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Prints On Wheels

3D Printed RC Car: 12 Cars to Feel Like an F1 Racer

Picture of David Contreni
by David Contreni
Oct 31, 2019
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3D printers are even more fun when they're used for a wild hobby like RC cars. Dig into this collection of 3D printed RC car projects, ranging from simple to advanced.

3D Printed RC Car Models & Projects Fuel Your Hobby

The good old days?
The good old days? (Source: Wanabrc / R/C Tech Forums)

There was a time when the radio-controlled vehicle hobby had an incredibly high barrier of entry. The models themselves were expensive, the electronics were pricey, and the skills were difficult to acquire unless you joined a club.

But over time, as technology improved and costs became more reasonable, radio-controlled models became a more casual hobby.

Now, with an expanded radio spectrum and dirt-cheap Pacific Rim electronics, RC cars, in particular, are approachable by pretty much anyone in some form or another. And the rising accessibility of consumer 3D printing doesn’t hurt, either.

This article aims to showcase some of what’s possible thanks to 3D printing. Along with some potentially printable models, we’re including a few projects that may just shock even the most experienced hobbyists. But we feel we should add the disclaimer that, just because something can or even has been created with a 3D printer, doesn’t mean that it should be replicated by just anyone. The last few models in this list are noteworthy projects that, for one reason or another, are unlikely to be replicated successfully by any but the most ambitious of hobbyists.

Nevertheless, we hope all the models and projects in the list provide fuel for your imagination.

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3D Printed RC Car Models & Projects Classic Retro Design

Ain't it cute?
Ain't it cute? (Source: Rick Winscott / Instructables)

When Rick Winscot discovered that the classic gas-powered Cox Dune Buggy was long out of production, he designed his own. It’s powered by continuous rotation servos and a standard RC controller or an Arduino Nano. You can download the files from Thingiverse or edit the model on Tinkercad.

Who made it? Rick Winscot (@rwinscot)

Who printed it? This model has close to 1,500 downloads, so it’s probably brought fun to many makers.

Where to get it? Thingiverse

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3D Printed RC Car Models & Projects Simple and Modular

Made to be modular.
Made to be modular. (Source: lcs5000 / Instructables)

This model was designed by a high school student to be simple enough to assemble with his younger brother who has ADD. Despite being fairly simple, you have a choice of adding complications like a drive train, if you so desire.

Who made it? lcs5000 (@lcs5000)

Who printed it? This has over 13,000 views and over 100 likes.

Where to get it? Instructables provides a full bill of materials along with the STL files and step-by-step instructions.

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3D Printed RC Car Models & Projects Easy to Print

A simple design for anyone
A simple design for anyone. (Source: Lazlo Hollyfeld / Thingiverse)

This RC car has a clean design since it’s intended to be easy to print and assemble with low-cost components. It’s a little large for a 200-mm square bed, but it’s simple enough that you can modify it to fit. We think it’s a good option for a first-time builder.

There’s a YouTube video that includes some FPV footage of it driving. From the video, it seems to be quick enough to be fun to drive.

Who made it? Lazlo Holyfield (@nullandvoid)

Who printed it? No makes are posted, but it’s got over 350 likes and it’s been added to almost 500 collections.

Where to get it? Thingiverse

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3D Printed RC Car Models & Projects No Screws Required

Remix, anyone?
Remix, anyone? (Source: Taylor Alexander / Make)

Files for the Flutter-Scout are available on GitHub. It originally used ARM-based controller boards formerly available from Flutter Wireless. Unfortunately, they don’t seem to be taking orders anymore, but it doesn’t look like it would be terribly difficult to modify the existing designs to use microcontrollers that are commonly available.

Taylor Alexander discusses the design on his blog, so take a look at what he’s done if you’re interested in building it.

Who made it? Taylor Alexander (@tlalexander)

Who printed it? The electronics came from a successful Kickstarter with 1,600 backers.

Where to get it? GitHub

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3D Printed RC Car Models & Projects Rough and Tumble Street Racer

This one can take a few crashes.
This one can take a few crashes. (Source: Banana Science / Thingiverse)

Some toys just seem to attract hard play, and RC cars pretty much define that category. This 3D printed vehicle is packed with beefy structural components with that in mind. In fact, this is an updated V2 model that’s been modified with improvements and better batteries. There’s a model in the online editor Onshape that you can take a look at if you want to see for yourself.

Who made it? Banana Science (@Banana Science)

Who printed it? No makes posted yet, but over 800 downloads means this design has probably hit the road on many occasions.

Where to get it? Thingiverse

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3D Printed RC Car Models & Projects Take It Easy

A nice and detailed tractor in color.
A nice and detailed tractor in color. (Source: makit / MyMiniFactory)

This nicely detailed tractor from MyMiniFactory is an update from a previous OpenRC model. If you’ve already printed the old one, you can update it by printing just a few new parts. There’s even a working dumping trailer accessory that you can print and add on.

Obviously, this isn’t in the same category in terms of playability as the other rugged models, but it’s a nice experience to play with, nonetheless.

Who made it? makit (@makit)

Who printed it? There are 853 downloads posted and a few pictures of finished makes.

Where to get it? MyMiniFactory

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3D Printed RC Car Models & Projects Petrol-Powered

This futuristic design is actually a petrol-powered racer.
This futuristic design is actually a petrol-powered racer. (Source: Vectary / Myminifactory)

This skeletal design was created with the Vectary online modeling tool and can be downloaded from MyMiniFactory. It utilizes a tiny petrol engine for old-school RC car fun. You can download the design for a very reasonable two dollars.

The petrol engine might make this model harder to maintain, but it can add an element of nostalgia to the driving experience that you just don’t get with the others.

Who made it? Vectary (@VECTARY)

Who printed it? This model has a whopping 3,900 downloads at two dollars a pop.

Where to get it? MyMiniFactory

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3D Printed RC Car Models & Projects Open Source Design in Resin

Only strong resin will do
Only strong resin will do. (Source: Daniel Noree / Pinshape)

Daniel Noree has designed a collection of open-sourced 3D printed vehicles. Here’s his take on an F1-style 3D printed race car. There are more details about the design and construction of the OpenRC cars on the Pinshape blog, where he mentions using resin for strength. We’re pretty sure that ABS on an FDM printer would work perfectly well, though.

Who made it? Daniel Noree

Who printed it? This model has close to 1,500 downloads, so it’s probably brought fun to many makers.

Where to get it? Pinshape

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3D Printed RC Car Models & Projects The Major Leagues

Custom 3D printed tires on a regular RC car.
Custom 3D printed tires on a regular RC car. (Source: RCLifeOn / YouTube)

The following models step away from what most people are willing to undertake and instead show the raw potential of 3D printing applied to RC cars. Nevertheless, it’s nice to admire them so we can see just how far 3D printing can go given enough trial and error.

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3D Printed RC Car Models & Projects Keep Your Printer Busy

Many 3D printed parts later, this beast is born.
Many 3D printed parts later, this beast is born. (Source: Kris Shellman / Thingiverse)

You may have noticed that some of these projects are full of hobby shop components designed for RC cars. In contrast, Kris Shellman designed his Tarmo 3 to use as many 3D printed parts as possible. There’s so much to print that the Taro 3 takes up three whole Thingiverse projects:

Who made it? Kris Shellman (@KrisCubed)

Who printed it? This model has more than 2,000 downloads, so it’s definitely seen some action.

Where to get it? Thingiverse

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3D Printed RC Car Models & Projects The 70-Pound Car

Yes, you can (probably) ride it
Yes, you can (probably) ride it. (Source: Julian Horsey / Geeky Gadgets)

Perhaps you were lucky enough to see this 70-lb “car” at the 2014 Makerfaire. If not, you can still see YouTube videos that document its construction.

It’s rumored to be ridable. We hope the builders had some good fortune in that respect. At 70 pounds (32 kg), it’s probably heavy enough to cause some bodily harm in a collision.

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3D Printed RC Car Models & Projects Giant OpenRC Racer

A giant OpenRC F1 racer.
A giant OpenRC F1 racer. (Source: Lewin Day / Hackaday)

This project is yet another example of Daniel Noree’s OpenRC F1 racer. The only difference is that parts of it have been sectioned in order to print a model four times larger than the original.

Since it’s just a matter of increasing the scale (and chopping it up to fit the bed of a 3D printer people might actually own). This one could be recreated by an ambitious fan, but before trying it, you should probably be aware that it requires over 20 kg of filament.

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3D Printed RC Car Models & Projects Giant Toy or Mini Float

Good thing this giant quadcopter can't fly!
Good thing this giant quadcopter can't fly! (Source: Mike Chua / mikeshouts.com)

If you have an interest in robots, Iron Man, or advanced 3D printed projects, you’re likely aware of James Bruton. Here’s another one of his projects, a “Bladez Toyz Drone Racer” created for the 2017 Hamleys Parade. The original toy has a quadcopter that attaches to a Hotwheels car and detaches for free flight.

James’ model is made of plywood, aluminum extrusion, and 3D printed parts. It features the tilting action of the toy but doesn’t actually fly. (That’s probably a good thing.)

You can follow the construction across a series of YouTube videos.

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3D Printed RC Car Models & Projects Wrapping Up

An RC car chassis on CGTrader.
An RC car chassis on CGTrader. (Source: CGTrader)

And so we complete our tour of a dozen 3D printed RC cars (“cars” used somewhat loosely in some cases). Our collection has ranged from relatively easy to challenging to one of a kind. We hope you enjoyed it!

If cars aren’t your thing, but you like the “control” part of RC, perhaps you’d enjoy our article on DIY robots. Some of them use control electronics similar to some of the cars that have been presented here.

(Lead image source: Daniel Noree / Pinshape)

License: The text of "3D Printed RC Car: 12 Cars to Feel Like an F1 Racer" by All3DP is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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