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Making an Automotive Wind Splitter Start-to-Finish with 3D Engineering

By David Ramsey on November 5, 2021

In my last video, I added a wind splitter to the front bumper of my Toyota MR2 using 3D printed mounting brackets that I created in SOLIDWORKS using traditional solid-body techniques. It worked but it didn’t achieve the look that I was looking for. For this video, I want to bring it to the next level and build a new wind splitter, complete with mounting holes, using 3D scanning, SOLIDWORKS surfacing and 3D printing.

Now, I’m a machine design person at the core, so creating a model with SOLIDWORKS surfacing would be a new challenge for me, but I knew I could make a better wind splitter using surfacing techniques. So, I got my hands on the SOLIDWORKS surfacing manual and picked up some techniques that I found useful when I was building this model. Let’s look at the steps I took to build a new version of my wind splitter.

3D Scanning

Artec Scanner 3d-scan-front-of-carTo start, I need data. In this image, I’m using the Leo 3D scanner to scan the front of the car. As I’m capturing all the data points, the image on the screen displays a live view. This lets me visually confirm that I’m getting all the frames and angles that I need so that I can combine the images together in Artec Studio.

In the first version, you can see where I modeled the mounting brackets using traditional solid modeling techniques and mounted a plywood splitter to the brackets. It works but it’s not exactly an elegant design.

Surfacing with SOLIDWORKS

3D Scanning adding-sketch-planes

As I’m modeling this, I'm going to create new sketch planes. My goal is to create cleaner surfaces that I can use to trim the functional surface of the car back. I then want to box that in and build a solid from it. From there, I can extrude the rest of the lip. Next, I can trim those back enough so I can fill in a couple of surfaces and knit them all together. Once those are knit together, I can then come in and build out the rest of my solid model. You can now see that the part is starting to take shape.

Once I mirror this part, I now have a proper left and right side. I can now bring that into an assembly within SOLIDWORKS, so we can get a better idea of how this part will look when it’s complete.

3D Printing the Design

Stratasys F900 Large 3D PrintI used the Stratasys F900 printer to print this model because the part I wanted to print is large and the F900 has a large build volume measuring 36H x 36W x 24D. Plenty big for this part. The material that I used is ASA because it has the durability and the strength of ABS but has better resistance to UV light. It will stand up to the harsh UV light from the sun without fading, cracking or chipping and will hold up much better in the long run. Also to note is the part was oriented on the print tray in such a way that minimized the use of support material as much as possible.

The fit is perfect and looks more elegant than the previous version. I'm very happy with the results and the fact that they’re made of ABS means that I know they're going to hold up to the outdoor elements and last for a long time.

This wind splitter is a solid part and just another example of what SOLIDWORKS, 3D scanning, and 3D printing can do for you. This is a hefty piece of plastic, and I’m very happy with the results. I hope you learned something new or found inspiration in your own projects. To see more about SOLIDWORKS or 3D printing tips, be sure to subscribe to our video tech tip blogs!

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