Our new RC Customization Series takes us inside a very cool Tamiya Hornet customization project, headed up by Shapeways’ Eindhoven Distribution Specialist Tijs Lochbaum and European Community Manager Ruud van den Muijzenberg. Tijs and Ruud show us how exciting (and surprisingly easy) it can be to use 3D printing to make your mark on RC racing.
Because of the global drone hype, I didn’t realize other remote-controlled vehicles were still a thing. But that was before I found out that my colleague Tijs Lochbaum, who works in our Eindhoven distribution center, is a national champion in RC car drifting!
Watch Tijs drifting with his own RC car:
Boy, was I wrong! Tijs proved to me that RC Cars are being used more than ever, in totally different ways than I expected, and that customizing them is the best way to enhance your performance in competitions. Accompanied by Tijs, I’ll deep-dive into customizing RC Cars and share the process with you via videos and blogs in our RC Customization Series. With us cruising on the first Lap of the series, we begin our journey at the beginning, showing you how we got started — and hopefully inspiring you to take on your own customization projects.
Of course, we need a car to begin with. RC cars have been around for decades, so Tijs recommended we start this project with a classic: the Tamiya Hornet. Watch the awesome 1980s commercial below:
After ordering the original car online, we received a box filled with components a few days later. I was expecting to get a fully operational car, so I was a bit surprised, but Tijs reassured me this is normal (yup, I’m really exploring new territory). The big advantage of getting a car in separate components is that it’s easier to replace some of the mass-manufactured items with new custom parts, while still keeping the original essence.
The box the Tamiya Hornet arrives in. It has an appropriately vintage look.
Tijs then built the car overnight, as you can read in detail in his forum thread, to explain that there’s a lot of work involved in making the original car.
We now have our own Tamiya Hornet assembled in its original state, even with all stickers in place. Considering that the design itself is over 30 year old, calling it a classic buggy is an understatement. But then comes the question: you can’t go wrong with a big refresh after so many years, right?
Tijs brought the AMPro Engineering store on Shapeways to my attention as one of the go-to places for new, fresh designs of Tamiya Hornet parts (and for many other RC cars too). We ordered a bunch of AMPro products that we 3D printed in our White Strong & Flexible material at our factory in Eindhoven, as you can see in the overview below. From here, our customization journey begins!
The designs offered by AMPro Engineering are perfect for the adjustments we have in mind, but other brilliant engineers such as James Knight from Knight Customs (read his Designer Spotlight here) offer a great digital inventory of RC car (and other RC vehicle) parts on Shapeways.
So, now we have a car, and we have a lot of 3D printed components. The next thing we need to do is prepare the printed components for assembly — but we’ll look into that in the next Lap of the RC Customization Series. Don’t forget to shoot us questions by commenting below or on our social media channels. We’ll be adding more Laps to the series soon, and we’ll make sure to take your input into account.