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Reviving the Past: Shane Drake Uses 3D Printing to Create Complex Automotive Parts

Jul 26, 2023

In the realm of automotive restoration, finding rare or discontinued parts can be a daunting task. However, thanks to the ingenuity and expertise of small business owner Shane Drake, car enthusiasts now have a solution. Operating out of his homestead farm in Maine, Shane has successfully built a thriving business centered around recreating parts for vintage Japanese car platforms that no longer have original equipment manufacturer (OEM) support. Using 3D printing technology and his meticulous craftsmanship, Shane has carved a niche for himself in the automotive industry.

Shane has successfully built a thriving business centered around recreating parts for vintage Japanese car platforms

“The OEM pieces get lost or broken over time and then the supply doesn’t meet up with demand,” Drake said. “I will pretty much remake them by hand, essentially just adding, you know, beefier components or reimagining how it might be fastened to the piece or reinventing the clips or anything from changing the finish or just adding my own touch to it.”


A Love for Cars Becomes a Living

Shane’s love for cars dates back to his high school days when he delved into car programs and dreamed of designing innovative vehicles. After gaining experience as a dealership technician, he realized he wanted more creative freedom. A stint in the military eventually led him to Japan, a car enthusiast’s paradise. It was there that Drake found the inspiration to start his own business. In Japan, he built a few cars using experience he gained in vehicle production, and was featured in multiple magazines.

“I sort of developed a love-hate affair with the military,” Drake said. “I loved the adventure and everything like that, but I had a family so I was always looking for a way out. That’s what the business was. It was basically an opportunity to work on what I really liked doing, which is working on cars.”

Drake found the inspiration to start his own business working on cars


3D Printing Technology Leads to the Birth of a Business

In 2017, Shane embarked on his entrepreneurial journey, leveraging his 3D printing knowledge gained from observing the jewelry industry. Recognizing the potential to apply this technology to automotive manufacturing, he sought out the best 3D printer available at the time and acquired it from the United States. With the printer in hand, Shane started remaking interior parts for vintage Japanese car models, striving to make them even better than the original OEM versions. Drake considers the printers essential to his business.

“I gotta say, with the Raise3D printers, it’s in my blood just basically because it’s been the backbone of my business,” he said. “When I was looking for printers, it looked like a professional printer, as opposed to a lot of the other stuff that was coming out.”

Raise3D printers have been the backbone of Shane’s business


3D printers allowed him to recreate parts with precision and strength. Despite the challenges of shipping and logistical constraints, he harnessed the capabilities of 3D printers. Shane’s mastery of printer settings, such as using a larger nozzle and optimized layer heights, ensures he achieves both speed and quality in production. In addition, while Raise3D printers lay the foundation, Drake’s meticulous craftsmanship takes the extra mile. Rather than merely focusing on functionality, Shane goes the extra mile to ensure that each piece matches the original OEM aesthetics and performance.

What sets Shane’s business apart is his commitment to providing not only functional parts but also impeccable finishes. He carefully sands and refinishes each piece, giving it an automotive-grade look and feel. While many manufacturers prioritize ease of printing, Shane’s focus remains on delivering parts that perfectly match the OEM aesthetics and performance.

Shane is committed to providing not only functional parts but also impeccable finishes


Carbon Fiber Composites are Easily Printed with Raise3D Printers

Shane’s choice of materials plays a crucial role in striking the right balance between strength, affordability, and customer preferences. While ABS plastics are his primary material, he also explores carbon fiber composites and even offers carbon fiber overlays to give parts a lightweight and sporty appearance. This flexibility allows customers to customize their vintage cars with modern touches seamlessly.

In addition to providing parts made from these high-performance materials, Shane also offers carbon fiber overlays. These overlays give customers the option to add a touch of modernity and sportiness to their vintage cars, without compromising the overall aesthetic. By expanding the material choices, Shane ensures that his customers have the flexibility to personalize their vehicles according to their preferences.

The combination of 3D printing technology and Shane’s craftsmanship expertise allows him to provide high-quality parts that not only meet but often surpass the original OEM standards. With the ability to recreate intricate designs and the option to choose from a variety of materials, vintage car enthusiasts can now restore their beloved vehicles to their former glory. Shane Drake’s utilization of 3D printing exemplifies the transformative potential of this technology in the automotive restoration industry, marking a significant step forward in meeting the demand for rare and discontinued parts.

The combination of 3D printing technology and Shane’s craftsmanship expertise provide high-quality parts that not only meet but often surpass the original OEM standards


3D Printing Allows for Demands and Precision to be Met

Thanks to Shane’s relentless dedication, his business has seen steady growth of around 20% year over year. However, he acknowledges the challenges of keeping up with demand, particularly with the hand-finishing process. As he continues to expand, Shane recognizes the need to explore automation and explore new opportunities to streamline his production. If his capital allows for it, he hopes to upgrade to a Pro3 or E2CF model, which are much faster printers and have higher accuracy, especially when it comes to carbon fiber printing.

For Drake, the reliability of the 3D printers is the number one benefit. He leaves them running 24/7, and leaves them in a building next to his house so he doesn’t need to worry about them. In addition, the wide range of materials available for use and printing is something Drake believes is setting the standard for commercial printers.

Raise3D Printers Allow for Demands and Precision to be Met


“And you know what? They look cool,” Drake said. “They definitely look cooler than any other 3D printer.”

Shane Drake’s passion for cars, combined with his expertise in 3D printing, has resulted in a thriving business that caters to the needs of vintage car enthusiasts. Through his meticulous craftsmanship and innovative use of materials, Shane successfully fills the gap left by OEMs, offering high-quality, customized parts for older Japanese car platforms. As his business continues to grow, Shane remains committed to delivering the finest automotive restoration experience to his customers.

Drake said, “Raise3D Printers definitely look cooler than any other 3D printer.”

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