July 28, 2015 | By Simon

When it comes to some of the most creative 3D printing applications that we’ve seen, it’s hard to argue that many of them in some way or another involve recreating icons of pop culture - whether through the use of cosplay or other props.  Among other pop culture items that has long held onto a cult status includes the KITT (Knight Industries Two Thousand) car from the popular 1980s Knight Rider TV series, which starred David Hasselhoff as Michael Knight.

While many attempts have been made towards recreating KITT, none have incorporated the use of 3D printing as much as a Frenchman recently did .  The car, which is a souped-up Pontiac Trans-Am at its core, is known primarily for being a superpowered, intelligent ‘smart’ muscle car that can drive 300 miles an hour, is bulletproof, fireproof, can talk, and helps Michael Knight fight crime as a part of the Knight Foundation's public justice organization.

The Frenchmen who recently built the KITT replica - Nicolas, Clement and Patrick - are no strangers to 3D printing, either.  In May of this year, the talented trio founded a 3D printing company in Paris called 3D Modular Systems. Early this month the team launched two low-cost, but high-volume 3D printers, the Scalar M and Scalar XL on Kickstarter.     

Starting with a Pontiac Firebird (the third after selling two other project cars) that belonged to Nicolas' cousin Sebastian, the project had already had nearly a decade of work put into it using traditional manufacturing processes to create the custom parts including plaster, steel sheets and fiberglass - many of which were made using recycled parts and handmade molds.   

With the goal of lowering the overall weight of the car, the trio turned Sebastian on to 3D printing and using TinkerCAD to design his own parts using both ABS and PLA filaments.  Less than two weeks after first learning how to use CAD, Sebastian was already printing his own custom parts on a 3D modular Systems 3D printer.  Today, Sebastian has since switched over to DesignSpark Mechanical.      

While many may be quick to note that PLA may not be the best material choice for a hot car, Sebastian appears to have found a method that works for creating usable parts.

Starting with prints that are created with 100% infill, acetone is applied to the parts to seal them, which is then followed by a paint primer before varnishing them.  So far, this method has helped the parts hold inside of the car with temperatures of more than 50°C on sunny days.  

In total, the KITT replica features dozens of 3D printed parts.  According to an email to 3Ders from Nicolas, Clement and Patrick, these include:  

  • Relay box support (PLA)
  • Cable ties under the car (PLA)
  • License plate gearing (PLA)
  • 90% of the license plate mechanism
  • Hood mechanism linear bearing supports
  • Hood mechanism stops
  • Gear knob (ABS)
  • Luminous indicator cover (PLA)
  • All the electronic facades of the dashboard (PLA)
  • Ceiling light button supports (PLA)
  • Rocker panel supports (PLA)
  • Front Scanner box (ABS)
  • Speedometer sensor enclosure (PLA)
  • Door handle caps (PLA)
  • Scissor mechanism to move outside rear side panels (PLA)
  • Side panel mechanism hinge (PLA)
  • Back license plate: sensors end stops (PLA)
  • Back door electric mechanism (motor support and gearing) (PLA)
  • Hubcaps
  • Clips to fix internal panels

Clearly, this custom car build shows just how capable 3D printing can be when used effectively to create a wide array of functional parts - but perhaps more importantly, it also shows just how quickly somebody can learn 3D modeling and 3D printing from scratch to create their own customized objects.




For those who might be in Southern France at the end of August, the car will be a part of a car show in "le Brusc".  In the case that you want your own replica of a KITT car, you can 3D print your own scaled model by heading over to Thingiverse!



Posted in 3D Printing Applications



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