Hahn Auto Restoration Deploys Scanning and 3D Printing to Produce Custom Fiat-Hellcat Car
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Pennsylvania-based auto restoration shop Hahn automatic catering uses 3D scanning to build a custom Fiat-Hellcat car for one of its customers.
The customer came into the company with a desire to build a new car, and the partners set out to create the Fiat-Hellcat after drawing inspiration from Fiat Topolino racing cars from the 1950s and 1960s, where the racers attached Topolino bodywork to their Rail Dragsters.
To create the Hot Rod, the company used 3D scanning to adapt a Fiat 500 body to a Dodge Charger Hellcat chassis and determine where to precisely cut the cars in order to assemble them.
“The Fiat-Hellcat project started out like most Hot Rods, two adults left unattended, usually guys figuring out things to do for perfectly good, or not so good, cars,” said William Hahn, founder and owner of Hahn Auto Restoration. “However, we wanted to be able to drive it on the street, run it on a track, cross it automatically, all with modern amenities like air conditioning and an audio system.”
Leveraging MA for Car Restoration
Hahn has been restoring cars for almost 50 years and founded Hahn Auto Restoration in 2001 with Wes Woodward, originally as Hahn and Woodward. After Woodward sold his shares, Paul Vorbach came on board as a junior partner and the company was renamed Hahn-Vorbach.
Hahn-Vorbach, as he was then called, became nationally recognized for his car restorations and custom builds, having exhibited his work in some of the top competitions in the United States, such as Pebble Beach, Amelia Island and The Elegance in Hershey.
Soon after, Hahn and Vorbach started a spin-off company, HV3D, who was looking to leverage 3D printing to help solve the challenge of locating rare and expensive components to build their cars. In 2017, the duo decided to give their full attention to each company; Hahn retained the restoration company which became Hahn Auto Restoration, and Vorbach assumed full ownership of HV3DWorks.
The two have remained close friends and business partners, referring to each other where appropriate. Hahn also continued to take advantage of 3D printing and scanning technologies to complete his restorations and custom car builds.
“I think our first foray was to produce a 300SL emblem for a 1956 Mercedes-Benz Gullwing,” he said. “Some customers wanted personalized emblems for their cars. In those cases, we were also able to produce scaled-down versions of their custom emblem that they could install on their dashboard.
“Recently we produced an emblem for a 1957 Austin Healey. The original engine was a 6 cylinder so it had an emblem with a ‘6’ as part of the emblem. The car is now fitted with a Corvette V-8 engine, so we replaced the “6” with an “8” while maintaining the same styling and font.
Benefits of 3D printing and scanning
Hahn Auto Restoration uses 3D printing primarily to produce end-use stainless steel parts, which tend to require post-processing work such as sanding or filing before they are sent for polishing and chrome plating. The company has been using 3D printing and scanning for about six years and worked with Jerry Martin of Charger Metal Works to find the optimum quality of metal for printing through trial and error.
According to Hahn, one of the most important benefits of using 3D printing is the high cost savings, “otherwise many parts just could not be justified.” It also recognizes that technology makes it easy to reduce or increase the size of a client’s design, as the company has demonstrated with its 3D printed emblems.
Besides 3D printing of parts, the company is deploying 3D scanning for a variety of other reasons. For example, digitizing a part allows the store to keep a copy that can be reproduced in the event of destruction during a vintage race.
In addition, 3D scanning allows the store to compare a wrecked car or a vehicle that has undergone “less than perfect” repairs, to determine any defects.
“After restoring the Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwings and Roadsters bodies to a few millimeters near the factory drawings, we 3D scanned each one,” said Hahn. “Now we can scan 300SL cars from new customers, overlay the scans and determine exactly where the panels are warped. Thus, leaving no room for tips for the human eye.
Build the Fiat-Hellcat
3D scanning also allows the store to locate the best lines to follow when cutting a car to “match” it to another body or chassis, demonstrated by the store’s Fiat-Hellcat project.
“I located a Dodge Charger Hellcat that was overturned and totaled by the insurance company,” Hahn said. “He was less than 3,000 miles and Texas. Then we bought a high mileage but rust free Fiat 500. We reinforced the chassis part of the Charger, then cut the bodywork while leaving a lot of scraps. We then removed the transmission from the Fiat and reinforced the bodywork.
Once this was done, Hahn enlisted the services of Chris Tomko, a former employee who founded the tool maker ‘AMClad’. 3d cool which was purchased by binder-jet 3D printer maker ExOne earlier this year.
Tomko scanned both the Dodge and the Fiat, then overlaid the scans to determine precisely where Hahn would need to cut the cars in order to join them. The Fiat-Hellcat was then married with new panels made from high strength 4130 steel and welded together. Hahn and Tomko are currently discussing the possibility of 3D printing new body panels for custom cars.
Restoration of old cars
3D printing and scanning technologies have previously been used to reverse engineer and manufacture rare or discontinued parts for classic cars.
For example, the British catering team Rethinking sport has already deployed 3D scanning and CAD modeling to reverse engineer a classic Ferrari, while Porsche and Mercedes-Benz both have taken advantage of 3D printing to manufacture spare parts for their classic models.
Meanwhile, in June, Sauber Engineering announced plans to set up a 3D printing company to produce classic car spare parts on demand to meet the demands of vintage car enthusiasts.
The recreation of rare classic car parts using 3D printing and scanning even made it to TV, during a popular UK automotive TV show SOS car deployed technologies to restore the custom center console of a 1970s Ford Cortina Mark III X.
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Featured Image Shows the custom Fiat-Hellcat. Photo via William Hahn / Hahn Auto Restauration.