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Making Tires with 3D Printed Molds

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Making Tires with 3D Printed Molds

Old 11-03-2023, 02:11 AM
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RC10Nick thanks for this thread and all the work you put into this... I may not have pursued my own work without this inspiration. After a few set of tires printed with very good results, I have now confidence I'll be able to share the approach for making rubber resin tires using a 3D printer without the need for a mold. I'm still considering molding for some usage, but that will be for another venture, and is probably going to involve resin printer as well for modling and an injection press...
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Old 11-19-2023, 08:17 AM
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Those 3D printed tires look awesome, and the fact that they held up for 10 packs is impressive! It's fantastic that you've found a cost-effective way to customize your tires. Considering a harder rubber for the next set sounds like a smart move, especially for longer race days. Have you thought about experimenting with different infill gyroid patterns to see if it impacts the tire's performance or wear? Keep pushing those boundaries in the 3D printing racing world
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Old 11-20-2023, 09:25 AM
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Originally Posted by Andres L. Shaw
Those 3D printed tires look awesome, and the fact that they held up for 10 packs is impressive! It's fantastic that you've found a cost-effective way to customize your tires. Considering a harder rubber for the next set sounds like a smart move, especially for longer race days. Have you thought about experimenting with different infill gyroid patterns to see if it impacts the tire's performance or wear? Keep pushing those boundaries in the 3D printing racing world
The 3D printed tires are not FDM printed tires. I'm using a SLA resin printer for them, and this is very different story regarding supports and infill : the structure of the tire is just like a normal tire, it all depends the thickness you have applied in the model...
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Old 01-09-2024, 06:13 PM
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It's been a while but I'm back to making tires. I bought the trial kit of Smooth On PMC-780 dry. I called Smooth-On and asked them "what should I buy if I want Vytaflex 60 but in a higher shore rating" and PMC-780 dry was their answer. I've been working on some new carpet tread designs but in the meantime I ran off a set of front tires using my molds from last winter. This rubber cures to a transparent amber so I decided to make transparent tires just for fun. They're thin enough that they look more clear than amber, but the thicker pieces I've test molded do come out with a darker amber look to them. I also didn't cast these as 80A tires. I added in some So Flex II using a recipe on Smooth On's website that should result in a 73A shore rating. I molded some test pieces in 80A and it felt like it might be too hard. Anyway, here's the pictures of the tires mounted up and ready to go. I'll be running them on Friday night to see how they hold up to use.




And like I mentioned, I'm working on a new tread design. The spikes on my old design are a bit too tapered and I think that results in a less aggressive tread. I recently ran some Schumacher mini darts on my car and liked how locked in those tires felt, but I feel like they wear out pretty quick. The pin density on them is pretty low, and the carcass profile is pretty rounded. The inner rows of pins are worn down to nubs while the outer edges look like they still have tons of life left in them. In comparison, the worn out Fuzz Bites I have sitting around have a much flatter profile that allows for a more even wear rate across the entire width of the tire and they look more evenly worn as a result. So the tire I'm designing is going to have what I like best from each design - the flatter profile and densely packed pins of the Fuzz Bites combined with the big, sharp, aggressive pins of the Mini Darts.

One of the new tricks I've adopted as part of my design workflow is making these small little test mold samples. I can print them out in the exact same orientation as the final molds using the same print parameters and use them to cast small samples of the tires to see how the final design will look before fully committing to printing an entire mold and using a ton of resin to make the first test tire.



I've also been using the same little mold test piece to cast the same tread pattern out of different shore hardness rubbers so I can take the samples with me to the track and see how they interact with the carpet I'll be racing on. Pretty cool!
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Old 01-13-2024, 06:09 AM
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Race day was last night! I ran my front tires the whole night, took my test samples with me, and learned a bunch.

First, I wasn't sure if my front tires were going to grip as much as I wanted. The highly tapered pin design didn't provide as much grip as my samples when I tested them at home on the various rugs and carpets I have around my house. On the track, however, the tires definitely provided more than enough grip even as they wore down through the night. So that tells me I don't need to worry too much about trying to optimize grip with my tread design because even the old design which grips the least still provided more than enough grip.

Tire life with the 73A rubber was, I think, and improvement over my previous attempts with 60A. However, at the end of the night I still think there was more wear than I wanted. However, I ran roughly 3 or 4 practice packs before racing started, and I ran my car in both stock and mod buggy. So that's at least 10 runs in one night which is more than what most guys run a set of carpet tires. My next set of tires is going to be 80A because I really want to optimize for tread life. Anywhere, here's a picture I took showing the tires at the end of the night next to a brand new tire. You can see just how much they wore down.



I took 4 different tread samples with me to the track. The samples were the same in every way except the diameter of the pin - pin count, pin height, and pin taper angle were all the same between them. The pin sizes were 1.0mm, 1.25mm, 1.5mm, and 1.75mm. My two favorites were the 1.0mm and the 1.5mm - the 1.0's felt like they penetrated into the fibers the easiest, but the small pins were able to flex really easily and I think that might result in a squirmy/less precise feel to drive. The 1.5's were, I felt, still able to penetrate the carpet fibers well enough to create grip, but big enough not to flex. I also think they were just barely able to generate a bit more grip than the rest, though I think they were all very close and they all had significantly more grip than the fronts I raced with last night. Here's a picture of the samples I brought so you can see the different pin sizes:



So with all that testing done, I'm ready to finalize my tire design, print new molds, and make some tires to race with!
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Old 01-18-2024, 08:29 AM
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Good news and bad news.

First, good news! I printed the mold for my new tire design. I used a .25mm nozzle and .12mm layer height for the two outer molder halves and a 0.4mm nozzle and 0.2mm layer heights for the mold core. The prints came out great and I was able to cast my first tire. The tire is easily the best looking 1/10 tire I've ever made due to the high print quality settings I used. I also designed the tire to be as light as possible. I reduced the tire carcass thickness and scalloped the tire mounting bead the same way JConcepts does on their fuzz bites. My tire weights in at 26.5g which is quite a bit lighter than my previous attempts and 0.6g lighter than a fuzz bite.

Now for the bad news - I didn't wait long enough for the rubber to cure before trying to demold the tire and ended up ripping it in half. Oops. In my defense, I got away with it on the front tires I cast last week using my old molds. Oh well, live and learn. lol. I'm not racing this week so I don't need to rush to get these made.


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Old 01-18-2024, 04:57 PM
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THat does look awesome! Nice work
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Old 01-19-2024, 10:52 AM
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RC10Nick Thanks for posting all your work on making tires. I was able to design my own molds (using your guide) for rally car tires over the summer. They ended up working really well. I also molded inserts from Smooth-On FlexFoam X. I'd post pictures, but I can't yet.

Last edited by JEdward91; 01-19-2024 at 12:38 PM.
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Old 01-19-2024, 11:08 AM
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Originally Posted by JEdward91
RC10Nick Thanks for posting all your work on making tires. I was able to design my own molds using your guide for rally car tires over the summer. They ended up working really well. I also molded inserts from Smooth-On FlexFoam X. I'd post pictures, but I can't yet.
Wow, you're welcome, and that's amazing to hear! Is your stuff posted anywhere else? I'd love to see what you've done.

What did you think of the Flex Foam X? I haven't tried experimenting with foams yet so I'd really be keen to hear your thoughts - challenges you faced, how it compares to traditional open/closed cell inserts, etc.
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Old 01-19-2024, 11:48 AM
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Originally Posted by RC10Nick
Wow, you're welcome, and that's amazing to hear! Is your stuff posted anywhere else? I'd love to see what you've done.

What did you think of the Flex Foam X? I haven't tried experimenting with foams yet so I'd really be keen to hear your thoughts - challenges you faced, how it compares to traditional open/closed cell inserts, etc.

It's not posted anywhere, but I could post it on facebook.

Not sure how Flex Foam X compares to open or closed cell foam, but it seems to be about perfect for the rally tires. Other densities of Flex Foam are available- I chose X based on feedback from other racers.

They have 2 race days and a lot of practice laps on them, and they haven't broken down .

I found that I can only make one insert at a time because it foams up really fast.

It took a little trial and error to get the correct amount of material to fill the mold. I ended up using about 6ml of each part per insert.
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Last edited by JEdward91; 01-19-2024 at 06:11 PM.
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Old 01-20-2024, 05:49 AM
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Getting the density right seemed like the biggest challenge when I was looking into the expanding urethane foams - it seemed like it would be hard to get it consistently the same from insert to insert, or even within a single insert I thought there might be a chance it wouldn't come out uniformly dense and you'd get a severely imbalanced insert. Did you notice any problems like that, or does the foam do a good job of uniformly spreading out within the mold?
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Old 01-20-2024, 06:59 AM
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Originally Posted by JEdward91
It's not posted anywhere, but I could post it on facebook.

Not sure how Flex Foam X compares to open or closed cell foam, but it seems to be about perfect for the rally tires. Other densities of Flex Foam are available- I chose X based on feedback from other racers.

They have 2 race days and a lot of practice laps on them, and they haven't broken down .

I found that I can only make one insert at a time because it foams up really fast.

It took a little trial and error to get the correct amount of material to fill the mold. I ended up using about 6ml of each part per insert.
Looking forward to see pictures about those. That sounds very interesting. I just looked at SmoothOn product page, and will need to digg deeper on this topic...
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Old 01-20-2024, 08:23 AM
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Originally Posted by RC10Nick
Getting the density right seemed like the biggest challenge when I was looking into the expanding urethane foams - it seemed like it would be hard to get it consistently the same from insert to insert, or even within a single insert I thought there might be a chance it wouldn't come out uniformly dense and you'd get a severely imbalanced insert. Did you notice any problems like that, or does the foam do a good job of uniformly spreading out within the mold?
They seem pretty consistent. I use small disposable syringes to measure the amount of each part, and mix them in a shot glass sized plastic cup. I then pour the mix around the inside of the mold, trying to keep it even all the way around . I found that using enough material so that a little of the foam comes out the exhaust holes on the top of the mold works best.
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Old 01-20-2024, 08:28 AM
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Originally Posted by silvertriple
Looking forward to see pictures about those. That sounds very interesting. I just looked at SmoothOn product page, and will need to digg deeper on this topic...
I guess I can add pictures after making more posts.



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Old 01-20-2024, 08:36 AM
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Originally Posted by RC10Nick
Getting the density right seemed like the biggest challenge when I was looking into the expanding urethane foams - it seemed like it would be hard to get it consistently the same from insert to insert, or even within a single insert I thought there might be a chance it wouldn't come out uniformly dense and you'd get a severely imbalanced insert. Did you notice any problems like that, or does the foam do a good job of uniformly spreading out within the mold?
Also, The Smooth-On store gave me cured samples of the different densities of FlexFoam so I could compare the to inserts at the hobby shop.
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