John Tupper talks with specialist supplier and enthusiast and 3D printing expert Joschka Röben about the Röben Company (www.roeben-3d.de), and how he came to be manufacturing and supplying parts for Rolls-Royce and Bentley cars. Plus, we talk about his own car and his background. You may know Joschka from his frequent activity in the Rolls-Royce and Bentley forums and groups, and also from industry events, and magazines for which he has now written several articles!
Some of you will know Joshua from his Facebook posts, but also he's written a couple of articles about his car and the history of the car itself and how he came to own it and what he's since done with it. That's in the Spirit and Speed (the English version) and also in the German RREC magazine.
Joschka started engineering at university. and then started working and getting experience. Then was able to purchase the car of his dreams which was actually a Jaguar, thanks to its four distinctive headlights.
Then he happened to find a really nice Bentley Turbo R in Germany, which is the car that is featured in the magazines!
Getting to Know His New Turbo R
Usually if you buy a car like this it's going to cost you a lot of money. It's a real nice hobby but will cost you a lot!
When Joschka visited the previous owner, he happened to lose one of the wheel caps that covers the lock. He had just happened to buy a 3D printer at that time and used it as a winter project to recreate the cap.
Then he started to reproduce them and posted on Facebook and other social media platforms and caught the attention of some specialists like IntroCar.
The plan was then to continue as a small side business but two years on, In 2022, Joschka's employer was bankrupt. He took the chance to fund his own business because in the meantime he had begun to introduce more parts in collaboration with IntroCar.
Founding the Röben Company
Joschka had been an employee for 3 years, and self employed for the same amount of time so had a good comparison of the difference at this point!
He went through the specialists in the industry magazines and approached them to sell products and he received a response from Anders Rohdin from Rohdins Classic Cars in Sweden (https://www.rohdinsclassiccar.se/) - one of the Prestige Parts® resellers.
Joschka realised that this 3D printing technology would suit the kind of volumes needed for the Rolls-Royce and Bentley aftermarket as it was key to providing technical solutions to problems.
Using Modern Technology to Develop Aftermarket Parts for Rolls-Royce & Bentley
Many may think that with 3D printing one can scan a product, press print on your 3D printer and there it is! But, of course it is not like that at all.
If you consider the wheel lock covers... (UR73195, RH20136, UR71751, UV10646PA, UT10700) there is a chrome finish on plastic. In order to Chrome a part, the 3D printing process happens before the chrome which is dependant on a CAD design, starting with a scan or a model creating a digital file which goes to print. Following that most importantly is the post processing.
This example is the gearbox seat cover (UB39167CS) for the Rolls-Royce Silver Spirit, Silver Spur and Bentley Eight models. The gears sit in here enabling the seat to be adjusted in different ways and is no longer available any more from Bentley.
They tend to crack partly because of age, but also because there can be fouling in the mechanism. They are not suitable for injection molding due to the cost of the tools versus the numbers required for the aftermarket, which is where 3D printing can come in as a useful manufacturing technique.
This product is a perfect replica of the original and can be swapped in, that's just how precisely they've been made. It really is a nice product and solves a problem, which is exactly what is needed.
Next is a seat switch assembly (PM22514TG) - a similar switch is used on the lumber supports and the electric windows and more - used on Silver Seraph and Arnage models. This type of switch design is used all over the car. Usually it would need to be replaced entirely if it breaks.
The bit that breaks is in fact a little toggle beneath the switch thanks to a weakness in the plastic. Joschka recreated the toggle, and they are actually stronger than the original.
These assemblies can cost - depending on which particular - can cost £300 to £800 plus. The only reason it is replaced is because of this toggle! So it's a really nice, elegant solution.
From both a financial and envoronmental point of view it would make sense to replace only the toggle rather than the entire unit.
This little clip, for the Bentley Continental GT trim (GTTRIMCLIP1), when broken, had to be replaced with an entire new trim because the clips weren't available separately. Now Joschka has manufactured the clip available independently for the trim which is a much more sensible option!
This lens for the capping rails (UD4934) on the Rolls-Royce Silver Clouds, Phantoms and Bentley S-Types is a lens that is often broken as the originals are just so old now. This has been now faithfully reproduced by Joschka.
This little gear selector indicator (UR20001) used to be £100 from Bentley for Rolls-Royce Silver Shadows and the Silver Spirit series. Joschka has now reproduced that for us also.
Next the small window brake pad (UB14019) on the Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow series. It functions like a little clutch on the electric window. These tend to break and were not available from Bentley.
A very new product is the Brake Reservoir Float & Magnet Assembly (UR18259) on Rolls-Royce Silver Shadows. It has a magnet inside and goes up and down on a reed switch. As the fluid level in the brake reservoir drops, the magnet creates a contact in the Reed switch, which puts on dash warning light. This was originally designed as two shells but over time they actually leak and of course the light stays on. The interesting thing about 3D printing is that this can now be made as one piece.
One of the advantages of 3D printing is that you can design parts differently to fulfil the same function. In this instance instead of molding this part, you're actually adding layers of material so it can be one piece and it will never, ever leak.
It is another example of something not being available from Bentley and it's becoming harder and harder to find second hand.
Parts which are reviewed in this interview include:
- UB39167CS-X : Electric Seat Adjustment Motor Casing
- PP55408PANB-X : Heated Mirror Glass
- UR71751CHR-X : Wheel Lock Covers (Chrome)
- UR73195-X, RH20136-X, UR71751-X, UV10646PA-X, UT10700-X : Wheel Lock Covers
- PM22514TG-X: Actuating Lever Microswitch
- PM22514DS-X, PM108175DS-X : Switch Pack Dust Seals
- UR20001-X: Gear Selector Pointer
- UB14019-X: Window Lift Mechanism Brake Pad
- GTTRIMCLIP1-X: Door Trim Retaining Clip
- UD4934-X: Interior Dashboard Capping Lens
- RH12590/1-X & RH12592/3 : Air Intake Replacement Grilles
- RH12590-3KIT : Air Intake Replacement Grilles Kit
- UR18259-X: Brake Reservoir Float & Magnet Assembly
- HEATED MIRROR GLASS CONVEX (RH, LESS BEZEL) Prestige PartsSpecial Price £62.65 Regular Price £62.65