The First Steps in Building the OpenRC F1 Car

by Jason King on January 23, 2016

OpenRC F1 First PartsAlthough this OpenRC F1 car build might be quite a challenge for me, I’m a big believer in ‘just in time learning’, rather than over analysing and learning about things and never actually taking action.

As a result, my approach to this build is to learn what I need to know, when I need to know it and basically just to get on with it and learn by my mistakes.

So, my first step was to download all of the files from Thingiverse. These not only consist of the all important .STL files, but some build instruction .PFD files, parts lists and cool images too.

I took a look at the parts and the diagrams explaining how they all fit together, just to have it clear in my head roughly what went where, which helps a lot when deciding on how to approach the build and in what order to make the parts.

Without too much deliberation I randomly decided to 3D print a front wheel. Well why not? …you gotta start somewhere right?

What Material to Use

Now then, stepping back a few months before I’d even heard about this F1 car project, I had heard about some new Floreon PLA Filament which is supposedly 4x as strong as normal PLA. I contacted Floreon about this and they were kind enough to send me a 1kg roll for free (almost). The reason I say ‘almost’ is that it was a 99% discount 🙂

Stepping back to the present day, I thought that this F1 car build might be a perfect opportunity to try out this filament as it’s designed to be made in PLA. Also, the Floreon filament I already had was black, which was the colour I’d decided to 3D print all of the functional/mechanical/chassis parts in.

The front wheel 3D printed pretty well at 0.2mm layer height, 220 degrees and with a raft to be sure it didn’t warp. Note that I wouldn’t normally use a raft for small parts, but I’d had a few issues with warping when using Floreon before.

Long story short… the wheel was a success so I made a few more parts for the front suspension and steering assembly using the same settings. Most of these parts printed really well and the one thing I like about Floreon is that it is stronger than normal PLA and it’s also less brittle. This makes it great for parts which are likely to take a battering at some point. Have you seen my driving?

An Issue With Warping

The parts printed in Floreon were great and looked like they’d do the job really well. However, the parts with larger contact areas with the build plate were still very prone to warping.

In an attempt to resolve the warping issue I did the following:

  • Removed my glass build plate covered in Aqua Net hairspray
  • Replaced the build plate with one covered in blue painter tape
  • Used a raft for every single part from now on
  • Used drops of super glue on the corners of the rafts

New colorFabb FilamentTaking these steps largely eliminated warping, but I was still quite worried about 3D printing the two large, flat chassis parts, as this type of object is notorious for warping.

I decided that I shouldn’t use Floreon PLA for this, as it was too prone to warping and was a little too flexible for a chassis, which needed to be quite stiff.

It was at this point that I reverted to my trusty colorFabb PLA/PHA filament, which I’d almost ran out of, so I ordered six new spools of different colors, including black for the chassis parts.

The OpenRC F1 car can be built using about half a spool of plastic, but I guess I got a little carried away by ordering six spools. I do love the stuff and I needed it for other projects too.

The Next Steps

Having successfully 3D printed some of the parts I was already looking ahead to putting these parts together. As well as the 3D printed parts, there are also some non-printable parts that needed sourcing. These include the following…

  • Nuts
  • Bolts
  • Screws
  • Bearings
  • Motor
  • Battery
  • Speed controller
  • Servo
  • Receiver
  • Transmitter

These are the parts that spring to mind and this list isn’t intended to be complete. However I was a little concerned about how long some of these parts would take to source so I went in search of the nuts, bolts, screws and bearings immediately.

OpenRC F1 Front AssemblyI ordered the bearing set from Fast Eddie as Daniel Noree suggested, but as I live in the UK the delivery charge from the US cost more than the bearings themselves.

These bearings are easy to find in the UK so next time I’d just buy them here I think. Lesson learned there.

I ordered the nuts, bolts and screws from BoltBase on eBay as they had a massive selection. These have already arrived (after 2 days) so I assume they’re based in the UK. I worked out what I needed to buy but it was a little tricky, as I think the parts list is wrong in places. Maybe I misread it but I’ll speak to Daniel about this as it’s more likely my inability to read the parts list properly.

When I’ve 3D printed some more parts I’ll start to put them together, but for now I have a few more late nights of 3D printing to make all of these parts, including the larger body parts which I think will take 3 to 4 hours for some of them at 0.2mm layer height.

I also need to decide on the color(s) for the bodywork. I’m thinking sky blue and white but I’ll 3D print a few parts and see how they look. I can always change my mind and print more, especially when all my new colorFabb filament arrives.

At this point I’m really excited to have started this project and I intend to report back to you how I get on throughout the whole process. The best place to follow my progress is still my 3D Printing Facebook Group, or right here on my Dedicated OpenRC F1 Car Web Page.

Please Like and Share this article and help spread the word about the exciting world of 3D printing. Thanks for reading and thanks for taking an interest in this project.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Matt January 26, 2016 at 2:13 am

Have you bought the battery, motor, servo, esc?

Which did you buy?


Jason King January 26, 2016 at 6:55 am

Not yet but I’ll report back when I do. I’m 3D printing and building the rest first.


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