When 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 Kit, iPhone 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.
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