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Thoughts on 3-D Printing?
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 Posted: Fri Jul 28th, 2017 03:08 am
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jtrain
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I've recently been looking at all the amazing stuff that can be made with 3-D printers. At the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, their 3-D printing students were working on different metal alloys for racecar parts.  Online there is a growing number of articles about 3-D printing for all sorts of uses, including model trains.
I'm of the opinion that this technology will soon be a game-changer.  If it can be designed, then it can be printed.  The ability to print in both plastic and metal means that even electronic parts could be printed (no solder joints).  If unit trains are your thing, you could have hundreds of identical cars printed and ready for paint, wheels and couplers.  Actually, wheels and couplers could be printed too!
Then there's the benefit that people who model obscure railroads or rare prototypes now have a tool to design and build, to prototypical accuracy, equipment that would be unique to their line. How about a Willamette shay-type engine?  Or an Alco 2-6-0 in S scale? A Northern Pacific Yellowstone?  Operating wig-wag signals?  Or how about a unique depot? Ooh, or even a scale coupler head that doesn't use a spring, it could be one piece? Or even steel or brass weights that fit under a loco shell like a glove, specific to a particular model, no wasted interior space.  DCC and Sound decoders could be printed right into the frame!
In small scales, entire railroad cars can be made in one or two pieces.  Heck, entire buildings could be built. In larger scales there will be more parts, but I envision being able to purchase an entire 3-D printed "kit" for a specific locomotive in On30. On3. or Fn3 scale.
Then there's economics:
The prices out of China are going up, and the prices of 3-D printing is going down.  At a certain point in the near future, the prices will meet and domestic 3-D printing could very well be the same price, or cheaper, than ordering overseas.  And there would be no minimum orders, no waitlists, no limited edition runs of a model.  So long as the file is available for purchase, anyone can have a model made.
Maybe the skill of future hobbyists won't be determined by how well they wield an Xacto blade, but rather how well they can design a model on a computer.
Of course, there still needs to be some experimentation to get the right type of plastic and the price of metal printers needs to come down... a lot.  But we're already at the point where a person can design and print whatever parts they may need for detailing or kit-bashing.  The really expensive part would be paying someone to design a prototype.
So that's my two cents, what does everyone else think of 3-D printing?
--James



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 Posted: Fri Jul 28th, 2017 03:31 pm
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W C Greene
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James, that sounds like the future...however when modelers no longer use Xacto knives, razor saws, and all the other hand tools then the hobby will have lost something, that may be soul! If you spend hours making CAD drawings and then printing up models, there seems to be no need for the important hand/eye coordination skills that have been at the heart of artistic expression for centuries. OK, so it can be argued that computer design and manufacture is an art but the ability to make something from nothing or next to nothing will be lost. The time will (maybe) come when we no longer need to even use our hands to design things and print, just think of what you want and it will be made...and made without "trial and error" and then we may find that we can live without hands or even feet. "Brave New World" becomes reality and everybody is happy, or not.
These views are just the ramblings from an old man who is being made as antiquated as the tools he uses.

To remember the comic Steve Martin on Saturday Night Live portraying "Yor-medievial barber surgeon"..."Someday there will be medical advances, new drugs to combat illness, new tools to help doctors, new...NAAAW!"

Woodie-keeping watch for dinosaurs at the cave entrance



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 Posted: Fri Jul 28th, 2017 04:27 pm
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Bob R
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Good topic to discuss.  I agree with both of you.  
3D has enabled me to find that little 3 Ton Bagnall "tea kettle" I was desiring.  Finishing it by adding the mechanism and RC gear and painting etc still required the hands on element of modeling.  In this case more of a kit bash than straight purchase. 
Another hobby is RC aircraft.  The proliferation of ready to fly models has resulted in a significant decrease in builders.  My observation is that many people now enter the hobby, stay a short time and get out.  I believe that is because they have nothing invested but money.  The satisfaction that comes from creating something through your own efforts is not only challenging but creates a bond with the hobby. 
The same is true in many hobbies.  All about "having" which often means buying, getting bored and moving onto another "have". 

Attachment: IMG_0777[1] (2).jpg (Downloaded 91 times)

Last edited on Fri Jul 28th, 2017 04:29 pm by Bob R



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 Posted: Fri Jul 28th, 2017 04:58 pm
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Si.
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As a keen 'silver' photographer, back in the day ...

... I just laughed at the ridiculously limited & crazily expensive Sony 'Mavica' digital-camera, when it came out.

A relatively short time later, Kodak was on it's knees, going, what the hell happened ?

They certainly didn't see that coming, even though they were in the business.

Much as I still love the sheer QUALITY of 'silver' photography ...

... would you get me off my cellphone & Lumix camera now ?

NO WAY !



Having said that ...

... as a music lover, MP3s iPods & downloads simply just SUCK ! in terms of sound quality.

We have used technology to achieve WORSE reproduction of music, not BETTER.

I can live with 'square pixels' ... I can't live with 'square sounds' !!

This is why I don't care much for teeny weeny digital train sound speakers either.



The best ( IMO ) digital sound chip ever, was made by Philips, in the mid '80s.

To this day, it beats the crap out of ANY modern digital studio equipment etc.

So why did they stop making it, for a 'better' one ?

It was too expensive to produce for consumer products & used too much power to operate.



Couple that lil' '80s sucker though, to an even older '60s vacuum-tube ...

... and THAT'S how to do it properly !

Progress ?





I have some very nice 1:35n2 Gilpin Tram trucks designed by Freerails Member Tom 'TeeBee'.

Without 3D-printing, I wouldn't.

I like 'em !



I still like getting splinters though.

Blood from 10A blades.

Paint fumes.

Placky kits.

Etc. etc.



A Brave New Whirled Odor indeed !



:old dude:


'60s  Si.



Use computers for what they are good at ... not what they aint.

&

DON'T get sucked into the 'virtual world' to the exclusion of REALITY.

I see many people daily, who HAVE been !

BEWARE !!




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 Posted: Fri Jul 28th, 2017 08:00 pm
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bobquincy
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I use 3D printing to get parts that I could not make with machining or fabrication. It is a tool, a good one that goes along with my others from the X-acto knife and files to the mill and lathe. Since I am not good with designing body shells for locomotives and such my 3D work is mostly chassis and running gear. My N scale monorail chassis is completely 3D printed as are my belt drive conversions for Disney's monorail models. Speaker housings, circuit board brackets, repair parts, pulleys, wheels, some detail parts, ... 3D printing even works well for some fixturing for milling. The limits of (inexpensive) 3D printing have shown up, wheels may not be quite round and require drilling/truing on a lathe. Screw threads are not feasible for now, any holes that require a precision fit have to be drilled/reamed. Still, the time savings is big, especially for any parts that have to be made in quantities greater than one. I would not be able to sell my creations without 3D printing! Models with low demand are not likely to be offered by the big companies, 3D printing by enthusiasts is our best chance to get the rare and obscure models. Shapeways has a large store presence with plenty of niche models (NY or Philly subways anyone ?). Yes, there is the learning curve (my more than 10 years of 3D CAD experience certainly helps) and any loss of traditional modeling techniques would be sad but again, this is just another tool. One that opens up a lot of new opportunities.

Actually this is not off-topic, it is modeling building aids and scratch building techniques.

Last edited on Fri Jul 28th, 2017 08:04 pm by bobquincy



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 Posted: Sat Jul 29th, 2017 03:37 am
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jtrain
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Thanks for the input, I think we could get pages worth of discussion on something like this.
Here's a follow-up in regards to 3D printing vs scratchbuilding:
I guess I don't see what the problem is.  Those who want to scratchbuild will scratchbuild, those who like resin kits will buy resin kits, and those who want 3D printed items can turn to 3D printing.
I'm just betting that most people will eventually opt for 3D printing because it has the potential to be convenient, cheap, and capable of turning out anything one imagines possible.
--James 



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 Posted: Sun Jul 30th, 2017 12:33 am
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Si.
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Having been very positive about the nice 3D-printed 1:35n2 trucks I have ...

... the down-side is this.



In terms of the actual 'real modelmaker' ...

... 3D-printing is pretty much totally useless ...

... unless you are able & willing to plow tons of your modelling time into sitting in front of a screen.

That's if you can understand & operate the massively complex software of course.



Gimme some styrene sheet, brass tube, a fistful of NBWs & a couple of hours ...

... and I've probably got the job done already, no problem.



:mex:



Si.



Imagine trying to 3D-print a 500 part 1:35 Caterpillar D7.

It's basically impossible, more or less.

The placky kit for 20 quid, is gonna be a far superior product, whatever way you look at it.



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 Posted: Sun Jul 30th, 2017 01:05 am
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pipopak
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At some point somebody will start selling download-able customizable files that we lowly mortals could tweak a little to suit our personal level of fetishism without losing what little sanity we already have. Ideally parts to add to an existing kit.
Jose.



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 Posted: Sun Jul 30th, 2017 03:12 pm
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Kitbash0n30
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In science fiction miniatures gaming 3D printing allows for short runs of spaceship miniatures which it would not otherwise be economical to produce.
Over in Early Rails Yahoo Group people use 3D printing for things such as roof styles not offered, alternate boiler designs for Mantua's General, windows for buildings, so forth and so on.
Either on Large Scale Central, or the Gn15 forum, or both, members have been working on 3D printed figures.



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 Posted: Thu Aug 10th, 2017 07:58 am
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Brian S
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Hello all, this is actually something I have a bit of insight on.

First off you all seem to be treating 3D printing as a stand alone process rather than a tool in a larger process.  What if rather buying a kit you printed out your own kit that to work on.  Flat panels tend to work far better with printers (no overhangs to go all screwy on you).  I know that the hobby is full of older people who have their preferred methods, but CAD is incredibly fast once you rap your mind around the idea.

As for the lack of available files, the levels of fetishism in this hobby should start to tackle the problem as time goes on.

On a side note laser cutters are pretty cool...

-BS

Last edited on Thu Aug 10th, 2017 09:33 am by Brian S

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