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New Automotive Mounting Brackets in Less Than a Day

The goal for this project was to create a set of 3D printed mounting brackets that I wanted to bolt to the factory mounting locations at the front valance of my Toyota MR2. The original lower front spoiler on the car was cracked and in very poor shape. To replace this part would be costly and time-consuming, and because of that, I figured why not try and create my own?

Steps to create the 3D printed mounting bracket

Let’s take a look at the steps I took to create a prototype wind spitter using 3D scanning, SOLIDWORKS and 3D printing.

Broken wind scoop

Broken wind scoop

The first step was to scan the area of the car that I wanted to import into SOLIDWORKS. I didn’t need a 3D scan of the whole car, just the area that I wanted to work with. I used the Artec Leo to handle the 3D scan job. With 3D scanning technology, I was able to simply point and shoot the 3D scanner at the corner of the car and perfectly capture the complex geometry and data points including the locations of the factory mounting holes.

The next step was to import the 3D scan data into SOLIDWORKS so I can create the mounting brackets. I created the required reference planes and began the process of designing the mounting brackets. Using the Up To Surface End condition, I was then able to extrude my profiles to meet up with the captured contour to the car’s geometry with exact precision.

After completing the design process of the new mounting brackets in SOLIDWORKS, it was time to transfer the part file into the GrabCAD Print slicing software and prepare the model for 3D printing. I adjusted the settings to minimize the amount of support material used for this build. I also set the layer thickness to .013” so that I could minimize the number of total slices. With the setup complete, I’m now ready to start the print job. Based on my selections, I estimated the print time to be under 6.5 hours meaning that I was able to have the parts in hand the same day that I designed them.

GrabCAD Slice Height

GrabCAD Slice Height

With the parts printed, the final step was to test fit the mounting brackets to the car. The parts fit just as anticipated; clean and perfectly aligned to the existing mounting holes. With the brackets now bolted onto the car, I was able to transfer the bolt locations to a cardboard template I used to create the lower splitter.

Mounting blocks

Mounting blocks

After transferring my template to a 1/2″ piece of plywood (Yes, I said plywood), I cut the wood into the shape of a wind splitter. Since this is a prototype wind splitter, plywood was used for its low cost, moderate strength, modification potential, and ease of cutting.

Splitter attached

Splitter attached

After completion and a coat of paint, I had a prototype wind splitter to bolt onto the car and achieved my goal by using 3D scanning, SOLIDWORKS and 3D printing. Now my Toyota MR2 has a new front facia and a look all its own!