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3D Printing a Horse Trailer: What Led to It?

Last updated October 23, 2023 by Brad Heath

The world's first 3D-printed horse trailer is patent pending by Double D Trailers. Out of all the questions that arise when you first hear about a horse trailer being 3D-printed, the first question is often really simple: Why? If that was the first question that popped in your brain - you’re definitely not alone. Since traditional manufacturing works just fine; it’s normal to wonder why in the world anyone would want to print a 3D horse trailer in the first place.

Brad Heath, Double D Trailers owner, has been manufacturing horse trailers for over 20 years. Throughout the years, Brad has seen problems in the horse trailer industry and made it his goal to create solutions for them.

Some of the features that Brad and the Double D Trailers team have worked diligently to create over the years include:

  • SafeBump®️ Roof System: A heat-resistant, leak-proof, fiber composite trailer roof material designed to keep your horse safe in the event that they spook and rear up.

  • SafeKick®️ Wall System:  A protective trailer wall system created of a mix of plastic and Polylite materials. This blend of materials is much more flexible than traditional rubber trailer wall liner, keeping your horse injury free when they kick and paw against the trailer wall.

  • Z-Frame®️ Technology: Z-Frame Technology is a unique construction method used in building the chassis and interior dividers of a horse trailer. Z-Frame is made with a combination of zinc and chromate metals. In comparison to traditional trailer building materials like steel or aluminum, Z-Frame is much stronger, safer, more lightweight, and rust-free.

The most notable evolution in the horse trailer manufacturing industry to come from Double D Trailers is our patented SafeTack®️ Reverse horse trailer design. The SafeTack®️ design offers a bright and wide open loading and unloading area for your horses with an enclosed tack compartment that swings out of the way completely, acting as your second door. In comparison to conventional slant load horse trailers, the SafeTack®️ Reverse trailer layout allows for easier and safer horse loading and traveling.

As you can see, Double D Trailers is no stranger to invention. In recent years, Brad has faced many challenges in the manufacturing industry that led him to pursue the 3D-printed industry.

Problems with Traditional Horse Trailer Manufacturing 

Although there is an extensive list that could be put together, Brad highlighted that there were a few crucial problems in his own manufacturing experience that led him to the world of 3D printing.

  • Supply chain challenges.

  • Long lead times for customers.

  • The negative environmental impact of manufacturing plants.  

  • Design limitations with conventional manufacturing methods. 

#1: Supply chain challenges.

Every one of us have been impacted by supply chain shortages within the last few years. If you’re a consumer; you’ve probably noticed stocking shortages in the grocery store, inflation on pricing in every industry, or seen that your Amazon package no longer arrives in 2 business days. If you’re on the manufacturing side of things; you know that manufacturers are no longer able to deliver materials to customers in a timely manner. There are shipping delays and shortages being felt within all aspects of the construction and manufacturing industries. 

In his personal experience, Brad states that, “The factory has struggled to get building materials on time. For example, we’ve seen horse trailer windows being out of stock for months - which means that we can’t finish a trailer. And trailer awnings have been experiencing huge shortages… We have had trailers finished and customers waiting for an awning to arrive so that we can install it on their trailer.”

Of course, with all the shortages, it’s no surprise that this has turned into a “cause and effect” scenario, resulting in long lead times for horse trailer customers. 

#2: Long lead times for customers

Up until recent years when the pandemic hit and our efficient supply chain effectively dissolved, Double D Trailers was able to offer custom-built horse trailers to customers and have them completed within a couple months. Here at Double D Trailers, our main mission is to provide innovative and safe horse trailers for our clients. The reason that we specialize in custom horse trailers is that we are able to give clients everything that they want and need in a horse trailer. So - when a customer comes to us and figures out exactly what they want, it’s a gut-punch to have to tell them that we are close to a year out on production. Although the supply chain has stabilized some, the factory is so backed up on production that things have not returned to normal, and it’s likely to be years before we see any type of “normalcy” in traditional manufacturing.

#3: The negative environmental impact of manufacturing plants  

According to many scientific studies including a recent one by Penn State University (Facelle, 2017), the eruption of the manufacturing industry in the United States is one of the main reasons that we have seen a decline in the eco-friendliness of our population. Factories create not only pollution to our air; but to the land as well. 3D printing offers a much smaller carbon footprint and wastes less overall energy in comparison to standard manufacturing plants. In addition, the materials used in producing the first 3D-printed horse trailer are much more sustainable. 

#4: Design limitations with conventional manufacturing methods 

Brad states, “If you look at a horse trailer built 30 years ago and a horse trailer built today, they all look pretty much the same.” With design improvements in almost every area of our lives including our smartphones and devices, our homes, and our automobiles, it doesn’t make sense why there is no room for modifications when it comes to horse trailers as well. For horse owners, horse trailers often act as a home-away-from-home. For years, Brad has been dreaming of a much more modern horse trailer design that aligns with the technological advancements in design that we’re seeing in every other industry today. With traditional manufacturing materials and methods, this contemporary design shift is just not possible.

Next Topic: 3D-Printed Horse Trailer Safety and Other Logistical Details

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