Useful software for 'mould free' body work

Thought I'd share a useful bit of software...
There's currently a thread 'free to a good home' in which Crag Rat offered the use of their body shell mould, all well and good and very generous too, and it's now doing the rounds! If you can't wait for your turn to use the mould, I thought I'd share a useful bit of free software that will allow you to create a 3D shape of your own, then export the panels in 2D. You can get away with building a car without a mould!

Both RLR 2 and RLR 3 were built without the need for building a mould for the body work, and they both look a bit maritime. This is because the body shells were built using the 'stitch and glue' method of construction, originally developed for home builders to construct their own sailing dinghies like the Mirror, and many canoe designs.
Using free software called Free!ship (it's free! - download from many sites like this you can generate a 3D 'hull', which can be tweaked and manipulated into any shape you like. With the addition of creases or chines, and with each panel given its own layer, you can then instruct the software to 'develop plates' which will export 2D dxf files for each panel.

These files can then be cut using CNC router, although a full body shell will require a large bed - another opportunity to tap up a local business for support. Alternatively the panels can be cut into smaller sections on a school sized machine and then scarf jointed together.

Once you have the panels, it's really very straightforward to stitch the panels together with cable ties, then bond using a high strength resin and wrap in glass cloth etc...

The original body shape can then be exported as a 3D dxf or any number of alternatives for import into your chosen 3D design package, where a top down design can be carried out as you try to squeeze all the components of your car into the lovely shape you've just made.

The beauty of it all is the time, energy and money saved not building a mould. RLR 2 was stitched and glued in a single drop down day. RLR 2 is a 3mm plywood monocoque which is light and aerodynamic, and gave us 2nd overall at Rockingham last year. Some judicious strengthening is required, as unlike a canoe that has uniform support beneath from the water, your car is suspended between two points and needs to behave as a rigid beam.

Apologies to Mike who will now tell me Solid Edge can do all of this already (can it?)! Solid Edge will certainly be able to import the shape from Free!ship, and from that point the remaining design work can be carried out.

Producing a mould is still a great way of producing beautiful shapes (Dylan is looking ace), but this alternative is a lot quicker and easier imho...

Do come and see me at Rockingham if you want to chat about any of this...



  • Colour me intrigued - I'd definitely like to come and chat about this at Rockingham
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