How do they make custom tail lights?

I’m curious about how they make those flashy custom tail ligthts for Hondas, Acuras, Lexus(es?), etc. I’m asking 'cus I know injection molding isn’t cheap and there must not be that big of a market for them. How are they able to make in such small volume and still look so cool?

buy a set of OEM (original equipment manufacture) components, take them apart, digitize them, send the data to China, wait three weeks, and VIOLA!!! taillights molded in any color configuration you want. … .

or, jsut send the OEM parts to China, along with a check. … .

Thanks guest, although I’m not rally sure how helpful your answer was. Anyway, I was thinking that one could possibly make custom tail lights out of cast resin. Anyone ever tried this before? Thanx!

I think you need to clarify a bit, do you want to know the whole manufacturing process? Or do you want to know a way to create a tail light in your kitchen?

I despise cast resin…I can never get consistent results with it. If you’re going to cast stuff anyway, I would suggest crystal clear from smooth-on, at least it’s more predictable…from my small experience.

I think the misunderstanding is in the size of the market. Automotive aftermarket is a huge business. There are lots of cars made and this age group spends a big chunck of money on their car to personalize it.

to combine two points that have already been made, i will say

aftermarket modding is huge business (SEMA)
producing things in china is cheap (real cheap)

yes, Boomer, you can make taillight assemblies out of cast resin but they probably wouldn’t survive long on the automobile.

the available resins are just not up to the task of surviving the heat, road vibration, and prolonged exposure to UV that a street vehicle would see.

resin is fine for limited-use prototyping (although archaic) or custom or showcar work … problem is … if someone else will sees them wants some(and you can count of this), then you’re back into the original loop … but that’s YOUR call.

the optics involved with modern lenses is another story.

If you are prototyping then SLA is best way to do this. I have a client who specialize in OEM automotive lense design. We prototype the parts for them, clear lenses, tinted lenses, and we plate the reflectors as well. Some of our prototypes were at the Detroit, Tokyo, and Berlin car shows.

For the purpose of prototyping lenses for presentation models and optics testing, SLA far surpasses any cast resin techniques.

However if you are wanting to produce for limited sales, find an injection molder who will run short run “prototype” molds. This process can get you 5k-10k parts from a mold. The molds are made in one of two ways depending on size and detail of part, SLA or SLS with a metal impregnated resin. Then the resin is burned out leaving the metal behind. Then the molder can use these molds to shoot the parts.

But is you are looking to sell nationally or trying to get product in the catalogues, I would suggest finding the money to have production tools built, and having a company specializing in the optics design the reflector portion of the lenses, or purchase the 3rd party plug-in for SW or Pro. After all there are numorous DOT regulations and specifications to adhear to.

Now that I read over the original posting. The cosmetic automotive aftermarket is huge, @ $3 billion industry in the US and Canada alone. Every lense combination you see in a cataloge will sell 50,000-100,000 units each.

Aside from the toy industry this is the most lucritive industry as far as lowcost products with high ROI. That is why new companies are poping up on a daily basis.

Even the major manufacturers are getting into it by producing there own aftermarket lines. Shoot, I get this 20-30 page catlogue every 3 months from Mopar. And it is only aftermarket parts and clothing for my RAM SRT-10, my brother gets a completly different one for his Neon SRT-4.