3D Printing A Superman Hood Emblem

Intern Jacob Lehmann shares on his recent DIY solution to personalize his aging Beetle.

My 3D printed Superman Hood Emblem

By: Jacob Lehmann

final

I work at re:3D and my job is to figure out and test cool and unique ways to use our 3d printers. I have 2003 VW beetle (and I love it) but some of the aesthetics have been worn and aged poorly over the years. So I had the idea to custom print a rear hood ornament. My amazing bosses thought this was a great idea and helped me to design and realize this idea.

It was hard to pick what exactly I wanted to make for my car. After running through tons of ideas I finally decided that because of the deep sienna blue of my vehicle that a superman logo would look amazing on it. This is a picture of my car after I peeled off the old rusty and broken VW emblem.

before

First I designed the hood emblem in a free Cad software called Onshape. You can access the tool at this link: https://www.onshape.com/ if you are interested. I have also posted the .stl file for free on Sketchfab on re:3D’s account: https://sketchfab.com/models/06af3cf73bde417e9118aa1535afb820

After slicing the file for printing, we put it on the Gigabot and watched it come to life!
startingprint

halfprint

finishedprint

And then we tested it on my car.  After looking at it closely, I decided I wasn’t happy with the size and printed a second to fill up the space better.

testingprint

Before we started we knew that the final solution wasn’t going to be in PLA.  In the Texas summer sun, thermoplastics such as PLA warp when left in a car, let alone on the boiling hood. Although this material is perfect for 3d printing because it melts at roughly 190+ Celsius, that very feature makes it hard to use outdoors, inside of engines, or pretty much anywhere that gets hot.

Thankfully our friends at Deep in the Heart Art Foundry (who own some of our Gigabots and use them in their lost wax casting) were more than happy to help us cast an alternative. We originally wanted to cast the piece in bronze and patina it, but they suggested that it would look better and be much lighter to cast it in Stainless steel. You can check out some of their amazing works of art here http://www.deepintheheart.net/. Here is the piece once we got it back (with a little bit of polishing).

unpolished

And after I finished polishing and sanding the piece.

polished

Here is the finished stainless steel piece next to the smaller PLA prototype.

sidexside

Now all that was left to do was mount it on my vehicle. After cleaning the surface of my rear hood and the backside of the piece with some alcohol, and removing all the dust and grime, I placed some 3m double-sided tape on my car. NOTE: my bosses were concerned for my and other driver’s safety and have since purchased industrial epoxy.

3mtape

And finally, the beautiful hood emblem is complete and placed on my car. Now I can drive around fighting DC supervillains as much as I want.

final

Happy printing!

~Jake

  • Twitter: @jacobelehmann
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