Designing parts at home; internet machine shops

Discussion in 'Technical Q&A' started by snj5, Jan 8, 2006.

  1. snj5

    snj5 F1 World Champ

    Feb 22, 2003
    San Antonio
    Full Name:
    Russ Turner
    #1 snj5, Jan 8, 2006
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 7, 2017
    I'm sure most of you probably know this, but I have found a couple of places on the net where you can download free CAD software, design a part, and then the machine shop will make it for you. I am currently trying this out. is the most capable, and I have seen where people have even had manifolds made. The software is not too hard to learn, although I am still learning it's myriad of possibilities. While most capable, the machining costs are not cheap for individual or small runs comparatively (but less expensive than a regular shop). also has free downloadable software, and is focused just on flat plates, therefore costs are a lot lower comparatively. It took me about 45 minutes of putzing with the software to learn how to use it (not being one to read the directions first)

    As example, the part I was interested in was the Mondial center switch panel. It is 1980s italian plastic, will often warp or discolor with time and distracts a bit from an otherwise very elegant interior. The price from Ferrari Uk for the new piece is about $250 + customs and shipping. Using frontpanelexpress, I am having a piece of aluminum made to replace it, complete with the engravings. Although also available in anodized black, I probably will get it in natural aluminum to match the shift gate. I may also delete the wacky cigerette lighter in favor of an american power plug, or delete it altogether. Yes, I will lose the backlighting, but I will gain a more stout piece, and I know where the switches are. The price? Right now, it looks like about $70 or so - a private machine shop had quoted me $300+.

    Here's the piece in the frontpanelexpress CAD that I did, and a close up showing the symbology engraving:
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