Audi Spacer & 3D PrintingMore Random 07 May 2014
This is a pretty cool example of how 3D printing is helpful in my day to day projects. It’s always useful to be able to produce a huge variety of geometries accurately and quickly with little to no effort on my part. I redesigned this spacer slightly to accommodate a different model of Audi than it was intended for, printed it to check dimensions, and then made it in metal.
This is a mounting plate for a after-market Audi transmission stabilizer bar. The bar mounts to other areas of the frame and bolts to the transmission through this piece. The bar was actually made for another model Audi, so the mounting plate needed to be thickened. I measured the plate and modelled it in Solidworks. I then thickened it and printed a copy. I test fit this in the car, and confirmed it was the right size. I got a piece of aluminum from a local shop and milled it down to thickness, drilled, countersunk, and tapped some holes. Shimming it probably would have been an acceptable solution, but there’s no reason to have extra shims rattling around when I can make the right size.
A lot of people are pretty confused about 3D printing. Most average people think it’s a miracle and that we’ll all be printing cell phones in a few years. A lot of engineers I know have sort of revolted against them and think they’re useless since they only make flimsy junk. I stand somewhere in the middle. 3D printers are not nearly as great as people think. They’re difficult to maintain, devilishly tricky to calibrate, and extraordinarily sensitive to any change. I like to compare them to regular printers. Printers are probably the most hated and unreliable piece of consumer electronics, except really expensive commercial ones. 3D printing is almost the exact same.
There is also the issue of having something to print. The first time someone finds out I have a 3D printer, their first response is to ask me to print something. I always respond that I’m willing to print them anything, probably for free if it’s small, and they just have to ask. I’ve only ever printed 3 or 4 objects for others in my year and a half of owning a printer. I think it just comes down to the fact that normal people do not recognize the issues in their daily life that they could fix with a 3D printer. We’ve been buying things our whole life, but it’s extremely rare to have the opportunity to choose what we want, custom. People don’t recognize what they want, or are simply too overwhelmed to decide.