3D Printing a Lamborghini?

Posted October 09, 2019

By Dean Larson

As confirmed car nuts, it’s pretty obvious that we’ve always had custom automotive applications in mind when it comes to 3D printing. The technology has really come a long way, and it’s easier than ever to utilize “additive manufacturing” to create small parts, along with blanks for casting metal parts. But the flagship goal has always been to print a vehicle, and the tech-savvy firm Local Motors made quite a splash a few years back with their small car called the Strati, which is 75 percent 3D printed.

But the tantalizing aspect for regular guys like us is the potential to print something exotic at home, effectively digitizing the manufacturing process for complicated parts like body panels. Think of it; you’d download some files, hit print, and your part is half done by the time you’re showered and had a cup of Joe. That’s what we were thinking when we read the headline “Dad 3D-printed a Lamborghini because his son liked one in Forza,” but what’s the real scoop?

While we found the headline to be romanticized a bit, the bones of it are true. Sterling Backus, a laser physicist in Boulder, Colorado, has indeed been constructing a Lamborghini Aventador copy using 3D-printed parts after his 11-year-old son remarked, “can we build one,” in relation to an Aventador in the video game Forza. The car, dubbed the AXAS Interceptor, is reported to be about 75 percent completed at this time and has even moved under its own power. But the process has been a bit more involved than simply downloading and hitting Command-P.

In reality, the 3D-printed parts were done in bite-sized sections on a regular Creality CR-10 105 3D printer that Sterling purchased on Amazon. These small sections are joined together using an adhesive to create the rough form of a fender, hood, scoop or otherwise. To add strength and protect the panels from heat, Sterling also encapsulated the 3D-printed plastic in carbon fiber and resin in a vacuum bag process. The panels are still rough after these processes, and Sterling is still getting the finish to an acceptable level. After showing off the car in carbon fiber for a bit, they plan on doing more conventional bodywork and painting the car.

But of course the headline-grabbing body has been just part of the project, and Sterling has remarkably tackled all parts of the build himself. That includes that chassis, which is made from square steel tubing. While it’s a pretty basic design, it should get the job done, but I’d imagine a few improvements are in order given the car’s powertrain — a twin turbocharged LS1 with a Porsche G96 transaxle.

In addition to thrilling his son, Sterling has a higher goal in mind for the project. He'd like to take the car around to local schools after its completed to hopefully inspire students to look into careers in science, technology, math and the arts.

Naturally for YouTube productions, Sterling's video updates have garnered hundreds of comments, most positive, but some negative. And while there are things here and there that will turn up noses, you’d have to be Sergio Scaglietti himself to not respect what Sterling has accomplished. At the whim of his son, this guy started an exhaustive creative process to bring an exotic car from a video game to life, and that’s pretty amazing, especially if you’re Sterling’s 11-year-old son.

For now, we’re still waiting for that game-changing build, or piece of technology that allows us to build a body at home without lifting a finger. But then again, where’s the beauty in that?

For the full scoop, check out Sterling's YouTube channel lasersterling here, and you can follow them on Facebook here at 3D Car Printing.

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