Mar. 12, 2015 | By Simon

When it comes to customization and fabricating completely original designs from scratch, it’s hard to not consider the impact that hot rods have had over the past few decades - particularly with developing complete one-off designs. The cars, which have a deep subculture in multiple countries, are often considered to be an extension of the owner’s personality and can come in any array of custom options starting with details as small as the color all the way through to the custom form and final ‘balance’ of the automobile as a whole. It should come with little surprise then, that 3D scanning and 3D printing technologies have only helped speed up various processes for those involved with creating hot rods.

Among those who have used 3D scanning and 3D printing technologies to create one-of-a-kind features for their hot rod is the talented entertainer Jeff Dunham.

The successful comedian - whose act is centered around being a highly-skilled ventriloquist - wanted to customize his Defibrillator Hot Rod (which he features in his new video Controlled Chaos) with a feature that was a nod towards his ventriloquist roots; an enlarged head his character Achmed that ‘talked’ when the car’s intake was used.

In order to fabricate and execute the final design effectively, the piece needed to be replicated perfectly from the original Achmed head design while also working as a functional moving part for the vehicle’s air intake.    

While traditional hot rod (and other automotive customization) processes typically involve sculpting wood, foam, clay or other mold template materials, Jeff omitted this process altogether with the use of a 3D scanner, 3D modeling software and a Stratasys 3D printer.  

Using a simple bobble head toy to gather scan data of Achmed’s facial features and head structure, Dunham then scaled the scan up nearly 10x of the original bobble head size before printing it on a Stratasys Dimension 3D printer.  

While Stratasys’ Dimension is certainly capable of printing larger structures than most desktop 3D printers, the final Achmed file was still too large to be printed in a single print on the machine.  To work around this constraint, Dunham broke apart the 3D file into six separate sections that could be easily assembled.  

Once each of the six 3D prints had been completed, Jeff attached them together to create a fully-assembled large scale version of his original Achmed bobblehead toy.  Finally, he finished the model with some protectant and custom paint to match the rest of the car.

The process for creating the air intake skull feature of the Achmedmobile is a perfect example of an end-to-end workflow when 3D scanning, 3D modeling and 3D printing are used.  

If you attend hot rod shows, be sure to keep an eye out for the Achmedmobile!

Posted in 3D Printing Applications


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