Creating Collectible Cars using your 3D Printer

Hot Wheels was established in 1965 and offered their first line of cars in 1968. Since that time, the brand has become synonymous with toy cars. Traditionally built of die-cast metals, but transitioning to plastics and other materials in recent years, Hot Wheel enthusiasts have a plethora of options. Those who are talented in 3D Printing have the option of creating their own designs and, either using them alongside pre-existing Hot Wheel chassis, or creating the entire model in a 3D program and printing it.

Building for Fusion

The Hot Wheel Fusion Factory is ideal for the 3D artist. Primarily, the kits have a mould and 2 die-cast chassis. What makes this ideal for any designer is that you can take the 1.8” by 5.8” (45.72mm by 147.32mm) box and model your frame accordingly. In theory, any vehicle that is on the market, or any artistic vision that you may have, can be turn from a conceptualisation into a 3D Printed part.

The main problem that building a Hot Wheel’s car from Fusion will present is that the measurements have to be spot on. If there are inaccuracies, then the car will not assemble properly. This could result in several iterations before you get the model correct.

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When modelling out vehicles, such as this one provided by CGTrader.com, the frame can be separated from the other parts. However, if 3D Printing for an existing chassis, you may find that size matching is extremely difficult and accurate tools, such as a Vernier Calliper, are recommended.

Making Hot Wheels from scratch

A more sensible solution to 3D Printing a Hot Wheel’s car would be to make the entire model and print out the layers. Unlike other designs which can be printed in one session, to ensure that the wheels move, the doors open (if you so choose) as well as any other details, layering is essential. It is recommended that you have the chassis as one piece, the interior seating/engine components as another, and the frame as a third. Keep in mind that you will need to have pegs or some form of “snap” connectivity between the pieces (or a strong glue).

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Here is an example of a Ford Mustang. If printed car is to be functional, ensure that you print the wheels separately from the main print.

Hot Wheels Prototyping

If you do not feel like making your own Hot Wheels, do not fret. Mattel/Hot Wheels has a number of prototype models that are offered for purchase. The company does require that you are a member of the Red Line Club. However, if you are a member of such, you can get prototypes of various models such as Volkswagens, superhero themed cars (based upon such movies as the Avengers, Star Wars, and other Marvel/Disney owned films), or race car prototypes. All of the Hot Wheels prototypes are limited edition, meaning that they are only available in a select number to a specific target market.

Keep in mind that because you are purchasing a collector’s product, that the price will be substantially higher than that of the common Hot Wheels. Where you could spend $5 on a regular vehicle at a store, the prototypes could go for as much as $300+ per vehicle.

How to build your Hot Wheels model for 3D Printing

You may wish to purchase a pre-made model or download blueprints of an existing vehicle and model it within a 3D software program. It is important to know that most of the models which you will find available are not designed for a 3D Printer. Neither is the standard methodology for modelling a car in 3Ds max, Maya, or Blender.

Traditionally, luxury cars are modelled using Nurbs and curved surfaces. And while these give the models a nice sleek appearance, and they do allow for some very nice materials and animation, it does not do well for 3D Printing. Simply exporting as a DWG does not work either, because the programs tend to triangulate and distort the model when doing so.

To model your vehicle properly, or to convert your model if you downloaded it, first ensure that the geometry is cleaned up (no overlapping vertex, lines, edges, or nonagons). Once you do this, convert the nurbs and surface to an edible poly. Quad any tris that you may have in the geometry. If the software that you are using has a poly counter, check your overall count. Remember, the higher the polycount the larger the file. Additionally, the more polygons that you have, the higher the chances that the 3D Printer will have issues with your model. Try to reduce the model’s faces as much as possible.

If you intend to print in layers, name all your layers properly. Be sure to turn all your layers on when you export to your 3D Printer. Most printers will allow you to specify which layers need to be printed. If using Octoprint or such monitoring software, you can ensure that the proper elements are being printed at the correct time.

Simulating Die-Cast

Depending upon the type of 3D Printer owned, it may be possible to replace the filament with a metal filament. If this is not an option, using silver filament will give you the appearance of the shiny chrome finish which is iconic to the Hot Wheel chassis.

Let your imagination take control

The world of Hot Wheels is ever expanding. Let your imagination and your creativity bloom and see what cars you can come up with. Do keep in mind that the Hot Wheels logo is copyrighted under Mattel, so any new creations should not have that stamp on them unless you have written permission from the company. Other than that, get your models, build your cars, and have fun.

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