large format 3d printing used to recreate part for 1913 fire engine

February 14, 2018

 In January, Raise3D used large format 3D printing technology to create a replacement water manifold for a 1913 Dennis Fire Engine for one of their forum users, Caxton3D. As many know, finding replacement parts for rare or specialized collector items, such as automobiles, antique planes and farm equipment,etc., can be difficult, if not impossible. In this case, the aluminum of the water manifold was so old it made welding difficult and unreliable, so 3D printing was the best cost-effective solution for replacing the part.

from prototype to product

To make the part, Caxton3D created a CAD file of the part in SOLDIWORKS and then used a Raise3D N2 Plus 3D printer to create a prototype. Raise3D N2 Plus is a 3D printer that has been used especially for 3D printing automotive parts in the past. The prototype was used to test the fit  in the engine, and then the team used pattern making to create a sand mold from the prototype. The final model needed to be created just a little larger than the prototype because the metal part would shrink a bit during cooling. The model was modified and altered to create a manifold face and a core. The water manifold sand mold needed to be cut into half because of its volume, so the company split the part to make mirror sides that could be put together.

pattern making is easier with large format 3d printing

There are several benefits to using 3D printing for pattern making. For one, casting a part out of metal have many variables to consider, such as contraction of the metal during cooling and the need for sand cores for hollow castings. Today, several patterns are still made from wood or wax, but since large sand printers are expensive and not very accessible to the public, complex or low volume parts are most cost effective to make using large format 3D printing. Many pattern shops, including Humtown Products and Hoosier Pattern, use 3D printing sand molds to directly print 3D sand molds for customers who need unique parts.

 Another benefit of using 3D technology for replacement parts is that once a digital model is created, it can be used again to make the same part. The digital file of the model can be sold to other collectors that need a replacement part. Potentially, all rare parts will be available online in the form of digital files, and all you would need is a 3D printer to access the rare part. There’s no doubt that large format 3D printing is a solution that helps save all of us time and money and resources to fix up our beloved antiques and collectors items.

Keep Reading: More articles on large format 3D printing

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