Reinventing the Wheel

I always say that we're living in the future, we just haven't realized it yet. More proof comes out of this report by Steve DaSilva over at Jalopnik. It recounts  Jón Schone’s attempts to 3D print a Mercedes wheel that would actually work on his car. He started it back in 2020 and only recently got it to function somewhat.

Not only did the wheel support the weight of the Mercedes and the pressure of an inflated tire, it held up to driving, turning, and stopping. It may not quiteclear the Mercedes’ front calipers, judging by all the scraping sounds, but it worked fine when wrapped around the smaller rear brakes.


This is super interesting because 3D printing can be seen in two ways. A lot of it is a niche technology that has not (and in my opinion will never) become something in every home. The other way is a niche technology that can greatly benefit industries and small businesses with purpose-built manufacturing.

I've had a 3D printer for many years and I can easily say it's not for prime time. You need to be a tinkerer to really get any use out of them. It's great to model "things" and create them on your desk. It's even better to quickly (relatively speaking) print parts for things you can't get or are very expensive. Does Schone's 3D printed wheel mean we're going to have those in the future? No. But what if you needed a part for a car that could be printed with materials that would make the finished piece safe for a vehicle? Especially with cars that are from long-gone brands?

All of this is more proof-of-concept than anything, but in twenty years, all this tinkering can have immense benefits to applications we haven't even dreamt up yet.