with them, as long as they look like a real car, as that's the look I want on my track. For me it's not about racing 'diecast', it's about racing toy cars gravity style and having fun doing it.

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H3zzard 1/29/23

I like the idea of being able to use 3D printing for aesthetics off the track (scenery, crowds, buildings etc.), as custom track pieces, and maybe for vehicle accessories / reproduction-parts (blowers, wheels/rims, spoilers etc.) 

But there is a sizeable gap between something being die-cast and something being printed... as their names suggest! For purist die-cast collectors and racers, 3D printed vehicles aren't something to be entertained. 

However, in terms of pure gravity racing (as commented above by Chaos Canyon) then I'd say most things are acceptable within reason (and any rules for the track / tournament). 

Personally I'm still waiting for the affordable home-friendly 3D printer that spews out metal... but that's just me! And as Dr_Dodge mentioned, although you can create a mold and pour / inject your own liquid metal, that strikes me as going above and beyond! 

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Deedose 1/29/23

I've spent a lot of time trying to make 3D-printed cars , and I've come to understand it has just to much downsides to make a competitive car. These are the best 3D printed cars I've done:These cars aren' heavy enough. It is possible to add them some weight, but still pretty hard to push them past 30g.

Although, 3D printing can still be useful when it comes to completely redesigning the car base, if the original base is in plastic. I've already sent cars with 3D printed bases to races, and no one complained. The main advantage is that you can do basically whatever you want (suspentions) with the base very easily and with a perfect symmetry. Here is an example:The car body and wheels are stock, but I messed up while modifiying the base, and made it accidentaly unusable. 3D printing was the perfect solution.

  • nice design on the chassis — dr_dodge
  • Great design! This is most likely what I would use 3D printing for in racing. I have seen some custom builders make bases for their customs. — johnson9195
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dr_dodge 1/29/23

So, coincidentally, yesterday while we were discussing casting stuff, I was.

I am using 158°F "woods Metal" to make a high denstiy weight for the charger


I made a mold out of a piece of brass tubing, set it in an old mini cast iron pan and used my stove

break the pieces into little chunks and drop them in the mold

skim the top with a skewer to remove the oxidation, and cool 

the slug goes in a tubing spine, and is almost the same weight as the body untrimmed

pics below, ask away if you have more questions

(sure would be cool to cast that chassis above)

finished install of slug spine

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TheMakersBox 1/29/23

The Zamac purists are hillarous.  How many Hot Wheel cars have platic bodies?  Lots.  All the ones with the little "Best for Tracks" loop symbol.  I've yet to see a race listing prohibiting plastic bodies, but based on the opinions I'm seeing being voiced, maybe there should be!  

For me, 3D printing is just another tool in my arsinal.  I've used it to make accesories, drivers, wheel aligment jigs, and molds for casting weights.  I even used it to create a shipping container to protect the car that made the journey to Chaos Caynon!  If I had Deesose's file from the example above, I might try using the negative of it as a mold to cast the base in metal.  You could alter the thickness to hit what ever target weight you wanted!

Bismuth / tin alloy, by the way, is the answer.  Cheaper than tunsten, denser than zamac, easier to melt than lead.  Easy to cut, grind, drill, and tap.  And less toxic.  

All of the cars I have built for the upcoming Junkyard Joust have plastic bodies.  My "heavy" comes in at 198g.  It has the original interior, and an exceptionaly low center of gravity.  And a 3D-printed skelleton as a driver!

  • "Bismuth / tin alloy, by the way, is the answer." yup, and nice low temp to melt — dr_dodge
  • Gallium! Melts even easier. But if someone were to ask about printed vehicles/parts, the race host can always say no. — Object52
  • thats very true, ultimately it comes down to track rules anyway — dr_dodge
  • as far as galium, I am worried enough about doing a car that ships out of houston in august with the 158, hate to have a melted car show up to race — dr_dodge
  • Melting Gallium body entered by S. Dali. Crash will splatter against the wall, end up a Picasso. — Object52
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redlinederby 1/30/23
Site manager

Great topic...some thoughts... Is 3D printing the future? No. Like Maker Box said, it's a tool and can certainly add to your builds in very interesting ways. But 3D printing is still an expensive and complicated process. It just is. It's so much more convenient and affordable to buy a couple cars off the pegs, rip them apart, and glue them back together. 

Yes, 3D printers are pretty affordable-ish (<$200) but that just gets you the printer itself. It doesn't get you designs or teaches you how to make a 3D model that you can then print. Sure, you can find models online but then you'll just be printing what everyone else is printing. If you want a unique car that is your design, that means you gotta design it. If that type of challenge motivates you, go for it - but I don't think that will tickle most people's fancy. Think about all the cars and supplies you could buy for $200.

But I also agree with some of the comments here that at some point if everything is self-printed that it ceases to become racing toy cars and it's just racing custom models. Which is cool...but...not the same thing. When I started racing and tried to explain it to people, I equated it to the pinewood derby and everyone understood that. You get a kit and work from there within the rules. Everyone starts from the same kit and in our case, that kit are the $1 cars at Walmart. If you don't start there then I think it can turn into a different type of racing.

The hook of diecast racing is there is very little barrier to entry. Buy a car, change it, paint it, race it. It's very accessible for everyone at just about every skill level. It's easy to start, hard to master - the perfect game. But the further you get away from that the more complicated and divided the sport gets. On the surface this is no big deal but it will require a lot of organization so things can stay fun and fair.

(Off the track...if I had had a 3D printer when I was 11 years old and deep into my model train phase, woah boy, I woulda been a printing fool. Young with nothing but time to burn to learn. I'd probably still be running trains. LOL)

  • I agree with the barrier to entry and costs. Even terms of time cost, I could strip, mod and paint a diecast car in less time than it takes to 3D print a body, so there is also that — Chaos_Canyon
  • I build all my scene stuff for my train layout from scratch, and I've also drawn 3d in blender, if I wanted a rustic wood outhouse, I could scratch build it in 20 minutes. you couldn't draw and print in that time, and it would not be as detailed and random — dr_dodge
  • diecast is the same way, pile 'o parts some jb and you can make anything — dr_dodge

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