On cheap fixes, baby


I have no money right now, and the next thing I need to do with the bus is fix the sliding door again. The V-grooved bearing that the door rests on split in half suddenly on Thursday, so the side door is Out of Order until I spend $25 on a special VW bearing.

What I do have, however, is two mini-kegs of Heineken and a 3D printer, along with a few little issues on the beetle.

The first (and maybe only) thing I’m tackling this weekend is the rear turn signals. The beetle’s rear turn signal lenses have been bleaching clear over the past two years, so they’re no longer yellow. This is bad, because the COB LED bulbs I have back there are a bright white, and we all know that a car with white turn signals is annoying as shit. They look kind of like this:


I hate the fact that my phone does auto white balance (and I can’t change the setting, LG G3 Vigor) because I need you to believe that the following picture has a white flasher:


It looks yellow, but that’s just a trick of the remnants of the yellow coating.

I wanted a double-walled 3D printed object that had no infill, so it would diffuse the light from the LED bulb evenly. I could easily print a cylinder that fits snugly over the bulb, but where’s the fun in that?

It took a few trial-and-error iterations.



Signal before:


Signal after:


It’s a neon/transparent orange, so it looks a bit funky, especially in low light. It’s fluorescent so it kind of looks brighter than everything else.

The hole was meant to vent hot air (even LEDs get hot, especially in the summer) but I had a brain fart and forgot about orientation when I was designing it.


Again, you’re going to have to trust me on this, but this turn signal flash is a brilliant orange/amber, with no trace of white anywhere. It’s not as bright as the bare bulb, but at night through testing it honestly was way too bright before. I’ve been driving around for a year as that asshole that has blinding turn signals, apparently.


E: I made two gifs showing the difference, hopefully.



A roll of filament is 2.2 lbs (1kg), varies between $15 and $20 depending on color (transparent orange is $17/roll), and each of my prototypes was estimated to be .06lbs on the slicer. So around .45 cents each. Add electricity, which is (off-peak) 7c/kWh, and the printer that consumes about 300 watts to heat up and 180 watts to maintain heat and movement, so let’s say 250W average (heat-up is pretty long). Each prototype was about 45 minutes of printing plus heat-up, so let’s just say one hour of use at 250W. That’s, what, 2-4 cents? Each nozzle is around $3, and they last about 100-150 hours of printing before I throw them out due to contamination and wear, because they’re brass. Also the belts on the printer are $10/apiece, and there are three, and each set of belts is probably good for 2000 hours or so with proper care. I have nearly that many hours of printing (I think) but I can see some good wear on the belts and they’ll probably eat it sometime this year. 90% of the belt wear was from when I was learning and crashed the head a few times, causing the belts to skip. That still happens on occasion.

So each part cost between $.50-1.00.


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