Often I receive emails from people interested in having a replacement part made for their car either because the part has been discontinued or because they think 3d printing it would be cheaper than buying from the dealership, however it’s important to take the following into consideration.

  1. In order to 3D print any part, a properly drawn CAD file is required (this often costs money to hire a mechanical engineer or designer). A part can’t be built direct from a photo.
  2. 3d printed parts can vary in price depending on the size and quantities (and have limitations)
  3. Materials and finishes are also a factor, and may not be what you are looking for.
  4. Automotive manufacturers have spent millions of dollars to make that one part they are selling.

For example, a part that may cost $200 at the dealership could cost you significantly more doing it on your own. Keep in mind that their $200 price tag includes such things as R&D time, CAD time, testing, safety and standards considerations (plus liability insurance should the part fail), mold and manufacturing costs, distribution and more. So, even though you may think this part isn’t worth $200, it very likely is and then some!

If your part has been discontinued and you cannot get your CAD part drawn for free, you may want to start by searching for after market parts or salvaged parts before heading down this road.