Jay Leno is more than just a former host of the tonight show, or even a stand up comic. Jay is a car nut, and his has quite an impressive collection of automobiles from sports cars to trucks, to even tank like vehicles which are hybrids. But Jay also has some very old original automobiles with engines that have no replacement parts. And when one recently went down for good, it looked as if one of his cars would never run again. Then he got the idea to use a computer and 3D printer to make his own replacement parts. And it worked.
The part was a slide, or “D” vale from his 1907 White Steamer engine which had been used so much, that the metal had become porous, leaking oil and steam everywhere. Knowing that welding up any holes wouldn’t only do further damage, Leno and his mechanics used the NextEngine 3D scanner and Dimension 3D printer to scan the original part, make the necessary repairs digitally, and then simply reprint the part back. The Dimension 3D printer printed an exact copy of the part in plastic, which was then used to create a mold to recast the part back in it’s original form.
But parts aren’t the only thing. The printer means that obsolete tools used to work on the engines can also be fabricated digitally in the same fashion. These tools aren’t cheap, with the NextEngine scanner costing around $3K and the 3D printer running $15K. But it’s easy to envision services where it can be done far cheaper until the prices drop for every day use.
So, as time creates wider gaps between technology and real world use, gadgets like 3D scanners and printers are certain to close that gap to keep them running and in prime shape!
Hat Tip – Red Ferret