Jay Leno’s Contribution to Auto Part 3D Printing

It is well known that Jay Leno is an avid car enthusiast and has a world-renowned collection of nearly 300 vehicles. What isn’t as well known is that his team does their own car repair and utilizes 3D printing for replacement parts. It can be difficult and costly finding parts for vintage cars that ended final production many years ago.  Most car collectors don’t have enough vehicles to justify experimenting with 3D part design and production. Specialty replacement parts providers are few and far between. Waiting for a few parts can tie up a garage repair bay for a long time. Jay Leno is showing the auto industry how to address these issues with 3D printing. Companies and individuals engaged in the classic car business are eligible for R&D tax credits.

The Research & Development Tax Credit

Enacted in 1981, the now permanent Federal Research and Development (R&D) Tax Credit allows a credit that typically ranges from 4%-7% of eligible spending for new and improved products and processes. Qualified research must meet the following four criteria:

  • Must be technological in nature
  • Must be a component of the taxpayer’s business
  • Must represent R&D in the experimental sense and generally includes all such costs related to the development or improvement of a product or process
  • Must eliminate uncertainty through a process of experimentation that considers one or more alternatives

Eligible costs include US employee wages, cost of supplies consumed in the R&D process, cost of pre-production testing, US contract research expenses, and certain costs associated with developing a patent.

On December 18, 2015, President Obama signed the PATH Act, making the R&D Tax Credit permanent. Beginning in 2016, the R&D credit can be used to offset Alternative Minimum Tax, for companies with revenue below $50MM and for the first time, pre-profitable and pre-revenue startup businesses can obtain up to $250,000 per year in payroll taxes and cash rebates.

The large auto manufacturers and their suppliers have experimented with 3D part design but to date have not yet evolved to volume production.  Leno serves as an additional auto parts design incubator and an example the auto industry can learn from.

Other Classic Car Part Designer Examples


Porsche is among the leaders in manufacturing specialized high-performance sports vehicles, and has been doing so for nearly 90 years. Porsche is integrating 3D printing to keep their older model vehicles running and eliminate expensive tooling and storage costs for numerous classic Porsche models. Cars such as the 1986 Porsche 959 where only 292 were built require special parts that do not exist anymore and would take a series of complex tooling to acquire a necessary part. With Porsche’s digital fabrication processes, they can simply scan and print a single part instead of producing numerous small run expensive components that require entire tooling mechanisms. Porsche is currently utilizing 3D printing to print eight other components from plastic or steel and is testing whether 3D printing can be used to reproduce many more components.


Mercedes-Benz is a global automobile marquee known for their luxury vehicles and trucks that has been a consistent adopter of the latest technology to improve upon their past, present and future product lines. Mercedes-Benz can essentially print any part for any car they’ve ever built just as long as they have the schematics or part in hand to duplicate it. Customers are closer now to having access to a large catalog of replacement or custom parts that Mercedes can print and ship in a short amount of time. The utilization of 3D printing removes the overhead of machining expensive parts and tools while setting up a market to sell what were once very expensive parts, for a fraction of the cost.

Freshmade 3D

Freshmade 3D in Ohio is a team of highly skilled individuals with extensive experience in additive manufacturing, materials and processes, industrial design and reverse engineering. They strive to provide precious antique and valuable classic car parts that become increasingly difficult to find every day through the use of 3D printing methods, and are poised to lead the industry in serving restoration and custom automotive markets. With few alternatives for finding a classic car replacement part, Freshmade 3D gives enthusiasts a valuable option to use additive manufacturing to engineer quality parts or prototypes that would be much more expensive if the parts were to be machined. Freshmade 3D offers a wide range of materials and small-medium scale manufacturing that will satisfy most car part needs.


PartWorks is a 3D printing and CNC machining company out of Georgia that uses the latest technology to deliver the best manufactured parts for many of the leading industries. PartWorks has become especially adept in the vintage car sector where they are capable of engineering obsolete and custom parts that cannot be found in production today. PartWorks is unique because they utilize precision laser scanners, 3D printers, CNC machining and injection molds/stamps that allow their customers the options of having the part made in house or offering an open format file of a 3D model that can be printed or edited by the customer themselves.


GRYP is a French startup that is using 3D printing to create classic car parts on-demand in an attempt to reduce restoration costs. Their goal is to allow collectors to restore their vintage cars at a consistent and affordable cost to continue the prestigious heritage of such vehicles. GRYP works with numerous automobile clubs and associations, spare parts distributors, and local 3D printing companies in an attempt to integrate large scale 3D printing not only to the classic car sector but to the automotive industry as a whole.


The world had enjoyed Jay Leno’s humor for many years. Now he’s bringing his expertise and creativity to provide design leadership for the automotive industry while having his own fun. Even though Leno retired from late night public television, he still continues his on-camera appearances with his own YouTube channel called Jay Leno’s Garage, dedicated to 3D printing and cars, and has garnered more than 2 million subscribers as he spreads the benefits of utilizing 3D printing.

Discuss this and other 3D printing topics at 3DPrintBoard.com or share your thoughts below. 

Charles Goulding & Ryan Donley of R&D Tax Savers discuss automotive 3D printing. 


Shapeways Unveils In-house Customizable Jewelry Collection

We’ve previously covered the new set of services and tools Shapeways’ announced recently. Among these plans, Shapeways announced the Spring and Wonder collection, which Shapeways has just launched for the public. The Spring and Wonder collection promises fully customizable jewelry to its customers along with custom packaging. The company has stated that they built the […]

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French Artist Presents the Tiniest 3D Printed Self-Portrait You’ve Ever Seen (Or Not Seen)

Michel Paysant

There’s something magnificent about a mural or a massive statue, but when it comes to art, bigger does not always mean better. In fact, some of the most remarkable pieces of art are so small that they can’t even be seen by the naked eye. Consider this nanoscale nativity scene, or this itty-bitty Wall of China, or this miniscule pyramid. 3D printing has evolved to the point that it can create items of incredible detail at sizes smaller than a human hair, and that’s pretty cool, to put it simply.

Microlight3D is a French company that specializes in bioprinting, two-photon polymerization and 3D microfabrication. In a collaboration with artist Michel Paysant, the company has created what it is calling the smallest sculpture in the world. Paysant, who has exhibited at the Louvre, combines art with technology to create striking visual works including a series of self-portraits. One day, he decided to 3D print his own head. He certainly wouldn’t be the first one to do so, but he didn’t want to create just an ordinary 3D print, so he contacted Microlight3D after 3D scanning himself.

Microlight3D took the high-resolution scan and 3D printed it at a resolution of 0.2 microns, or 0.0002 millimeters. Michel Bouriau, CTO of the company, handled the 3D printing and came up with a work of art so small that it requires a microscope to see. Once you look through that microscope, however, you can easily see the amazing detail in the sculpture, which has a height of 80 microns, or 0.08 millimeters, about the size of an ant’s eye. Never thought much about the size of an ant’s eye? That’s because you can’t see it – not without a microscope.

Microlight3D is a young company that has only been selling its 3D printers since January 2017, but 15 years of research into two-photon polymerization at the University Grenoble-Alpes has led to a great deal of expertise in tiny 3D printing. Nanoscale 3D printing is a technology that is still in development, and it has a lot of potential for next-generation medical treatments, computer applications, aerospace engineering and more.

Just a few months ago, YouTube star James Bruton made the record books for creating the tallest 3D printed sculpture of a human. His statue came in at 3.62 meters, or nearly 12 feet, tall. If you enjoy math, I challenge you to calculate how many of Paysant’s microscopic sculptures could fit on Bruton’s giant one. When Bruton broke the record, it hadn’t been held for very long, and neither had the previous record before that. We’ll see how long Bruton holds it, because 3D printed creations just keep getting bigger and bigger. Size isn’t really a limitation when it comes to 3D printing, so it won’t be surprising if someone else comes up with a smaller sculpture than Paysant’s before long.

Paysant’s nanoscale sculpture will be on display to the public – with microscope handy – at the Artotheque FRAC Limousin New Aquitaine from June 27th to November 3rd.

Discuss this and other 3D printing topics at 3DPrintBoard.com or share your thoughts below. 

[Images: Microlight3D]


Creating Customized Gifts

Weddings are filled with gifts, and not just the ones you receive. The mother of the bride, the bridesmaids, the groomsmen, they all get gifts from the bride and groom. I wanted to give my groomsmen gifts they couldn’t get anywhere else, and that meant designing them myself.

lightbulb cufflink for groomsmen

If you’re haven’t been following along, I’m Dan, and this month I’m sharing how I used 3D printing to personalize my wedding. For my groomsmen, I wanted something uniform they could wear at the wedding, but also something that was unique to each of them, so I made them cufflinks. Like the engagement and wedding rings I designed and 3D printed, I got much more for my money than I would have if it I’d bought cufflinks retail, and the gifts were meaningful and truly personal.

Dream Up the Design

This was the hardest part: deciding what to make for each of them. Some ideas came more fully formed and I started with those. Others I needed to play with for a bit, sketching out various ideas until I landed on the one that felt right.

3D model of lightbulb cufflink

3D model of lightbulb cufflink

Model the Designs

I used OnShape, learning hands-on as I went. I started with the designs I knew I could model while researching the features to make the other shapes. At one point I discovered I couldn’t make as intricate a design as I wanted, so had to rework my idea until it came out right.

… or Alter an Existing Model

For the airplane cufflinks I made for one of my groomsmen who loves to travel, the perfect 3D printed plane already existed on Thingiverse. The copyright was open to use, and I confirmed with the artist that he was okay with my altering his design, so I simply replaced the base he had for the airplane with a cufflink stem.

plane cufflink for groomsmen

Airplane Jet Cufflink

Add a Monogram

To personalize these even more, my groomsmen’s initials were engraved into the base of each cufflink. I designed this in CAD as I couldn’t mirror the text for the left and right cufflink but needed to mirror them separately, then change the orientation and add it into my OnShape model of the design.

Prototype the Design

I printed the cufflinks in Versatile Plastic to test out the designs on one of my shirts. I discovered I needed to thicken the stem as well as tweak a few of the designs to make them all approximately the same size. Then I printed the final versions in Silver.

Globe cufflink before and after processing

Before and after using silver polish

Give it a Handmade Touch

I’d seen that you could polish silver, adding a chemical patina to it that gave the design more depth and detail. I tested this out on a sample and then polished each cufflink with Liver of Sulpher to give it more of a multi-dimensional, handmade feel.


The gift wasn’t a total surprise since I’d told my groomsmen they didn’t need to get cufflinks for their tuxedo shirts, but that I’d designed each cufflink for them complete with monogram blew them away. They were excited by this and had fun showing them off at the wedding and explaining the meaning of their wearing a plane, a globe, a lightbulb, a guitar and a wedge of cheese.

custom made cufflinks for groomsmen

The whole process took about two months, designing the cufflinks on a rolling basis, with about a week or two to conceive and model a design and two weeks to print it. You can always use Design with Shapeways to help you create your ideal gift.

And no, I did not design cufflinks for myself. I found the perfect pair in one of our community members’ shops instead!

What would you design for your wedding party or to wear at your wedding?




**Updated by Kendall Fately on 6/21/18

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Carbon Partners PADT Opening 3D Printing Factory

You may not have heard of Phoenix Analysis and Design Technologies (PADT), but they have recently procured a major partnership. The company is looking to open a 3D printing factory in Phoenix in collaboration with Carbon. Both companies have announced a certified partnership and claim that this will be the “first true” 3D printing factory in […]

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Togo Tests Crucial 3D Printed Orthpaedic Procedure

African countries such as Togo are not always in a position for top-notch medical care. While this may be the case normally, they are testing a new orthapaedic procedure that will revolutionise medical implementation. By 3D scanning and then producing crucial bone structures and supports, doctors can provide care to those who may not ordinarily […]

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Naval Group and Centrale Nantes Create First 3D Printed Military Propeller Blade

3D printing is making an impact on the maritime industry, which is no small feat considering the number of regulations involved in making anything that can actually be used in the industry. So it was quite a task that a group of partners accomplished when they introduced the WAAMpeller, the world’s first class-approved 3D printed ship’s propeller, last year. The WAAMpeller was created using Wire and Arc Additive Manufacturing, or WAAM, a fast, inexpensive hybrid method of 3D printing.

The WAAMpeller now has some competition in the arena of 3D printed propeller fame. Naval Group, a French industrial group that specializes in naval defense and marine renewable energy, has partnered with fellow French institution Centrale Nantes, a school that has worked with WAAM itself in the past, to create the first full-scale 3D printed propeller blade demonstrator for military applications. The large, complex propeller blade weighs more than 300 kg and paves the way for the manufacture of more geometrically complex propellers in the future.

“Printing this demonstrator is a major step towards the manufacture of innovative propellers by additive manufacturing,” said Vincent Geiger, Director of Naval Group’s Naval Research Technology Research Center. “These initial results mean that it’s possible to envisage the short-term commissioning of differentiated propellers for the ships that will use them.”

The 3D printed propeller blade is another example of a part that could not have been made with more traditional manufacturing processes. By allowing for more innovative designs, additive manufacturing enables naval components that are more efficient, with more autonomy, better propulsion, strength and lightening.

“Additive manufacturing is a process that offers unlimited possibilities: less material used, integration of additional features and geometrically-complex parts assembly,” said Professor Jean-Yves Hascoët, who heads up the Rapid Manufacturing Platform at Centrale Nantes, in the GeM laboratory (UMR CNRS 6183). “It allows for new designs, weight savings, lower manufacturing costs.”

[Image via Centrale Nantes]

Naval Group is the European leader in naval defense, with a presence in 18 countries. The company designs, produces and supports both submarines and surface ships, and provides services for naval shipyards and bases. It also offers a wide range of marine renewable energy solutions.

Centrale Nantes was founded in 1919 and trains engineers in the scientific and technical skills they need to make an impact in the workforce. The school has a strong program in additive manufacturing, and is involved in other research into additive manufacturing and naval applications, including propellers. Its industrial capabilities and expertise in trajectory generation and additive manufacturing make it a valuable partner on this latest project.

From submarine hulls to replacement parts, 3D printing is making its presence known in the naval and marine sectors. The appeal of the technology is the same as it is in other industries such as aerospace and automotive: it’s faster, less expensive, and can create novel geometries with capabilities beyond anything that can be created using conventional manufacturing techniques. Additive manufacturing often results in much more lightweight components, which enable ships, planes and automobiles to be speedier and more efficient, saving both money and energy.

Discuss this and other 3D printing topics at 3DPrintBoard.com or share your thoughts below.


Mainstreaming of Additive Manufacturing: An Ecosystem Perspective

This week’s busy and informative Science in the Age of Experience event, held in Boston, highlighted the 3DEXPERIENCE of organizer Dassault Systèmes‘ partners and customers as 3D technologies make more integrated platform thinking possible. Starting off the event, co-located with the 3DEXPERIENCE Forum, was Monday’s Additive Manufacturing Symposium, which brought together experts across a variety of disciplines and focuses working with industrial 3D printing technologies.

Subham Sett, Director, Additive Manufacturing & Materials, was one of the driving forces behind the Symposium experience as he was for last year’s, and it was a pleasure to speak with him again as we sat down to discuss the merits of such gatherings as well as the direction of the industry.

“When we started planning for the event, last year we looked at everything from conceiving the product to making it. We had a vision for material, design, manufacturing, and marketplace, but we weren’t in a place to say everything is out there to see, or it wasn’t widespread. A year later, we’re there,” he told me of the coming together of this resource and the progress made in just one year in the industry.

“We can see that in the tracks; there’s a growing ecosystem, and users, with thought leaders willing to come and speak of their own experiences. We heard from Airbus and the journey they started in this direction. A nice thing from the Airbus keynote was to see everything start with design on the project [Sjoerd Van der Veen] was talking about, which was under way I want to say two years ago. At our users’ conference in 2015, Airbus challenged us to see what Dassault can do end to end… It’s been great to see not onlyt that, but to hear from Boeing too. These challenges from the biggest names in aerospace, and how we talk about going from concept to production.”

Subham Sett, far right, kept the 3D printing panel conversation going as the moderator

Given the breadth of industries putting Dassault Systèmes’ portfolio of services to use, taking ideas through to production requires a strong look at design. By incorporating 3D printing more significantly into the workflow, design for additive manufacturing (DfAM) figures more strongly into consideration, particularly when looking toward the rising need for functional parts.

“Design is the first step, looking at lightweighting, at topology optimization. For the industry to grow and become mainstream, these parts have to be in production in the field. Our focus is printable,” Sett said.

“What’s really driving this shift toward performance in additive is material. Additive is science; we’re bringing in the physics to make it functional.”

The sessions, including the breakout tracks, were designed to bring a variety of perspectives to showcase the importance of these sciences in industrial 3D printing. Sett underscored that Dassault Systèmes is focusing on developing simulation from a material perspective and a process perspective, in a material- and process-agnostic way. It is, as he calls it, any material, any machine. This approach allows users to meet their needs without needing to turn to new software packages; “All of it can be done by a very simple customization process,” Sett noted.

By leveraging experience gained across platforms such as CATIA over the last two decades-plus, the Dassault Systèmes team has been developing their additive manufacturing applications by “using the same digital thread, parametric geometry,” and having been exposed to users’ applications ranging from functional design to shape compensation. Compensating for distortion ahead of a print job allows for the part to come out right the first time, thanks to simulation.

“We are at a point in additive manufactuing where it’s still not mainstream, and there’s a lot to figure out. Technologies are changing at such a rapid pace it almost feels like the latest and greatest for technology is in the additive space. There is not enough being done yet to address how the end user approaches it, though. I feel that’s a shared responsibility for the ecosystem, whether software like us or OEMs, to come together to design programs, whether graduate or undergraduate level programs, to train more,” Sett said, pointing to the critical consideration of workforce education and training.

“With Dassault Systèmes we’ve started the journey already; you can see that in the [co-located student] hackathon, they have access to our whole software suite, working in one environment through the cloud. They can be productive, they can communicate with the machine. This is a bridge between the digital world and the real world. More needs to be done at the curriculum level, and we’re talking with several universities to add to the curriculum. A lot more needs to be done.”

Keeping on this train of thought, we touched on the need for training and certification in the industry as well. The current workforce requires more training to be ready to bring these new technologies on-site — and they need the reassurance that it will be worth it. Certification of parts for end use is a major focus in particularly the highly-regulated aerospace and medical sectors, and will have a cumulative effect of highlighting the quality and consistency with which additive manufacturing can produce parts for industry.

“Where we are seeing a lot of interest for functional parts is in aerospace and defense, but also in life sciences. Not just for customized tools, either; this is an area users and cusotmers are encouraging us to push. Life sciences are seeing more focus in materials qualification and process certification. These industries are leading the charge for usable parts. Hopefully others will follow suit,” he said.

For additive manufacturing to truly become mainstream, Sett pointed out, functional parts need to come into existence.

“Part of that picture is getting the whole supply chain on a certification track. It’s a shared responsibility to move the industry along,” he said.

[Image: Dassault Systèmes]

Part of that shared responsibility also means building up a better experience for users. One challenge many potential users are facing, and one directly impacting Dassault Systèmes, comes in the form of software. Some users have reported as many as 10 different software programs coming into play. “Engineers, designers, simulation analysts, and manufacturers are not just looking at software that looks integrated on the surface,” Sett pointed out, but require actual integration in real-world conditions.

“There’s are productivity loss issues that come with learning multiple software packages. Clearly there’s recognition of this in the additive manufacturing industry as it’s maturing. Being able to connect all this in a digital thread that takes it all the way through machines is necessary,” he said. “There’s a need for hardware and software guys to come together to complete the user experience — not just the user experience, but the whole journey… From the Dassault Systèmes side, we want to bridge that gap from concept to production so we can focus more on production.”

Ultimately, he told me, the message he’s looking to get out there is that, “We want to make additive real for the enterprise.”

An entire ecosystem is necessary for industrial 3D printing to truly take its place as part of the mainstream manufacturing industry, with all aspects connecting much more seamlessly than they are now.

Discuss Dassault Systèmes, industry challenges, and other 3D printing topics at 3DPrintBoard.com or share your thoughts in the Facebook comments below.

[All photos: Sarah Goehrke]


Dutch Manufacturer VormVrij Unveils LUTUM v4 Clay Printer Series

Netherlands-based VormVrij has just revealed their plans for releasing their new LUTUM v4 series of printers. This successor series to the v3 is a metal-bodied product line that uses all forms of Clay as the print material. The new series specialises in pottery, with the ability to print clay figurines, pots and items from 50-80 […]

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