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Man 3D printing full-sized Aston Martin

We’ve seen some clever 3D printed things, but so far they’ve all been small items – and some of them smaller than small, such as the microscopic 3D printed race car.

But a New Zealand 3D fan is thinking big. Car-sized big, and a 1961 Series II Aston Martin DB4 to boot. Auckland-based computer programmer Ivan Sentch is spinning up a replica DB4 piece-by-piece on a 3D printer that costs around $500. His blog, Replica DB4 Project chronicles the process – and the problems and pitfalls he’s faced – since starting the build late in 2012.

Sentch says he’s completed about 72 per cent of the body printing, which will then be used to create a fibreglass mold, and build the final body onto a custom-built spaceframe with power coming from Nissan Skyline GTS innards currently being used in his Ferrari 250 GTO replica. The Ferrari, by the way, will get a BMW V12 engine as consolation.

Sentch says his decision to do the Aston Martin was prompted by family needs. “It was partly because I need four seats, and the 250 GTO kit car I've got hardly gets used as it's only a two-seater and I can't take the kids in it,” he says. “But also because an old Aston Martin is very very cool and a DB4 over a DB5 or a DB4 Zagato because I just like the look of the DB4 more -- I'm going for the no bumper GT lightweight look, though.

He says the wheel track of the Skyline made it the ideal donor car for the Aston Martin DB4 project. “It had the right wheel track to fit in the body -- wheelbase doesn't matter as you can get a custom propeller shaft -- it's a six-cylinder like the DB4, and the Skylines are very cheap.

The printing has so far gone smoothly for him, but the project hasn’t been without hurdles – the biggest being the glass. “Sourcing the glass has been difficult,” he says. “There's plenty of ways to make the body, and making a spaceframe chassis doesn't represent too much of a challenge, but it falls over if you can't get the glass.

“I finally found a place online that can supply it relatively cheaply and I've yet to contact Pilkingtons classic car division in the UK who have the moulds for the DB4, and who probably supply the other places selling the glass.”

Sentch says the Aston Martin won’t be his only project. “I have many I want to do… if I do another one of these (from scratch) type builds I would think about a 300SLR, Ferrari 250 GTO SWB or one of the DB4 Zagato Sanction 3 recreations. The Sanction 1 and 2 Zagatos were what Aston Martin re-made a few years ago with some spare DB4 chassis they had lying around, then someone made a Sanction 3. It’s not officially an Aston Martin but it looks really good.”

Are we seeing the start of being able to DIY our own cars at home? An Aston Martin DB4 is an ambitious project, but Sentch is showing it’s achievable. Which leaves wondering how hard it would be to do a 1955 Mercedes 300SL Gullwing.

Somebody call the stationery suppliers: we urgently need to upgrade the office printer...