By on August 1, 2013

aston body

A few weeks ago, we ran a post about a new computer driven tool developed by Ford that allows them to rapidly prototype sheet metal parts. At the time, I raised the potential that Ford’s Freeform Fabrication Technology might have for enthusiasts working on customizing or restoring cars. Load a sheet of metal in the frame, load a file on the computer, and watch it hammer out a fender for your classic or custom car. Apparently that wasn’t much of a stretch. Engadget reports on a New Zealand man named Ivan Sentch who is using an $800 desktop 3D printer to fabricate the body for a 1961 Series I Aston Martin DB4 replica he is making.

aston trunk

Technically speaking he’s not solid printing the actual car body, that’s going to be made of fiberglass, pulled from a mold made from a buck. A buck is a reproduction of a body in wood to which panels can be shaped or from which a mold can be made. It’s the surface of the buck that he’s printing. Bucks have been used since carriage making days, so Sentch is using an interesting combination of new technology and old school body making. What makes the project even more amazing is that his home 3D printer, a Solidoodle 2, can only make pieces as large as 150 by 150 by 150 millimeters, so Sentch is slowly covering the wooden framework of the buck with those small pieces. Think of it as a rather large 3D jigsaw puzzle. He started with the back deck, the “boot” as he calls it. One the buck is fully skinned with the 3D printed segments, Sentch will smooth everything out and use it to make the female body mold. It’s really a rather impressive accomplishment.

aston door frame

The finished body will hang on the bones and muscles of a  Nissan Skyline GTS25T donor car. The wheelbase is right and it should give the final product sufficient performance. Sentch already has used the same engine in a Ferrari 250 GTO replica that he finished before starting on the Aston Martin project.

aston door

According to the blog he’s keeping to record the build, Sentch currently has the “body” 72% printed, and a bit more than halfway assembled.

Ronnie Schreiber edits Cars In Depth, a realistic perspective on cars & car culture and the original 3D car site. If you found this post worthwhile, you can dig deeper at Cars In Depth. If the 3D thing freaks you out, don’t worry, all the photo and video players in use at the site have mono options. Thanks for reading – RJS

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7 Comments on “New Zealand Man 3D Prints An Aston Martin...”

  • avatar
    Pagani Baguette

    I wonder what are the legal implications (if any) in making an exact replica of a car like this? Is it perfectly “ok” as long as you do not sell it for profit, or is there a license fee that needs to be paid regardless, in this case to Aston Martin for using the design “as is”? Or is there such rule that as long as these is specific percentage of change/interpretation, it is no longer considered a copy?

    I am genuinely curious as I have the capability to undertake such project, but always wondered what are the legal issues I could be running into, especially if the replica is of a famous brand. Thanks!


    • 0 avatar

      Technically, there could be severe legal ramifications due to numerous potential copyright and trademark infringements.

      However, even massive corporations have discovered they can push enthusiast projects like this only too far. Producers of movies such as Star Wars have tolerated amateur films designed around their copyrighted and trademarked characters for a very long time, because squelching them tends to make fans angry, and angry fans don’t go to movies, buy DVDs or purchase merchandise.

      In the case of Aston Martin, it would be a little surprising if the producer of this car didn’t have some kind of affiliation with the company. Perhaps his dad is a customer, or someone he knows works for the company. Think about this, one disgruntled employee or customer could do a lot of damage to the company. So Aston Martin is likely to tolerate this effort, even if they could sue.

      Of course if thousands of people created their own replica Aston Martins, the company would have to take some kind of action against them, because the cars would then be competition against the original. But heck, this car is such a novelty it might actually sell for more than the original to an obsessed collector. And quite honestly, it looks like it probably took almost as much time to make as a real Aston Martin. This is no way to compete with the company!

      So they will probably let it slide. But if you make one, and your brother makes one, and his mother makes one … then things might become dangerous. But honestly, it seems like way too much work for almost anyone.

      Obviously this is not legal advice, I am not a lawyer, I accept no liability for anything you do, etc :).


      • 0 avatar
        Pagani Baguette

        Thank you David for the reply! No worries, I am not going to take your post as “legal advice” and blame you if anything ever happens to me :) I also see the matters more or less as you do, which still does not mean we are correct. Time will tell as there will be a lot more projects like this one in the near future. Thanks again for the lengthy reply, I appreciate it.

  • avatar

    Very Cool, he has had to spend a lot of money on material to print that and that printer has had to have been running for weeks on end. But a great means to his end and has got to be way easier than trying to form a wooden buck entirely by hand. It does seem like with a project like this he would have been a little better off spending a few more dollars on his 3D printer so he could print larger pieces. For a few hundred dollars more he could have got one that would print 12″ x 12″ and would have to print 1/4 of the number of pieces.

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al from Oz

      I wonder if the woman of the house will let him spend the extra couple hundred?

      She’s probably pissed that he living in the shed day and night doing this.

      So, he’s would be very happy:)

  • avatar

    How long before someone prints something like a Landstalker from GTA, and puts it on a donor Suburban chassis?


    No copyright infringement there, cause it’s not a real car.

  • avatar

    I’m fascinated by the long-term implications of this, especially for fans of esoteric but not ultra-rare classic cars.

    Got a Studebaker you need a fender for? No problem, just find one person with the same year and body style and intact sheetmetal, 3-D scan theirs, and print out the pattern to make a new one.

    Or to apply it to a wider audience, imagine getting into an accident and the local body shop simply downloads the patterns for the non-electronic parts and fabricates them on-site. This could reduce the need for parts inventory and ultimately reduce the cost of these parts since places like NAPA could stock raw materials locally.

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