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How does Jay Leno get parts for his one-of-a-kind concept car? 3D printing, of course

The former talk-show host and massive car geek relies on new manufacturing techniques to provide parts you can't just pick up on Alibaba.

3D Printed Car Part
Instead of taking days to model and reproduce by hand, Leno's replacement vent went from computer model to tangible part in less than an hour.
YouTube screengrab via 3D Systems

If you can whip up a computer-aided drawing of a car part, there's a good chance that you can have it 3D printed.

This new type of manufacturing process can help folks source replacements that otherwise might not exist. That's exactly how 3D printing is helping out unabashed car-guy Jay Leno.

Tech Times talked to the company that Leno relies on, 3D Systems, about how it's able to create parts when no actual replacement parts exist. The process is relatively straightforward -- after scanning the broken part and creating a computer-aided model, the 3D printer uses that model to construct a faithful replica.

In the case of Leno's one-off, biodiesel-jet-engine-powered EcoJet, he needed some replacement vents. The company used a process called selective laser sintering, which uses a laser to turn powder into a solid form. It's the same procedure that Audi utilized when creating its 1:2-scale Auto Union race car.

The process is much faster than any other method of recreating unique bits -- it took 3D Systems about half an hour to cook up a new vent. It actually improved the part, as well -- the company used a different material, making the replacement part stronger and also lighter. Of course, it's not exactly cheap, but considering Leno hires four full-time mechanics to work in his garage, we bet The Chin doesn't have a problem ponying up the additional coin.