Kurt Bayer is a Herald reporter based in Christchurch

3D printer produces Aston Martin DB4

Ivan Sentch who is building a Classic Aston Martin using a 3-D printer. Photo / Dean Purcell.
Ivan Sentch who is building a Classic Aston Martin using a 3-D printer. Photo / Dean Purcell.

A computer programmer is changing the way classic car enthusiasts think about building replicas, by using 3D technology to print a full-sized Aston Martin.

Ivan Sentch, 32, is printing hundreds of pieces of plastic parts that fit together to form a 1961 Series II Aston Martin DB4 - an earlier, but very similar model to the one made famous by James Bond.

The Aucklander's blog, Replica DB4 Project, has chronicled the ambitious project since he started it in his Albany garage in January and now has an international internet following.

The married father-of-two says he's about 72 per cent through the body printing process.

The outline will be used to create a fibreglass mould which will be used to make a custom-built spaceframe.

Once the plastic print-out is finished, he thinks it'll be as close to an original sleek, stylish classic sportscar as you could get.

"It's be seriously cool. I want to use it for my everyday car," Mr Sentch said.

"It'll look a lot closer than a kit car. They get similar but are never quite right."

The backyard innovator has been planning to build an Aston Martin replica for three years.

But after researching how to do it, and discovering the usual method of making a mould costs between $12,000 and $15,000, he began looking at other ways of making his dream car come true.

"I started looking at 3D printing, and found out I could do it for about $3000-worth of plastic, plus a $500 printer. So, I went for it."

Although it seems like painstaking work, Mr Sentch says he only spends a few hours a week on the project.

"The printer does all the work," he said.

"I spend about an hour a week preparing the week's prints, and the printer - which has been going non-stop since January - does the rest.

"The only time consuming bit is the prints need to be sanded a bit to remove the burrs before I stick them together."

He added: "I built a Ferrari 250 GTO replica when I was 21, but that was relatively simple compared to this project."

Once he glues together about 2500 parts, the exterior will be complete.

Then, he'll build a chassis, and fit it with a six cylinder engine from a Nissan Skyline GTS.

After it's painted, and fitted with new wire wheels, second-hand original windows and lights, it'll get certified and be road legal. But that'll be a few years away yet, Mr Sentch thinks.

It's a long, drawn out process, but one that he reckons is worth it.

"I'm not really interested in modern cars. They're good for about five years and then they're just an old car again. But the classic ones just get better and better as they get older."


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