Fecha de publicación: 29/04/2015
DEBATE : WILL 3D PRINTING REVOLUTIONIZE THE SLOT CAR INDUSTRY?
3DP DEBATE
Chris Boyer, David Cosculluela, Philippe de Lespinay, Adrian Norman, Marco Montrasio, Jordi Molist, Dave Kennedy and Miquel Miret show their point of view.
WILL 3D PRINTING REVOLUTIONIZE THE SLOT CAR INDUSTRY?

We begin with this question a new section on SlotCar Today in which we ask the opinion of the main actors in Slot segment on very concrete and specific topics.
We hope to offer answers for or against about the question.


FOR

Chris Boyer
(Proto Slot Kit owner)

Of course, 3D printing when it will be popularized and join all the houses also allow curious and amateurs to test their creativity and try to make their toys themselves.
I think that 3D printing will not only revolutionize the slot car world, but also our way of life. In the near future it will be possible to print household objects, and may be even clothing, or food. Global trade will be revolutionized.
But it may remain a place for artisans, artists, who still prefer the contact between the hand and the material, and perhaps a customer base that appreciates this art. An object made by hand will be worth more to them than an object from an impersonal machine.

David Cosculluela
(Ninco CEO)

"I am convinced that the future of 1:32th scale slot car is linked to 3D printing or other forms of post-industrial self manufacturing.
The investment required in industrial processes and molds to manufacture a plastic injection car with current sales volumes makes very difficult the sector feasibility.
Technological developments and the lowering of 3D provides an opportunity to continue working and evolving our hobby."

Jordi Molist
(Hobby Project)

Obviously, as in all sectors of the industry, perhaps not as fast as some "fear" or crave but progressive and unstoppable.
What is now only used for prototypes and production parts that require little definition, they will soon be bodywork and countless accessories.
Only a matter of time, however, it is not only pressing the button, the design will be a key and fundamental part of this process.

Miquel Miret
(Sloting Plus)

Undoubtedly, the production of items in 3D through various manufacturing systems represents a small step for the world of slot.
In the same way that the appearance of the resin was also a step forward filling a gap, products made in 3D also take their place. 3D is here to stay.
I am convinced that from now and for a long time, 3D will become the perfect ally of slot passionate, and hence of the big brands, and will occupy a space between those seeking something different from the wide range of possibilities that offers slot practice.
In no case 3D affect the great slot production as we know it, because being all slot, the goals of both are the same yet different. Certainly they complement and only we, the fans, passionate about slot, have in hand a chance to fit this new form of production for our own benefit.
We will need a little time, and mind open to the possibilities that some manufacturers already offer, but certainly we can not abstract from the evolution and technical development that's already on the tracks.


AGAINST

Philippe de Lespinay
(Los Angeles Slot Car Museum Curator)

I believe that 3D printing is great and will be great for very small production runs, but is not feasible for actual volume production. Even if all automatized, it is vastly too time consuming to be economical and I do not see a solution for this in the near future, despite the progress accomplished in just a few years.

Dave Kennedy
(Carrera of America)

I think that 3d printing will allow niche products to be made for hobbyists. Larger slot companies make slot cars for the broadest possible audience. 3D printing allows a smaller company to make a product that they can offer on an as-ordered basis so they won’t need to have the risk of carrying the inventory of a part that might not sell well. So a company doing designs for chassis can make a design, and it will only be produced if someone orders it. This benefits both the hobbyist which will be able to get a part if he really wants it and also benefits the company producing it because if the part turns out to not be that popular they aren’t stuck with inventory that’s not selling.
Also it does make brands more appealing for hobbyists that might not like the chassis design (or motor layout). Now the hobbyist can buy a slot car from a company and replace it with a chassis that is more to their liking. So if they want to add a floating motor pod they can more easily now without having to cut in a pod into a flat chassis.

Marco Montrasio
(Racer Emmegi)

Well, it is a very difficult question. Frankly speaking I do not have the right knowledge to understand if this could be the future for slot car hobby. At the moment I just see it as a good opportunity to create or adjust or modify chassis looking for a better performance, even if I also think that the result is still to be verified. Detailing for bodies it's another story, impossible with actual technology to reach a level of excellence.



ON DEPTH

Adrian Norman
(Brand Research Scalextric Hornby Hobbies)

Revolutionize! It will add a new dimension, certainly. Will it revolutionize the industry. Perhaps not, in the short term (5-10 years) it may offer something to the hobby for the end-customer, the slot car fan but not the casual novice customer. I think it will take another decade before any proper revolution will happen in terms of 3D printing for our hobby. Many other things in the industry can occur in that time!

The nature of creating a 3D print file requires the designer to have every last detail and measurement of the item to be printed. For instance, if the item is a replacement part such as a rear wing (which are often broken) then the considerations are: should the replacement be an exact copy of the original slot cat wing, a copy of the 1:1 car wing, a less-detailed or accurate wing or a generic replacement wing. Bear in mind that, strictly speaking, the 1:1 car manufacturer has I.P. rights to the wing shape so licensing should be considered if acting commercially.

Accessories are a new opportunity. Spectators, mechanics, marshal posts, buildings large and small, barriers, signs, etc., etc., are a huge opportunity. I can see a lot of growth here as all of these can be designed without any legal constraints such as licensing and manufacturing EU guidelines and restrictions.

Moving on from cottage-industry activities to main line toy and hobby manufacturers: Yes, the industry could change enormously. The main problem today is that general 3D printing is not yet at a quality and affordability required to the average slot car fan.

Whilst manufacturers could place the CAD data for all their car parts on their website for the enthusiast to download and print (or print to order) I think there would be a general reluctance for the manufacturer to do this. Several reasons exist tied up with legal requirements to produce toys and models to a particular standard. EU regulations regarding electronics, materials, glues, non-biodegradable components, content of inks and paints and, of course, general health and safety. All these subjects would have to be satisfied before a manufacturer can release product on to the market – and this assumes that the Licensors are in agreement with how their I.P. is reproduced!

All things are possible but the right commercial climate has to be present. Technology, cost, commercial acceptance and willingness, licensor or I.P. owner agreement are some of the hurdles which may take time to overcome. Cottage industry activity can avoid many of these obstacles and this is already witnessed with a handful of enterprising people producing components for the slot car industry. On a more commercial basis, SLOT.IT has made successful steps in to the 3D printing world printing conversion chassis for various slot car manufacturers - including (Hornby) Scalextric cars.

My feeling is that in the short term, home printing or print-to-order of accessories and replacement parts stands to be the biggest advancement for the slot car community. I think that we will have to wait many years before we see ready-to-race sets or solo cars offered in a whole, or part, as a 3D printable commodity. However, the slot car manufacturers, both small and large, will always be looking to gain advantages over their competitors and we are always reminded about those that rest on their laurels!
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