The EcoJet is a one-off, a hand-built concept car that houses a 650 horsepower helicopter engine powered by biodiesel. The result of a collaboration between General Motors and Honeywell, the coupe sports a hydroformed aluminum chassis and two fuel tanks—one for soybean oil and one for jet fuel.
It is, simply put, not the kind of car one takes into Pep Boys for a tune-up.
Fortunately, the auto's owner has a lot to work with. At last count, Jay Leno's garage was sporting somewhere in the neighborhood of 130 cars tended to by a staff of four full-time mechanics. Even still, the denim-clad comedian required a bit of extra help when the EcoJet's delicate vents broke off.
Leno employed the services of 3D printing pioneers 3D Systems for the project. The company scanned the broken vents into editable CAD models and printed them up via its Quickparts service using Selective Laser Sintering, an additive manufacturing technology that utilizes lasers to solidify powdered materials.
According to 3D Systems' account, the new versions of the vents actually improved upon their predecessors, with an improved strength-to-weight ratio courtesy of a lightweight fiber-filled nylon material.
"Jay Leno and his team are using our technology to its full potential: working seamlessly from digital file to physical part and back again as they enhance their designs, accelerate their production and improve product performance," the company's executive VP Cathy Lewis said in a statement provided to Tech Times. "That's really the magic of 3D design and fabrication: taking the ideal outcome and making it real, faster, and more efficient than ever before."
The process also cut the traditional manufacturing time from a week of hand-modelling to somewhere in the neighborhood of 30 minutes.
The former Tonight Show host was notably impressed with the results, "With 3D printing, the automotive industry has changed more in the last decade than it previously did in the last century."
In a video shot in Leno's garage, the comedian notes that he will also be employing the company's services to create replacement parts for his just slightly less rare (if considerably less horsepowered) 1922 ReVere.