3D Printed Wheels and NinjaFlex Tyres on 4WD RC Car

by Jason King on March 3, 2015

3D Printed Wheels and NinjaFlex TyresWhen I was younger I used to race 1/10 scale electric Radio Controlled Buggies, both on and off road.

I loved it so much that about a year ago I decide to save up for a new one so I could start racing them again.

After managing to save what is equivalent to about $1200 I was ready to go out and buy all the gear, but things didn’t go to plan and I ended up spending the money on redecorating the bedroom instead (long story). Not to be defeated I decided to spend around 1/3 of that amount on this cool little Kyosho Mini-Z 4DW Buggy instead.

It’s a great little car and as you’ll see from the video below it certainly shifts too.

However, after using it outside on tarmac for about a year I managed to completely destroy the original tyres.

As I’d glued the tyres to the wheels I really needed new wheels too so I put off buying them. I’m not sure what a set of wheels and tyres costs but whatever it is, I knew I could do it cheaper myself.

So I set myself the challenge of designing (using Tinkercad) new wheels and tyres. The wheels would be 3D printed using colorFabb florescent yellow PLA plastic and the tyres would be 3D printed using black NinjaFlex.

I’ve already been using NinjaFlex for a number of different applications, for example unbreakable key rings, grippy feet for my Spool Holder KitiPhone Cases and custom made tyres for my recently 3D printed Spring Powered Car.

It was now time to make some real tyres, for my 4 wheel drive RC car. This would be a great test for NinjaFlex as when this car is outside in the open at full throttle it really rips up the tarmac.

As with any new design I went though a few prototype wheel and tyre designs until I managed to get the perfect dimensions and performance.

In this Recent Tweet I posted a picture of the first prototype wheel (the green one at the front) that fitted well, with the first prototype tyre too.

The only issue with this first tyre was that the edges were too sharp, which meant it dug in when cornering causing too much grip and lots of judder.

Rounding off the tyres as you can see in the picture at the top of this post and in the video worked much better.

For the first test of this full set of 3D printed PLA wheels and NinjaFlex tyres I took the car outside on the tarmac and hammered it for a full 30 minutes, expecting to cause some damage to the wheels or tyres.

To my surprise after the 30 minutes there was no damage at all and the car had handled excellently. Even though I used the same wheels and tyres at the front and rear (the originals are wider at the rear) it was really well balanced with little under/over steer.

I filmed this little video today to put on YouTube, but it had to be in quite a confined space indoors due to the rain outside. Good old UK weather strikes again…

You can see it in action though and how well it grips on carpet, but not so much that it rolls, which can happen sometimes, with mini spiked tyres for example.

What’s great about 3D printing your own tyres using NinjaFlex is that you can design them as solid objects and then change the infill density so you can achieve different levels of sponginess, all the way from hollow to 100% solid.

That leaves loads of room for further experimentation, with both tyre design and infill densities and patterns.

In all I’m really pleased with how the new wheels and tyres look and perform, so I’ll be saving myself money in the future by 3D printing more of these.

I might go for some bigger rims and really low profile tyres next time, so expect more pictures and videos soon.

Thanks for reading and feel free to Like, Share and Comment if you found this interesting.

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

roman May 16, 2015 at 9:08 am

can you post the STL files?

Reply

Jason King May 16, 2015 at 7:22 pm

Hi Roman,

Thanks for your comment. I guess I could have uploaded these files to Thingiverse, but what I’ve done for now is pop them on my website so you can download them:

http://3DPrintHQ.com/stl/Wheel.stl
http://3DPrintHQ.com/stl/Tyre.stl

These should work, but let me know if you have any problems. Incidentally what is quite a coincidence is that I’ve recently been designing a new off road tyre which is fully customizable. I’ve literally just written a blog post about it which I’ll publish tomorrow (Sunday). You should take a look at this as I’ve customized the tyre for the Mini-Z (with more pics and videos) and also created a 1/10 scale version for a hex drive off road buggy wheel.

Thanks again for your comment and check out this new post tomorrow when I publish it.

Best regards,
Jason

Reply

roman May 18, 2015 at 7:31 pm

thank you … this works great i printet a full wheelset!! awesome work !!! looking forward for your bigger rims :-))

Reply

Jason King May 19, 2015 at 5:53 pm

Ok that’s great, I hope you find them useful. If you’re 3D printing the tyres too in something like NinjaFlex then I have just uploaded the .stl for a much better spiked tyre which fits those rims:

http://3DPrintHQ.com/stl/Spiked-Tyre.stl

I’ve also published the blog post about all this which is at:

http://3DPrintHQ.com/bespoke-3d-printed-rc-car-tyres-designed-openscad

I hope that helps a little.

Thanks,
J.

Reply

roman May 20, 2015 at 9:17 pm

i printed one tyre with ‘mips’ but ist to hard and does not fit (sounds Logical because ist build for rubber). i will try to get ninjaflex here.

Reply

Jason King May 20, 2015 at 10:42 pm

Yes, the tyres are both designed to be slightly too small for the wheel diameter so that they stretch slightly and fit snugly. I have printed all mine in NinjaFlex but intend to try some in a sample of SemiFlex I have too. NinjaFlex can be tricky to print with for a start but if you have any problems I’m sure I can help.

Thanks,
J.

Reply

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