3D Printed Car Derby in Chicago at the IDSA International Design Conference

by Zach Kaplan
September 6, 2013
The Industrial Design Society of America (IDSA) is a non-profit association of professional designers.  Each year their big event is their annual conference.  At the 2013 event Inventables teamed up with Paul Hatch the conference chair, Computer Aided Technologies, Stratasys, Models Plus, and The 3D Printer Experience to put on a 3D printed pine wood derby contest called Launch Day.  (Full video)

Models Plus built a 6' track that was modeled after a Ski Jump.  The purpose of the contest was to give Industrial Designers the chance to really flex their design muscles with 3D printing technology.  In addition since this years design conference theme was "Breaking the Rules" we opened up the entries to designers from all over the world. This meant you didn't need to be in the IDSA and you didn't need to be attending the conference.  We thought this was an interesting twist because the combination of low cost digital manufacturing tools and crowd funding sites like Kickstarter and Indie Gogo it is really changing who can be a designer and manufacture a product.

The actual track looked like this:
In order to challenge the designers Inventables offered up three 3D printers as prizes to the best car in each of the following 3 categories:
1. Best flight (farthest distance traveled)
2. Best crash
3. Best looks
Each of these three champions won an Up Mini 3D printer pictured below:
The seven runners-up will receive a $100 gift card to use on Inventables.com.  
In addition to the 3D printed material each team was allowed to use two sets of pinewood derby wheels and one ball bearing.  The entrants could choose between two 3D printers:  Connex 350 Polyjet, with Acrylic photopolymer and resolution of 0.025" and a minimum wall thickness of 0.050". or Fortus 400 FDM, with ABS and a resolution of 0.040" and a minimum wall thickness of 0.065".  And the entrants could choose colors, but the part has to be molded as one piece (and therefore one color). 
The top 10 cars that were printed and raced on Launch Day are featured in a gallery here.  You can click each car to download the file, ask questions to the designers, and in some cases learn more about their design process.  In addition to the unofficial sponsors Priority Designs and Kaleidoscope printed their own cars.  This was a HUGE help because the prints were so big we almost didn't have enough time to print everything.  We really appreciate that the design firms had an industrial grade 3D printer on premises and were so willing to help.
The race was captured by 6 cameras strategically mounted around the track.  We even had one camera at 

Here are some photos of the winners:

Designed by Priority Designs in Gahanna, Ohio this car was actually made as a barrel.  Instead of using the wheels it used the straps on the barrel to ride the rails of the track.  The concept was that when the barrel hit the ground the structure would shatter freeing the princes from the cage.  The race vehicle was printed as one part.  However the 3D Printer Experience broke the STL file down into it's component pieces and printed a color one on their MakerBot Replicator 2.  They then assembled the pieces with super glue and painted the details on Mario and the princess.  This car won both Best Looks and Best Crash!

Here's what it looked like assembled
And from the side.
The car that crashed was actually printed three times!  Once by Priority Designs and then again by Stratasys.  Due to the size of the print it took 48 hours to complete and then 24 hours to soak in a bath to remove the support material.
Here's what was left after the best crash!

Designed by Reut Kovetz of Fahrenheit Design in Austin, Texas the Ballona car was designed to fail.  The concept was that the car would speed down the track and when it hit the ground break into a bunch of little pieces.  The secret sauce of this car was that each of the pieces where spherical so when it broke apart the balls kept rolling.  It worked successfully and this car won best flight as it traveled the farthest.

The Ballona RedneringThe actual car
On the way to it's crash!



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