You Don’t Need Tons of Money To Own a Lamborghini Aventador - Just Get a 3D Printer
You also need to know what you’re doing, something this physicist seems to be on top offby Kirby, on
What do you do when you want to own a Lamborghini Aventador, but you don’t have the money to go buy one? Some people will save up to buy one while others will probably just resign themselves to not getting a chance at it no matter what they do. Then there’s physicist Sterling Backus. Without the financial means to buy a supercar that starts at $330,000, Backus decided to build his own Aventador, using nothing more than spare parts, a few original parts, and a 3D printer. Backus started creating his 3D-printed Aventador — he calls it the AXAS Interceptor — and has so far invested $20,000 in the build. He and his son have been at it building the car for the past 18 months, working on it for at least one hour every day. Progress has been slow, but seeing how the car is coming together may make the long build worth it in the end. To think this whole idea to 3D print a Lamborghini Aventador came after a video game run of Forza Horizon 3.
A 3D Printed Lamborghini That Might Turn Out Okay
Sterling Backus is my hero. This is the kind of man who will take you up on a dare if he knows there’s a way to make you look like a fool. While it certainly didn’t play out that way, Backus and his son decided to build a Lamborghini Aventador using a 3D printer after the latter asked him if they could do it. I can imagine that Backus was challenged by his son’s question so instead of half-heartedly saying that he probably could and forgetting about it as soon as those words left his mouth, Backus backed up his talk and proceeded to build what most of us can only imagine of doing.
It’s hard to imagine building a car using only 3D-printed parts. It’s harder to imagine it if the car in question happens to be an Italian supercar that’s built from the finest and most expensive parts and equipment in the world. There’s a reason, folks, why the Aventador costs at least $330,000. But give Backus credit.
He worked his way around the problem by identifying the parts that he could print using a 3D printer and then spending for the important parts that he couldn’t just print from the printer.
The chassis, for example, can’t be 3D-printed, so Backus created one from scratch with a cantilever coil-over suspension system. Other bits and pieces were sourced from an actual Lamborghini, including the door windows, side mirror glass, wiper arms, and the rear-view mirror. Undaunted, the physicist even took parts from Audi, specifically the steering wheel and a number of switches in the interior. The engine is also sourced from another vehicle, though from a different Lamborghini. Instead, Backus decided to use 5.7-liter LS1 V-8 engine that he sourced from a 2003 Chevrolet Corvette. So Backus’ DIY Aventador doesn’t come with 700 horsepower on tap. The LS1 engine’s 350-horsepower output is potent enough to get this car going. Meanwhile, the transaxle is also sourced, this time from a 996-generation Porsche 911.
But that’s the extent of it. Everything else, including the entire body panel of the Aventador, is 3D-printed. That includes headlights, taillights, air vents, a handful of interior parts, and pretty much the entire body panel of the DIY supercar. “Originally we were going to build it out of steel on a buck, but seeing how far 3D printing had come, we decided to 3D print the car instead,” Backus told WhichCar.
Now, before we dive deep into Backus’ creation, some of you might still not be familiar with 3D printing and what exactly it’s all about. 3D printing, in a nutshell, is a process by which a physical object is created from a three-dimensional digital model. Thin layers are printed by the 3D printer, and those layers are typically laid down one after another in succession until the three-dimensional digital model takes real shape. The mere idea of 3D printing car parts may still sound scary, and for good reason. When you talk about printing car parts from a computer in your house, there’s a certain amount of skepticism surrounding the strength of these parts and how they’ll hold up compared to the usual parts automakers use.
But 3D printing technology has advanced so much in recent years that a lot of today’s automakers have actually tapped into the technology.
Bugatti, for example, created the world’s largest titanium brake caliper using parts it printed from what it said is the world’s largest 3D printer. Koenigsegg, Bugatti’s rival in many ways, including technological innovation, has also used 3D printing in creating some of the parts that went into its hypercars. Some cars like the Equus Bass770 were built using 3D printed parts. The technology isn’t new to the industry and years of advancing it through rigorous testing and development have made it an important source in auto building.
That’s one of many reasons why you shouldn’t be suspicious of Sterling Backus’ attempts to build a Lamborghini Aventador using 3D printed parts. The physicist designs the panels on Solidworks, a 3D design program, and prints each panel in small pieces using three 3D printers he bought from Amazon. Yes, folks. Amazon. From there, Backus glues each panel together, with some panels fixed unto a steel frame underneath. Of course, the work doesn’t end there. In order to improve on the body panels structural strength — and give it a “single-piece” aesthetic — Backus wraps each part in carbon fiber Kevlar before sealing them in place through a process called vacuüm encapsulation. Care to venture a guess where he learned about that method? If you answered YouTube, give yourselves a pat on the back.
So what exactly is vacuüm encapsulation?
LACO Technologies describes it as a process that uses a vacuum to encapsulate or encompass a part or panel with a potting compound.
The process is often used to protect products from moisture, contaminants, and mechanical damage. In the case of Backus’ Aventador, vacuüm encapsulating the carbon fiber Kevlar into the 3D-printed body panels not only creates the uniform “single-piece” look but, more importantly, it strengthens the panels’ toughness and rigidity with the presence of the carbon fiber Kevlar without compromising the panels’ weight. It figures that with Backus’ plans for his DIY project, body panels infused with carbon fiber Kevlar would come in handy in a lot of situations.
That’s not to say that Backus knew what he was doing from the beginning. The physicist admitted that to winging some of the developmental processes that came in creating his Aventador. Give him credit, though, for learning quickly and on-the-fly. It’s not just about learning the 3D printing process; he also designed and built a tubular steel frame chassis a front and rear “cantilever coil-over suspension system,” a design that’s largely similar in principle to the Aventador’s own inboard suspension setup.
The whole project — Backus calls it the AXAS Interceptor, presumably to steer clear of Lamborghini’s trademarks — is far from finished. Some body panels have yet to be created, and the entire still needs a proper dress-up. But the project has advanced to the point that it’s already taken shape, and, by the looks of it, Backus and his son aren’t that far off in creating their own version of the Aventador. W
e’re definitely rooting for the father-and-son duo to complete this build, and do so without exceeding their budget of under $20,000.
That’s less than 10 percent of the actual cost of the base Aventador.
“We have a long way to go in finishing the car,” Backus said. “We have had our ups and downs, but the journey has been a ton of fun!”
Count us in that group that’s rooting for him and his son to finish their build so they can proudly show off the fruits of the labor.
Lamborghini Aventador SV Drivetrain Specifications
|Type||6.5 liter, naturally aspirated V12|
|Output||740 HP @ 8,400 RPM|
|Torque||509 LB-FT @ 5,500 RPM|
|0 to 100 km/h (62 mph)||2.8 Seconds|
|Top speed||> 350 KM/H (217 MPH)|
Read our full review on the Lamborghini Aventador LP 750-4 SV.
Read our full review on the 2019 Lamborghini Aventador SVJ Roadster.