3D Printing: AC Face Plate & Console Vent Covers

Discussion in 'E9 Projects and Restorations' started by Markos, Jun 17, 2016.

  1. Markos

    Markos Well-Known Procrastinator Staff Member Site Donor $$

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    Before selling my AC Setup, I decided to send the E9 face plate out to a SolidWorks modeler to recreate. The part is in the mail and I should have a draft design by the end of next week.

    I called for three designs. One with the standard radio opening, one that is blank, and one that has three gauge holes. The blank one may have lines in the back to facilitate the cut out of the radio on the future. I haven't checked if gauges will fit the space yet. My CSI was a rats nest of stereo wires in that area.

    I intend to print with a professional 3D printer, and sell them with a markup to
    cover the cost of the modeling. A BMW friend of mine runs a PolyJet printer, and has numerous printing contacts in the Seattle area. Technically they could be printed with powdered aluminum, perhaps for the concours crowd.

    Oh - I also sent the AC grills. I haven't paid for those yet, but I will likely have them modeled also. I would imagine that those are much easier to sell.

    Keep you posted!
     
  2. Markos

    Markos Well-Known Procrastinator Staff Member Site Donor $$

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    Many thanks to Rsporsche for using his digital calipers to validate some of my dimensions!
     
  3. Nicad

    Nicad Well-Known Member

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    That is great news. Wonderful that we can print up some obscure parts, rather than pay kinda silly prices for rare stuff.
     
  4. Ohmess

    Ohmess I wanna DRIVE! Site Donor

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    Hi Markos - I was discussing last week having a modeler mock up a plate like the one DeQuincy created to install gauges in his car.

    Is the draft you will be receiving a digital file that can be modified? I would like to work up an electronic version of the four gauge plate.
     
  5. Markos

    Markos Well-Known Procrastinator Staff Member Site Donor $$

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    Yep it should be an STL file but the modeler will convert into any desired format. Keep in mind that DQ's gauge panel is for a non AC car. My BMW friend confirmed that he can produce a prototype with his PolyJet. It's a super nice printer!

    I've already completely disassembled my console so I may seek out assistance with fitment testing. Also, I'm pretty certain that I have a non/AC shifter housing in my CSI. It is removed also, bud didn't have the extra recess that the AC cars have.
     
  6. Ohmess

    Ohmess I wanna DRIVE! Site Donor

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    Yeah, I am concerned about whether there actually exists sufficient depth to do this in my car. DeQ's second design actually rests against the lower portion of the vents, moving the face plate outward maybe ten mm or so and giving more room. He also turned the electrical connectors on his gauges 90 degrees to make more room. I've actually opened up a couple of my VDO gauges, and there is a whole lot of air in the rear of those gauge housings. So, there is no need for them to be as deep as they are, but I'm not sure I want to cut them in half and figure out an alternative mounting approach.

    Then again...
     
  7. Markos

    Markos Well-Known Procrastinator Staff Member Site Donor $$

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    Come to think of it, if a radio can fit in that spot I don't see why VDO gauges couldn't. I'll do some testing once I print the panel.
     
  8. Gary Knox

    Gary Knox Well-Known Member

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    Markos,

    The squirrel cage fan intrudes into the upper area of the radio 'slot'. There is JUST room for a DIN sized radio, and the rear of it has to fit below the fan cage. As you get larger in size the gauges might be a very tight fit back there.
     
  9. Ohmess

    Ohmess I wanna DRIVE! Site Donor

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    Yeah Gary - you nailed it. I could install the gauges low, in place of the radio; there is plenty of room there. I want them higher up, in front of the squirrel cage. And I want them four across.

    I have only seen this done once; in DeQuincy's car. And he does not have stock BMW a/c, so I'm not entirely sure what I want to do is possible. We shall see.

    I need to get my air conditioning working before the PVGP; then we can worry about such luxuries as gauge panels.
     
  10. Gary Knox

    Gary Knox Well-Known Member

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    Chris,

    My friend and I just finished installing the new Sanden compressor, new parallel condenser and new receiver drier today, along with all new hoses and mostly new fittings. We've got to leak test it later this week, then get a huge vacuum and charge it with R-12. Then - I could stay cool in driving - IF I just had my front seats back from the upholsterer and installed!!

    Hope you get your AC done before PVGP. I'd hoped to go again this year, but my sidekick from Lansing MI has a DE at Mosport track that weekend. We're going to try to get back next year.

    Cheers,
     
  11. Markos

    Markos Well-Known Procrastinator Staff Member Site Donor $$

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    Ahh I got it now. Sounds good. Well my model will have provisions to add three gauges to the radio area. On could certainly try to put gauges in front of the squirrel cages, but I'm not at all sure about room. It's definitely tight in that area. My parts arrived today, so I should have the first draft later this week. I'll post a picture of the rendered part.


    I'm thinking about making the back side of the AC side vent covers with thicker material - where the slats are. This should help prevent typical breakage in the future. If anyone wants to look to see how much room there is to work with, that would be helpful. I think double the thickness would be helpful. They could be knife-edged to help with air flow.
     
  12. Markos

    Markos Well-Known Procrastinator Staff Member Site Donor $$

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    Update:

    I get the first draft back today! I'll get the stl file and an eDrawing. I will post some screenshots of the eDrawing this afternoon!

    I decided to move forward with the AC vents. The first draft will have a smooth finish. I asked to make the vent fins triangular on the back side for added strength. The first draft will have smooth texture. He believes that he can use another program to add the leather texture to the file. Most 3D printers won't have a resolution high enough to print the texture though. The polyjet mockup printer that I'm using is capable of detail down to .2mm, so it is feasible.
     
  13. rsporsche

    rsporsche Well-Known Member Site Donor $$

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    looking forward to seeing it Mark. hoping it comes out better than expected.
     
  14. Markos

    Markos Well-Known Procrastinator Staff Member Site Donor $$

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    Apologies in advance for the low res photos. It looks amazing in the eDrawing Pro Iphone app, and exports cleanly. The Iphone app includes all of the dimensional info, which I prefer to leave off of the screenshot. The windows app leaves a bit to be desired.


    So far the parts look good on-screen. I will need to make the mounting holes a little smaller on the AC face plate. That requirement must not have translated well but I already clarified. Normally a metal clip wraps around the edges of the face plate, and the threaded screw threads into them. I plan on threading the screws directly into the plastic, and the holes will therefore need to be a smaller diameter.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Jun 22, 2016
  15. rsporsche

    rsporsche Well-Known Member Site Donor $$

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    looks very promising Mark
     
  16. aearch

    aearch Well-Known Member Site Donor

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    Ill be the first to buy an ac side plate unless someone has an extra now
     
  17. bluecoupe30!

    bluecoupe30! Active Member Site Donor $

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    a/c faceplate

    wow,
    this is SO needed. Good work Markos! Someone has to test fit though. I think many of us have tried, over the years, to reproduce a part, and "improve" it to some degree, but then it just did not fit well. But this item in particular has been so rare and elusive, your work will certainly help those who have no other way to fill that space in the console. Mike
     
  18. deQuincey

    deQuincey Well-Known Member

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    good work !
    lets see how it materializes !
    are you able to create the surface textures too ?
    thank you for doing this
     
  19. Markos

    Markos Well-Known Procrastinator Staff Member Site Donor $$

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    Thanks DQ, means a lot coming from you! It should materialize (physically) by next week. My BMW friend told me to fire the files over. The modeler believes that he can add surface texture, but warned that the resolution of the 3D printer plays a role. The printer that I'm using to start can display detail down to .2mm from what I read. I'm not sure if I'll be able to use that printer for production or not though, so I'll have to look at printing companies in town. There are a lot of caveats around the plastics used for printing. Some can't handle the heat of an auto interior, some can't handle direct UV light, some are brittle, etc. The AC face plate should be painted, so the UV light isn't an issue. This is all part of the 'materialization' process as you put it. Exciting stuff in my opinion!
     
  20. deQuincey

    deQuincey Well-Known Member

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    kind words Markos, thanks

    wow, that sounds good !

    final texture might be added later by means of paint, but i would advise to think on a sort of pre-texture coming from the 3D to allow paint sit down making the final texture (i.e. a flat plastic surface might not be the best starting point for painting, or you will need very skilled painting process) i am afraid that this might be a trial-error issue

    did i read from you previously that you were considering aluminium powder as the material for this one ?

    yes, plastic suitable for printing that stands 80-120 deg Celsius (interior car temps according to AUTO standards) will be a challenge

    AC grilles texture would be a complete different issue, i worked in the automotive industry in the nineties and i recall there were specialist firms that were in charge of providing textures into plastic injection molds, those patterns were commonplace in cars of past decades, now everything is tending to provide smooth touch a bit of foamy sense before you reach the structural plastic

    the texture of the AC grilles is very defined and prominent, good point is that they are down there and you will not be comparing with anything else in the cockpit

    i feel this might be one of the most revolutionary additions to our coupe community

    p.s. as it was mentioned before tell me if i can do anything to contribute with the "dQ gauges+radio console design" (i.e. dimensions,...)
     

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