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3d Printing - The current state of the art


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What is the current state of the art when it comes to 3d printing? I see lots of people dipping the odd toe in the water, but where has it got to? Can I goto a company and get a model of a loco body printed? Does anyone make freely available designs, either through Creative Commons, or similar?

 

What is the finish like on the models? Do different companies produce better finishes than others?

 

Thanks

 

J

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What is the current state of the art when it comes to 3d printing? I see lots of people dipping the odd toe in the water, but where has it got to?

 

It hasn't caught up with the hype yet and probably never will.

Can I goto a company and get a model of a loco body printed?

 

You mean like this? Yes if you are willing to put the time in learning how to produce the input files.

 

Does anyone make freely available designs, either through Creative Commons, or similar?

 

Try Thingverse, though I can't see much that would be of use to railway modellers.

 

What is the finish like on the models? Do different companies produce better finishes than others?

 

The finish depends on the type of machine used. No systems produce finish anything like sheet metal or injection moulded plastics. Some produce acceptably textured surfaces, other don't. There are companies who will supply pieces fully finished, but the finishing is all by hand and they will charge accordingly.

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As with many new fields it will take some time for the reality to catch up with the potential. 3D printing is good for basic shapes but the file complexity increases massively as you try to model more complex shapes.

 

Etched Pixels of this parish is trying a novel approach of using 3D printing to produce a basic shell onto which etched details are attached. His N gauge gresley suburbans are due to be on sale sometime soon and are probably the most advanced product I have seen for railway modelling to make use of 3D printing. He has also produced a GWR bullion van using the same technique.

 

http://www.rmweb.co.uk/community/index.php?/topic/53112-2mm-coach-experiments/

 

I suspect that this kind of hybrid technique will probably give the best results for the next few years as it makes best use of the relative strengths of different techniquews. At the moment, with 3D printing is difficult to produce fine detail and smooth surfaces, particularly in smaller scales.

 

I have also seen some nice models of specific prototypes such as Bowaters china clay slurry tanks. This works well as the main shape is a cylinder which is quite easy to do in CAD. Most railway vehicles have much more complex shapes. Just look as the CAD work being done on Dapol's Western to get an indea of the complexity involved.

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Nowadays it is not difficult to produce fine details and smooth surfaces with 3D printing technology (yes, there are still some limitations with lines, rivets etc, but not very much in 1:87 scale — limitations are much in same level as when you are making drawings for etching).

 

I have to say that the best ones are not cheap ones and these kinds of printings are not suitable for making individual model. But these printings are very good for origins to make molds for resin castings. Springing from high costs of printings the cost effective way is producing the small series kit by this way. The minimum run for small series kit is typically 100 pcs. The origin for this model (that is the small series kit of Finnish Intercity double deck coach in 1:87 scale) was made by Solidscape printer that uses wax. The wax printer produces fine details and smooth surfaces and it is also suitable material for making mold that is needed for resin castings. All parts (=the body, the underframe, buffers and some small details) for the kit were made by the same way. Origins for windowpanes are also 3D drawings, but windows are injection molded plastics in aluminium mold. The aluminium mold was made by CNC using our drawings for windowpanes.

 

Petri Sallinen

Helsinki, Finland

 

edready.jpg

ed3d.jpg

ed3da.jpg

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I had a browse through the shapeways "catalogue", and I found a lot of interesting models in all manor of gauges, but very few in 1:87. But what struck me, is that with a printer, surely the difference between making something in 1:87 and 1:160 should be very little, and just a case of putting a reduction factor in? Have I entirely misunderstood the technology?

 

J

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I have been on the Shapeways website and amazed as to how much railway stuff is available and I m sure it will be expanding quite quickly. Yes it is more expensive than ready to run but if people out there with CAD experience are happy to draw up body shells etc then this is going to be great for the hobby where manufacturers of ready to run do not see certain prototypes as viable. Might be at a price but is going to save a lot of modelling time especially wher teo or three models are required.

 

Ian

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Julia

 

No it may not just be a case of putting a reduction factor, it will depend on material requirements eg minimum wall thickness etc which may not scale well.

 

The other problem I have had in 2mm is that true scale detail can look wrong eg some grilles will physically print but will be almost indistinguishable to the eye, so the designer then has to decide whether to exaggerate the detail or not.

 

IMHO some of Dutch_Master's points are a bit off-beam. For any serious definition/resolution home 3D printing is out, we are paying companies to use their very expensive machines (though it isn't that long ago that laser printers were eye-wateringly expensive).

 

For surface detail in 2mm I wouldn't use anything worse than Frosted Ultra Detail (you may get away with less resolution on internal components) from Shapeways. Shapeways make things easy to work with and sell, but I wouldn't say they are at the top of the field. The best outputs I have seen are those posted by Hollywood Foundries which IIRC used Finelines in the USA. Interestingly there are some companies in the UK with the same machines as Finelines. I have heard quotes from someone who has used one of the UK companies as being 2-3 times that of Shapeways at which point you are at the point where the 3D print is the master and then you cast. With Shapeways you are on the boundary of direct printing vs print the master and cast (particularly for 2mm, in the larger scales you get hit with the cost of the printed material).

 

For anyone interested in 3D design we are running a couple of workshops at DEMU's Showcase on Saturday and Sunday (2-4pm both days). Details of the show here: http://www.demu.org.uk/showcase.php

 

Cheers, Mike

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The best outputs I have seen are those posted by Hollywood Foundries which IIRC used Finelines in the USA. Interestingly there are some companies in the UK with the same machines as Finelines.

 

Is it possible to post some links to these UK companies please Mike?

 

 

Regards

 

Dan

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Is it possible to post some links to these UK companies please Mike?

 

 

Regards

 

Dan

www.chrisjward.co.uk

www.practicalplastics.com

(One and same person)

 

 

Chris will be attending the Exeter 2012 Exhibition, although not with his printer but no doubt will be open to discussion.

As you see, a modeller with his own 3d printer, could be useful around this section.

Kev S

 

www.exemrs.co.uk

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www.chrisjward.co.uk

www.practicalplastics.com

(One and same person)

 

 

Chris will be attending the Exeter 2012 Exhibition, although not with his printer but no doubt will be open to discussion.

As you see, a modeller with his own 3d printer, could be useful around this section.

Kev S

 

www.exemrs.co.uk

 

Sorry, there is no way those parts shown on Chris webpage have been printed on a

. Thats the machine that Fineline Prototyping prints those green little wonders on.

 

BTW, I have got quotes for parts from FLP, and a part app. 2,5X60X25mm would cost a cool USD 190,-

 

I would love to be wrong, an alternative to FineLines rather stiff prices would be very welcome.

 

-Hawk

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The only UK company I know of that does only quotes for hi-res Viper work is idcModels

 

I requested a quote, and they seem to considerably less expencive than FineLine Prototyping

 

Quotes for the same part was:

idcModels: £ 83,5 (including VAT and £ 15,- postage)

FineLine Prototyping: £ 123,5 (postage and VAT not included, $190,-)

 

But note that the FineLine Prototyping part has a layer thickness of 0,025 mm compared to idcModels´ 0,05 mm layer thickness.

 

When we get this quality at Shapeways prices I think the use of 3D printing for modelling projects really will take off.

 

-Hawk

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Sorry, there is no way those parts shown on Chris webpage have been printed on a

. Thats the machine that Fineline Prototyping prints those green little wonders on.

 

BTW, I have got quotes for parts from FLP, and a part app. 2,5X60X25mm would cost a cool USD 190,-

 

I would love to be wrong, an alternative to FineLines rather stiff prices would be very welcome.

 

-Hawk

I think Chris uses an Objet printer (prints resin)

Chris is on RM WEB Somewhere

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I think Chris uses an Objet printer (prints resin)

 

Yes, thats right.

I got a quote for some parts from him, and he said he used an Objet printer.

 

The layer thickness is 0,028 mm, wich sounds promesing. But idcModels offer 0,025 mm on their Viper, so obviously there is more to this than layer thickness.

 

The price I got from Chris is far below those qouted in my earlier postings so I do not expect the quality to be in the same legaue. I will post pictures as soon as I have received a part.

 

-Hawk

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Yep

 

This is a quote from someone on a list for RP professionals, and it chime with my experience.

 

 

Depending on the resolution you're looking for, Objet could be an option

but despite even thinner layers (16 microns) the build lines are if

anything more visible than the EnvisionTec's this is because the layers

may be thin which looks impressive on the specification but the

alignment between layers is not sufficiently controlled meaning that

side walls end up as rough and uneven as my mother in-law's chin.

 

The Envisiontec machines will give give good quality builds, but they have a small build footprint and my experience is that they need a good deal of skill to position the supports and so complex finished pieces tend to be expensive.

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The current home print setups (Mendel/Huxley) are certainly up to the standard of Shapeways WSF providing you are not dealing with complicated support structures and you are not in a hurry. They need to be well set up and in the hands of someone with a bit of experience but they can delivery very high quality prints. There's not a nice cheap homebrew polisher yet, although I'm sure given an old spin drier and some O gauge ballast .....

 

There are various other things cooking in this space. Mendel can handle multiple extruders which means that the basis is now there for things like wax (or sugar) support as well potentially as doing two or three colour (I figure blue/yellow covers most of the 1970s 8-) )

 

There are other insanities going on too. It turns out you can extrude a lot of materials including solder, white metal, chocolate, sugar etc.White metal extrusion looks a particularly interesting opportunity for printing custom weight blocks, while a soldering head could in theory do stuff like PCB work.

 

The first homebrew UV printers are also starting to get kicked around based around abusing a DLP projector.

 

Interesting times all in all.

 

Alan (just started building his Mendel)

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As my first experimental dipping the toe into the world of 3d printing, I had a flick through the shapeways site, finding a lot of stuff in z gauge, and not a lot in H0/H0e. But I did find a nice set of H0e buffer stops which I ordered. They look quite nice, but I am not sure what to do by way of painting them...

BufferStops_sm.jpg

 

J

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Not a regular buyer of STUFF magazine, but this link was in there:

 

http://www.solidoodle.com/

 

 

It would have been nice if personal 3D printers costing about the same as a decent laser printer could be used for scale model parts.

 

Unfortunately, machines like the solidoodle is absolutely useless for our purposes.

 

Even the new (relatively) low-priced "Mojo" printers from Stratasys has a too low resolution (layer thickness of 0,1mm). And this printer costs € 7600....

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I received this N scale tank car in the post this week. Its in the frosted material and the detail is quite fine. just needs a light sanding with fine wet and dry then a spray primer.

 

I will add some internal bracing as the sides do squash in when lightly squeezed. The truck are off another vehicle.

 

Overall impressed so far with it. This will be added to the tank fleet on Banbury.

 

Ian

post-1557-0-11182800-1339574228_thumb.jpg

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My usual finishing is a good clean up (sometimes there is wax left) then either a couple of coats of games workshop white acrylic primer or for certain texures a thin brushing with water/pva/etc mix as used for ballasting, then the paint.

 

I've also got into the habit of letting the primer dry and then testing it with masking tape because I've had a couple of cases where I didn't get all the wax off and the paint duly fell off later 8(

 

You can also reshape fine bits like ladders that sometimes distort on printing by using hot water. About 60-70°C seems right. As it gets warmer it gets more pliable which makes drilling it possible and bending it safely. Using really hot water you can actually reshape parts permanently which is great if you need to put a bend in a 3d printed flat wall or similar.

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