Flyin’ Miata has long sold aluminum seal installers and a stainless-steel cam gear tool designed to keep everything in place during a timing belt service, but now, the company has an upgrade. Flyin' Miata just released a new line of those tools, which are now 3D-printed from carbon-reinforced nylon.
We’ve used the old aluminum and stainless-steel tools for years on countless Miatas, making short, foolproof work of some of the most frustrating jobs on the car. The good news is, these new products sound just as promising. These carbon-reinforced-nylon tools are just as tough as the old pieces, but lighter, less likely to be damaged in the event of a drop, and most importantly, $30 cheaper.
If you have an old set in the toolbox, you may notice that the new kit looks substantially different from the old aluminum pieces. According to Keith Tanner, the company’s resident guru, that’s because 3D printing requires a different mindset from milling hardware from metal stock.
“With printing, adding material takes time and costs money,” Tanner said. “With billet, it’s removing material that’s expensive.”
At the same time, the ability to produce the components in house means that Flyin’ Miata can quickly tweak the design. The new cam tool, for instance, is much thicker than the stainless steel piece, which means it can be used to hold the cams while you torque the cam bolts. The old part would fold in two, leaving you to wrestle a couple of wrenches while you fought with a torque wrench.
Brandon Fitch, an engineer with the company, said Flyin’ Miata added a MarkForged 3D printer to the shop back in January, intending to use the machine for prototyping, but quickly found that the carbon-reinforced nylon was up to the task of handling parts production, too.
The 3D printing began with something simple: a replacement for the often-broken end of early Miata dipsticks. From there, the project expanded to include replacement door bushings, formerly made of Delrin. Now, with the addition of the tool line, Flyin’ Miata has a total of three printers working around the clock.
Right now, that work is happening in garages at the homes of Flyin’ Miata employees. The company shut down its warehouse to protect its workers from COVID-19, but moved the printers off site to keep production rolling. If you want a set, shipping may be a bit delayed, but you can find out more on their site.
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