Kiwi 3D printing an Aston Martin

SIMON DAY
Last updated 15:07 02/08/2013
DANIEL GALVIN/Fairfax NZ

Aucklander Ivan Sentch shows us how he is using a 3D printer to create a 1961 Aston Martin DB4.

Ivan Sentch kneels in front of the mould for an Aston Martin DB4 replica which he is building with a 3D printer in his garage on Auckland's North Shore.
PETER MEECHAM/Fairfax NZ Zoom
Ivan Sentch kneels in front of the mould for an Aston Martin DB4 replica which he is building with a 3D printer in his garage on Auckland's North Shore.

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Three dimensional printers have built guns, bikinis, shoes, egg cups and iPhone cases. But one New Zealand man has taken the next big thing to the next level. He is printing a car.

And it's not just any car it's a replica of a 1961 Aston Martin DB4.

Using a $500 Solidoodle 3D printer, Ivan Sentch, a programmer from Auckland, is printing a mold of the the car.

"I have been printing since January and I have printed about 72 per cent of everything," Sentch said.

Sentch last project was a replica 250 GTO Ferrari kit car. But to do the same for the Aston Martin would have cost around $15,000.

So far he has spent around $2000 on plastic plus the initial price of the printer.

"For me it was a solution to a cost problem," he said.

This is Sentch's first attempt at 3D printing. And because the printer isn't big enough to print large pieces in one go, Sentch has printed around 2500 separate sections of the car's body.

He sets the design to print in the morning before work and in the evenings before bed. A move he initially thought was a bit dangerous, as the hot end that melts the plastic thread reaches 200 degrees.

"It has been a pretty big learning curve. It has been about figuring out the printing and getting some consistency," he said.

Once finished, he will make a fiberglass mould of the print and fit that to the engine, electrics, suspension and drivetrain of a 1993 Nissan Skyline. He will then have to build the interior.

The project is a labour of love that comes second to his day job and family life and Sentch doesn't expect to have the mould ready for another 18 months. He won't be driving the car for another five years.

"There is months of months of prepping before I can make that into a mould. It then has to be sanded back to a glassy finish," he said.

Sentch believes it will be at least a decade or two before 3D printing will be used regularly for useful projects.

"It seems at the moment people use it to make plastic stuff that they don't actually need," he said.

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