PrintSolid

Established by a life-long classic car enthusiast to serve the classic car community...

The story of PrintSolid and founder James Russell-Grant

For as long as I care to remember I have been a classic car enthusiast,  my first car was a 1981 DeLorean which I bought at just 19 years old, partly with money borrowed from my sisters student loan, 20 years on I still have the DeLorean (and have paid back the loan). Since then a number of other classics have passed through my hands, from Triumphs to Mercedes and beyond, I've always enjoyed restoring, maintaining and driving classic cars and the social scene that comes with classic car ownership.

One issue that dogs all restorers, myself included, is the availability of good quality, replacement parts to either enhance or simply maintain classic vehicles, often something as simple as a plastic clip or bracket which is no longer available can bring a restoration project to a halt.

At PrintSolid we can reproduce any number of clips brackets trim parts and beyond, to a high quality, quickly and at a low price, parts which would simply not be feasible to have injection moulded are now within reach thanks to the advances in 3D printing technology.

Today at PrintSolid we print ready to use products in ABS and PETG, materials that are strong, durable, UV stable and can be sanded, painted, filled and easily wrapped or upholstered to give a finish which can look 100% original. We generally prototype in PLA this is also a good material for the production of patterns for the metal casting processes.

In essence our aim is to work directly with the classic car community to re-design, re-engineer and re-manufacture low volume parts for classic car vehicles.

James Russell-Grant
PrintSolid

3D Printing, the basics

What is 3D Printing?
3D Printing is a technique used to create a solid model from a stream of molten material, typically a plastic polymer of some sort, at Print Solid we use Fused Deposition Modelling or 'FDM' as it is know.

How Does it Work?
Our FDM printers work by extruding a thin layer of molten material through a very small nozzle and onto a build plate, the model is built up in layers as the print head raises upwards and passes over the same area multiple times.  

How Long Does it Take?
After the design work is done a small print may take just 30 minutes larger prints 24-hours or more, so this process isn't ideally suited to mass production, however it does become very cost effective for small production runs.  For mass production injection moulding is far quicker, but only once a machine is set up and running (which could take several weeks, and cost many thousands of pounds) but at Print Solid we can often go from a sketch on a piece of paper to a physical product within 48-hours.

Are 3D Printed Parts Strong?
Yes 3D Printed items can be incredibly strong and durable if designed and printed in the correct way, using the correct materials and equipment. This is where our extensive experience of 3D printing comes in handy, as we can assess the intended final use of a component and then ensure that the printers create the piece in the right way. A cosmetic part which is going to be trimmed in leather for example, may not need to have great strength so you may sacrifice strength for a lighter, quicker print, where as a lever which is going to form part of a door latch mechanism will need to be much stronger and so will be printed in a more solidly.

The Limitations of 3D Printing
The 3D printing process does have its limitations, speed of print and build volume being the most important factors, however these can both be negated through clever design and print setup. At Print Solid our printers have a large build volume and as we run multiple printers simultaneously we are often able to turn around relatively large projects very quickly.

Is My Item Suitable for 3D Printing?
The simple answer is 'we don't know' but we would be very pleased to help you find out, simply email a photo, sketch or description of what you are looking to produce and we will let you know if it can be done. Most parts can be produced using 3D printing, the skill is in knowing how to design and setup the printer to get the best results.