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3D Printing Comes to Car Audio
Jun 10, 2015

3D printing is creating new options for car audio retailers who can now fashion their own speaker grilles, tweeter pods, adapter plates or dash kits.

Grilles can be pressed in much less time and at a lower cost. And when a new model year car arrives at the shop, for which no commercial dash kits are available, retailers can print their own kits, said Bryan Schmitt of Mobile Solutions, which held the first car audio fabrication class on 3D printing on May 8, with a second class to follow this weekend, June 6-8, in Tempe, AZ.

3d printing
3D printed speaker boxes at Mobile Solutions training

3D printers are now available at a starting price of $1,000.

“It may be the most exciting thing to happen to the aftermarket car electronics installation trade in the past 20 years,” said Schmitt. “It allows rapid prototyping of new tooling, more OEM-like production of automotive shapes and better integration for complex, vehicle-specific applications.”

In the first class on 3D printing, students created “the world’s first” 3D printed press grille mold. The grilles printed out overnight, (it takes 6 to 8 hours) and were ready the next morning. It saves installers money in labor that would be spent on sanding and shaping by hand.

During the class, Schmitt said, “Over 20 custom grills were molded on the 3D tooling without any wear and tear issues.”

Cutting edge retailers such as Mark Klettee of Car Audio Fabrication (who helped teach the class) are starting to use 3D printers at their shops on a weekly basis, said Schmitt. It requires an investment in learning to use the software for the printers, and Mobile Solutions may offer the software training in the future.

Schmitt describes a 3D printer as similar to a hot glue gun on a CNC bed. It melts plastic and “puts it where you want in layers. Each layer is probably 64th of an inch.”

 

3D printing class, Mobile Solutions

Schmitt describes a 3D printer as similar to a hot glue gun on a CNC bed. It melts plastic and “puts it where you want in layers. Each layer is probably 64th of an inch.”

It can take a good 3 months to learn how to use a 3D printer and the software for the shop. But once you do, a pair of tweeter pods that might take 8 to 12 hours to make, can now take 20 minutes of actual labor in setting up the software. From there you just hit print and go do something else.

During the initial class Rommel Medina, an independent contractor also helped the students operate the 3D printer.

Took my car in to have a headrest video system installed. Mike and his team did a great job. Quick, very reasonable price. Grandchildren love it! Mike and the guys have also done a couple of other smaller jobs on my car. Always a great experience!

Posted By: Will Trafton

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