3D print hot wheels

Hot Wheels Uses 3D Printing to Miniaturize Real-Life Custom Cars - 3DPrint.com

Have you ever wanted your favorite real-life custom car as a Hot Wheel model? Well, the possibility is now within reach. Ever since 2018, Hot Wheels has been conducting its Legends Tour, holding events across the US, for children and adults, to select a chosen fan’s real-life custom car and re-create it as a 1:64 Hot Wheels toy die-cast model.

Hot Wheels, owned by Mattel, has developed over 25,000 unique vehicle designs over the last 50 years, and was looking for distinctly creative and custom-built (not bought) real-life cars as the goal of its Legends Tour. In 2018, the winning design was the 2JetZ from Luis Rodriguez in Las Vegas. In 2019, it was The Nash from Greg Salzillo in Monterey. His custom rat rod, a deliberately worn down hot rod version of the 1957 Nash Metropolitan was selected as the winner from among nearly 5,000 entries in last year’s competition. His real-life custom-made version replaced the chassis, and the original 40 hp engine with a 300 hp block Chevy V-8, including a pair of dice over the air filters, exposed through the hood.

Greg Salzillio with his winning entry and Hot Wheels-made car. Image courtesy of Hot Wheels and Mattel

Traditionally, the creation of a miniature car at Hot Wheels begins with a sketch, followed by physical modeling or sculpting of clay by hand, with various iterations until all details are finalized and then die cast for production.

Image courtesy of Hot Wheels

Typically, the company takes about 12 to 18 months to go from identifying a full-scale vehicle design to having a miniature version in retail stores. Today, the design and manufacturing process includes advanced digital elements, in 3D design, modeling, sculpting and 3D printing.

The real custom car – The Nash. Image courtesy of Hot Wheels and Mattel

To recreate the Nash, Hot Wheels designer and sculptor Manson Cheung initially sought the original blueprints and designs of the Metropolitan so that he could obtain the fundamental shape of the car—much as Salzillo would have done in building the full-scale custom car. The initial sketches serve not only to develop the miniature design from the life-size one, but also to break the car up into the fundamental four pieces of any Hot Wheel model: the body, windows, interiors and the chassis with wheels.

Fundamental components of a Hot Wheel design. Image courtesy of Hot Wheels and Mattel

For the next step, Cheung doesn’t model using physical clay, but virtual clay, with a 3D Systems Touch X haptic feedback device. He then 3D prints color models using a Stratasys J750 color 3D printer, or for higher-resolution monochrome designs, a Formlabs SLA 3D printer.

The Touch X haptic feedback device allows designers to ‘feel’ virtual 3D models and manipulate the design as if it was a physical model. It combines with Geomagic Freeform or Sculpt 3D software for easy integration with 3D sculpting or modeling tools. Outside of modeling, the device is also used by surgeons to refine their technique, and to provide medical interns with virtual clinical surgery training so they can get the touch and feel of the actual procedure and improve their accuracy prior to entering the live surgical environment.

“Touch X haptic devices allow a user to feel 3D on-screen objects by applying force feedback on the user’s hand, and the Touch X delivers expanded, true-to-life sensations with a more fluid feel and lower friction. Its durability, affordability, and accuracy make the Touch X haptic device ideal for commercial, medical, and research applications, especially when compactness and portability matter.”

In making the virtual clay model, Cheung points out that “it is very much like sculpting by hand because you have that arm movement, you can feel the digital clay.”

The real-life custom car and the Hot Wheels model do have differences, as features and detail are reduced or eliminated to produce the Hot Wheels miniature. Cheung does try to capture as much detail as he can, saying, “I tried to replicate everything in the interior. It had heated leather seats and the back of the seats had some detail, so I tried to include that in there. Sometimes in production, we lose that, but I put that in, in case we can get it. We sent it off to our Asian counterparts to deal with production. Sometimes they use thicker or thinner material. There were some slight changes. Some engine detail was lost because of those production issues. The cockeyed dice were one such casualty. That was lost because of tooling issues.”

Iterations using 3D printed prototypes. Image courtesy of Hot Wheels and Mattel

To develop a physical model from this, the virtual model is sent to a farm of ten 3D printers used by Mattel, with colors specified.

As 3D printing specialist at Mattel, Shane Thompson, explains, “For the majority of requests, we’ll print using our Stratasys J750 color printer which can print more than 500,000 color combinations including Pantone colors. This process is called PolyJet printing which uses 4 print heads that have 2 rows of microscopic nozzles on each head that the resin gets jetted out from. This machine prints in layers of about .001 of an inch which gives us really good resolution and surface finish. The build frame for this machine is 19.3″ x 15.4″ x 7.9″ so we can print many parts at once.”

To 3D print the Hot Wheel models, which are typically two to three inches long, up to 35 resins can be used to develop accurate miniature prototypes. Once the design is virtually sculpted and prototyped, and the final design is developed and crash-tested. Yes, Hot Wheels crash tests its models for stability and strength. Files are then shipped for manufacturing and production in Asia. With this digital workflow, the design process for the Nash took only 40 hours, and Cheung says this would normally take him 50-80 hours.

The Hot Wheels Nash model, which won last year, will now be available in stores this December. While Salzillo paid nearly $10,000 to build his real-life custom car, the Nash Hot Wheel model will be available for $1.09.

Image courtesy of Hot Wheels and Mattel

In addition to the Legends Tour, Mattel has long been investing in 3D design and manufacturing technologies to improve their design and manufacturing process, and to bring new toys, personalized products and customization to its traditional customer base. In 2016, they had unveiled their $300 3D printer, the ThingMaker, that was developed in partnership with Autodesk, for kids to make their own toys via a basic smartphone design app.

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Tagged with: 3D printed miniaturization • 3d printed toys • 3D Systems Touch Haptic 3D Stylus • custom car design • Formlabs 3D printer • Geomagic Freeform • geomagic sculpt 3d modeling software • hot wheels • Manson Cheung • mattel • Mattel’s ThingMaker 3D printer • Stratasys J750 3D printer

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3D printing — Worldskills Russia national team

3D printing technology was invented back in the 80s of the last century, but became popular not so long ago. With this printing method, the material is layered on top of each other, forming a finished product, and not just a two-dimensional image. Thanks to this, the possibilities of 3D printing are almost limitless: you can produce both a small high-precision part and an entire structure! In this tutorial, we'll walk through the entire 3D printing process from start to finish.


In order to successfully master the material, we recommend that you study the following concepts:

Apparatus that works on the principle of additive manufacturing. The finished product is, as it were, “grown” from a certain material

The principle of production, in which the finished product is formed by gradually adding material to the base

Programs that allow you to cut STL models into layers and, based on this, generate a G-code in which commands are written for 3D printer

Video Lecture


Additive Manufacturing Technologies

There is a huge variety of 3D printing technologies in the world today, from the oldest and simplest FDM technology to the emerging 3D bioprinting technology.

SLA (Stereolithography)

Technology for the production of models from liquid photopolymer resins. The polymerization of the resin occurs due to irradiation with an ultraviolet laser at the points of contact of the material with the beam. Upon completion of the contour construction, the working platform is immersed in a tank with liquid resin for a distance equal to the thickness of one layer. After leveling the surface of the liquid material, the process of building the next layer begins. The cycle is repeated until the complete model is built.

The main advantage of stereolithography is its high printing precision. The minimum layer height can be as low as 25 microns.

Among the shortcomings, it is worth noting the high cost of manufactured models due to the high price of consumables.

Here is an example of a printed part with mechanical supports.

SLS (Selective Laser Sintering)

In this manufacturing process, a laser selectively sinters polymer powder particles, fusing them together to create layer after layer.

This technology provides high precision, detail and allows the production of parts with good and stable mechanical properties, unlike FDM and SLA. And printing in the volume of consumables allows you to print parts of even the most complex shape without mechanical supports.

Here is an example of a part printed using this technique.

MJP (Multi Inkjet 3D)

This technology is based on the layering of an object from a wax-based photopolymer to build supports and a resin with properties selected for the part itself.

MJP is somewhat similar to SLA technology: both use photopolymer resins and UV lasers. But MJP is distinguished by more detailed printing and the presence of wax supports, which, in turn, allows you to completely get rid of the post-processing of the model.

This is what a part made using this technology looks like.

CJP (colour inkjet)

The principle of printing is to apply powdered materials layer by layer, after which a binder polymer is applied. The peculiarity of the technology is that polymers of different colors can be used, which makes it possible to create multi-colored and textured parts.

This technology is used to create realistic prototypes of buildings, clothes and shoes, human organs in medicine, and to make scanned human figures.

FDM (Fusion Deposition Modeling)

This technology is printed by fusing the material layer by layer.

Although FDM technology is the oldest printing technology, it has become widespread relatively recently. It includes ease of study and use, availability on the market of additive technologies and an excellent ratio between price and quality of finished products.

FDM technology allows you to use different types of media for printing. Each material differs in its properties and printing parameters. These can be:

  • simple plastics: ABS, PLA;
  • engineering plastics: PetG, ePeek;
  • special materials: PVA, Hips, Flex.

Making a part on a 3D printer

Safety precautions

  • During the operation of the 3D printer, do not put your hands in the working area where printing is being done.
  • Protective goggles and gloves should be worn when handling photopolymer printers that use photopolymer resin.
  • Wear respiratory and eye protection when using printers that use powder media.

What we need

3D printer

3D printing plastic

Computer with

slicer installed0102

USB stick

Special adhesive for 3D printing


Making settings for printing

2. We position the model in such a way as to minimize the number of supports.

Set print options. Set the height of the layer. It should not exceed the diameter of the nozzle installed on the printer. The higher the layer height, the faster the print, but the surface quality of the model suffers.

4. Adjusting the filling percentage. They affect the occupancy rate of the model: the higher the percentage, the stronger the model. But at the same time, material consumption and printing time increase.

5. Perform support settings. The main ones are the gaps between the model and the support body during printing. When setting supports, you must take into account the height of the layer.

6. Perform adhesion settings. They allow you to create "skirts" around the models, which increase the contact area of ​​​​the model with the table. The smaller the contact area, the wider the "skirt" should be.

7. After setting all parameters, press Slicing.

8. Save the job and send it to the printer.

Preparing the printer

1. Loading material into the printer.

2. In the program, go to the "Plastics" section, select the "Plastic Loading" item and set the type of plastic you want to load.

3. Calibrating the printer. To do this, go to the "Service" section, select the "Desk settings" item and follow the instructions on the screen.

4. The job can be run in one of the print speed profiles: Draft, Standard, or Quality. Each profile is labeled with an estimated print time. Select the required profile.

5. Apply the 3D printing adhesive to the napkin and spread it evenly on the table.

6. We start the job and wait for the part to be printed.

Finished product measurement and post-processing

1. Printing completed. Let the model cool down and remove it from the table.


Do not remove the finished model from the table immediately, as this can ruin the model itself or even damage the table

2. We are reviewing the finished product. We take the dimensions of the physical model and compare them with the dimensions of the three-dimensional model.

3. We evaluate the surfaces of the model. Very slight roughness is the norm for FDM printing. To achieve ideal surfaces, the model needs further post-processing.

In this lesson, we went through the entire path of a 3D printer operator and figured out the steps that go into it. And now consolidate your knowledge by completing a small task.

Interactive task

To reinforce your knowledge, take the test

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