By Mike Garrison
Whether it's wheel nuts, wings, tools, tracks, trinkets and/or anything in between, the LiveRC staff gives their testimonial and review of each every Thursday morning!
3D printing has opened a whole new door of opportunities in the R/C car world for design engineering and production on all levels – ranging from home made knick knacks to professionally engineered products. While 3D printers don’t require a second mortgage on the house to purchase one, unlike many other manufacturing machines, one of the most convenient, easy to use, user-friendly, and seamless ways to create and sell 3D printed products is through Shapeways.com – all without ever having to purchase or even touch a 3D printer at all.
Founded in 2007, Shapeways has become a “household name” for 3D printing services in the R/C industry with major brands such as JConcepts, 3DRC, Vision, and many others using the Shapeways site and services to sell 3D printed products. The greatest part of Shapeways is whether you are college graduate with a degree in engineering, or junior high kid with laptop and an idea, Shapeways allows anyone and everyone to create and sell virtually any 3D printed idea they can dream up. They also offer a list of software links and downloads, some free and some paid, that are designed for varying skill levels to help you get started designing. Once designed, you can choose a variety of 3D printed materials and colors to print your product.
For bigger companies who normally only manufacture by the masses, Shapeways allows them to offer parts and accessories that may be specific to one car or genre that normally wouldn’t ever be offered for fear it isn’t worth the expense or risk of mass producing. Instead 3D printing they can be created as they are ordered, and in quantities ranging from 1 to 1,000,000.
This edition of Thursday Testimonials is “Part 1”, in collaboration with Shapeways, is dedicated to just a few of the hundreds upon hundreds of 3D printed R/C parts and accessories available through Shapeways.com. The friendly folks at Shapeways allowed me to browse the Shapeways market and find a list of a few items I’d like to try for review, and the next thing I know they printed, packaged, and shipped them to my door.
JConcepts Wire Routing Sleeves (available in 2-wire and 3-wire versions)
Part #2648 (3-wire), #2649 (2-wire)
On the outside a good-looking R/C car is often defined by the paint job on the body. On the inside, for me it’s all about how neat and tidy the wiring is. While I am no expert at wiring, and my cars are far from the cleanest wiring setups I’ve seen, I still take extra time to make sure it doesn’t look like a mis-matched bowl of spaghetti under the body. One of the quickest tricks to cleaning up the look of your wiring is bundling wires together. For years I have used miniature zip-ties or heat shrink to bundle wires neatly. After opening their Shapeways store, JConcepts developed their 2-wire and 3-wire sleeves to replace zip-ties and heat shrink.
Made up of Shapeways “Black Strong and Flexible” material, each sleeve is black nylon plastic with a matte finish and slight grainy feel. The 3-wire sleeve is designed for the ESC to motor wires, while the 2-wire sleeve is designed for your ESC to battery wires. While recommended for 13-gauge wire or smaller, I found that these also fit nicely using Dean’s 12-gauge wire. Depending on how much looks are worth to you, $12 (one of each sleeve) to neatly wire one car will buy a lot of zip-ties and heat shrink. On the flip side, they work fantastic, they look way better than zip-ties and heat shrink ever will, and they are super trick.
- Holds wires very neatly side by side and firmly in place.
- Fits wires 12-gauge and smaller.
- Strong and stealthy black appearance.
- Looks better than zip-ties and heat shrink.
- While the appearance and functionality is considerably better, you can purchase 200 4” zip-ties for the price of two wire sleeves.
Beacon Rating: 4 of 5
Vision Racing TLR 22-4 2.0 Wire Holder
Continuing on with the theme of clean wiring, we found the Vision Racing TLR 22-4 2.0 Wire Holder in the Shapeways market place. If you own a TLR 22-4 1.0 or 2.0 buggy, you probably already know that keeping your motor wires clear of the steering turnbuckle that runs from the servo arm to the bellcrank arm can be tricky sometimes. Prior to finding this part, using a lighter, black spray paint, and an old lid to a plastic container, I created a “wire holder” of my own. The process burnt my fingers, worked so-so, and looked great from 15 feet away. Just the fact a specific wire holder for this was created made me happy, without ever even seeing the product in person.
Like the JC wire sleeves above, the Vision Racing 22-4 wire holder is made up of Shapeways “Black Strong and Flexible” black nylon plastic with a matte finish and slightly grainy feel. The wire holder is held in place by removing the front two servo mount screws, setting the wire holder into place, and tightening it down with the front of the servo. The holder itself is not a solid loop, therefore your wires can be routed through the holder without having to feed them through prior to soldering. Because it is not a solid loop, the holder part is more flexible than I expected, however, it still works good. Once again using Dean’s 12-gauge wire, the wires stayed in place on the track, they stayed out of the servo horn and steering arm, and it looks far better than any homemade melted plastic creation I could come up with – not to mention my fingers are burn and blister free with this one. I consider this a highly recommended add-on for any TLR 22-4 or 22-4 2.0 owner.
- Neatly holds ESC to motor wires together and away from the servo horn and steering arm.
- Wires can be routed through the holder before or after soldering them to your ESC and motor.
- Fits directly in place with no additional modifications or screws needed.
- Fits 12-gauge and smaller wire.
- Stealthy black appearance.
- I didn’t find this part until after torching my hands trying to make one of my own.
Beacon Rating: 5 of 5
Stay tuned for Part 2 of the Shapeways Edition of Thursday Testimonals featuring the remaining items on the LiveRC Shapeways Product Test List HERE!