Sep 18, 2015 | By Benedict

After some unsuccessful earlier attempts, an accomplished builder of LEGO R/C cars named Sariel has built a Nissan Skyline GT-R model equipped with bespoke wheels made with 3D printing technology. The 3D-printed wheels have been used as a more drift-friendly alternative to the grippier tires produced by LEGO.

Motorsport enthusiasts have been fascinated by the art of drifting ever since Kunimitsu Takahashi introduced the technique to Grand Prix motorcycle racing in the 1970s. Keiichi Tsuchiya, another Japanese motorist, perfected the race car drift in the 1980s, and the rest is history. Drifting, for those unfamiliar with the term, is a driving technique where the driver oversteers, which causes a controlled loss of traction in the rear (or all) tires, enabling the car to navigate a corner at high speed.

Much to the delight of those who prefer their motorsport on a smaller scale, drifting is an equally popular phenomenon in the world of R/C cars. After a failed attempt to build a drifting Mustang Gymkhana model, Sariel began work on a smaller model which would reduce the car’s initially wide turning circle and improve on the Mustang in every possible way. The Mustang, in his own words, ‘was rather unwieldy and had a turning radius worthy of a school bus, making it hardly capable of anything remotely resembling proper drifting.’

Determined to overcome this problem, Sariel saw that he had to make the model smaller if he was to preserve the RC unit + 2 x RC motor combination. The builder found some ‘unusual solutions’ to this problem, such as positioning the propulsion motors behind the rear axle to shorten the model’s wheelbase. This move necessitated a car with a large trunk, and the Nissan Skyline GT-R fifth generation (R34) turned out to be that car. ‘It was a car I have come to know and love through the Need For Speed series, and it had just the right proportions’, Sariel explained.

To enhance the model’s drifting capabilities, Sariel decided to use an alternative to LEGO’s rubber tires, which provide a great deal of traction and thus reduce potential drift. To find the perfect alternative, Sariel teamed up with maker Seven Studs, a designer & 3D modeler passionate about making custom wheels & parts that fit perfectly with your LEGO Technic creations. The 3D printed wheels, made by Seven Studs and used by Sariel on his Nissan model, each consist of a single piece of nylon plastic. Rather than consisting of two parts like a regular wheel, the 3D printed creations are both wheel and tire in one piece. The wheels have a diameter of 49.5mm and a thickness of 2cm, undoubtedly smaller than those used by Keiichi Tsuchiya and the like, but working to similar effect.

Images from

Sariel was impressed with the 3D printed wheels, saying that they performed ‘above [his] expectations, ensuring speed and acceleration equal to LEGO wheels while driving straight, and resulting in immediate drift when making a turn.’ Much like real racing tires, the wheels made on a 3D printer became heavily worn after around 30 minutes use, so they are perhaps not an ideal long-term option.

Although these 3D-printed wheels appear to be working incredibly well, Sariel’s Nissan is not quite yet the perfect drifting R/C car. The perceptible lack of control, seen in the video below, results from the Nissan’s lack of a limited slip differential (LSD). Sariel’s own LEGO LSD was unfortunately too large for this compact model. We greatly look forward to seeing more of Sariel and Seven Studs’ work in the future.

The Nissan model feature rear wheel drive, steering, suspension, lights and custom stickers. Its technical specifications are as follows:

  • Completion date: 11/09/2015
  • Power: electric (RC unit)
  • Dimensions: length 45 LEGO studs / width 18 studs / height 14 studs
  • Weight: 1.155 kg
  • Suspension: front – independent / rear – solid axle
  • Propulsion: 2 x RC motor directly from faster output
  • Motors: 2 x RC motor



Posted in 3D Printing Applications



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Andreas wrote at 9/21/2015 4:46:25 PM:

Drifting is, especially at RC scales, not only depending on the tire alone, but at the same time the surface you are driving on. A floor with bathroom-tiles is entirely different to a hardwood floor, linoleum in the gym hall, an asphalt road, or a concrete floor in your garage (with, or without paint). There are a lot of options to the ground you could want to drive and drift on with rc-cars. Basically you should make a test with different thermoplastics (ABS, PLA, Nylon,...) on all of these floors and then come up with a chart that gives information about basic traction, "driftability" and endurance for different plastic/floor combos.

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