Inside Extreme Scale Tech|Saturday, October 25, 2014
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3D Printing Drives RC Car 

At this time of year, many of us come up with a New Years resolution or two, but how often do we actually achieve them? Andrew Lee, a Product Deign student at the esteemed Art Center College of Design, has done just that thanks to SolidWorks and a 3D printer.

Lee resolved to learn SolidWorks by first modeling an existing remote controlled (RC) car, and then by creating one of his own design. In conjunction with this design and production plan came clear design criteria, including durability in various driving conditions, and full drivability when assembled.

To begin, Lee modeled a stock RC car, then carefully removed key parts that can not yet be synthesized by a 3D printer such as the battery pack, speed controller, motor, AM receiver, the basic wheel assembly and the servo assembly.

The next step was to design a mockup that could test the printing process and the compatibility of each part with the components from the stock RC car. The design was then refined to include a durable body shell and a center shock to join the front and rear axles. Other elements that define the finished car include a raised suspension for “off-road” driving and a motor encased within the rear wheel.

When the parts were printed, painted and assembled, the result is a sophisticated, professional-looking prototype dubbed, “Prowler.”

But good looks aside, did the Prowler meet Lee’s expectations? While we can’t speak for Lee, videos of the Prowler seem to indicate it has.

The three-wheeled RC vehicle appears to have no trouble when it ventures onto off-road terrain, especially considering its size – most off-road RC cars look more like miniaturized monster trucks, and, while they can climb over some obstacles, their weight can slow them down. By contrast, the Prowler looks just as speedy and aggressive on the lawn as it does on the blacktop.

While we may not be seeing the Prowler in stores anytime soon, this project does showcase the versatility of 3D printing. Here, a student has demonstrated that he has just as much freedom to see his designs through to production as a design professional. Music production software has put the power to create in many more artists’ hands; perhaps 3D printing will do the same for amateur designers like Lee, providing the tools that allow good ideas to speak for themselves.

Read more about the Prowler at UType Design

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