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Thread: Can 3D Printing be used for Smaller N Scale Models - An Investigation

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    Wow - after playing with the settings in Cura (the slicing program) I got a decent rendition of the VW motor (had no VW to set it against so used another model). After some careful clean-up I think it will be acceptable. Is it perfect? No, but let's get real - this is amazing for this type of printer. And really - is anyone really going to examine it with an electron microscope on the layout? OK don't answer that ...

    How about that RailKing50?
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    OK. Here we go

    I've been putting together 3D models of tanktainers and having them printed by Shapeways. The results are fairly good but there are some limitations not least the cost but also how difficult it is to clean the models correctly when they are quite delicate, so I've become curious about what other printers can do.

    Here is an N scale tanktainer frame:

    Tanktainer Frame 1.jpg

    Some of the problems I'd been running into with the "complete" frames made me wonder if it might be worth trying a kit version of a tanktainer frame so then I came up with this. I haven't actually had this one printed by Shapeways yet as it's fairly recent and money has been tight:
    Tanktainer Frame 2.jpg

    Parts of these models are right at the limits of what Shapeways can do with their machines regards thickness of some of the parts so I'd be interested to see what an FDM machine with a 0.2mm nozzle can achieve.

    The other interesting challenge is the fact that I use FreeCAD. FreeCAD does have an analysis tool that appears to fix problems with .stl files but every time I load something to Shapeways it seems to do a lot of 'fixing' before I can send things to print so it'd be interesting just to see whether the mesh files (.stl) are actually sound and that they work with propriety software (other CAD packages, slicer software and 3D printers) without problems.

    Simon
    http://nscalenotes.com/
    My blog real-World locations that might make interesting layouts, modules or dioramas.

    Find out more about my N scale 3D printed tanktainer models:
    http://nscalenotes.com/category/mode...ng/3dprinting/


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    Quote Originally Posted by NScaleNotes View Post
    OK. Here we go

    I've been putting together 3D models of tanktainers and having them printed by Shapeways. The results are fairly good but there are some limitations not least the cost but also how difficult it is to clean the models correctly when they are quite delicate, so I've become curious about what other printers can do ...
    I looked at your web page and I don't see why they couldn't be printed by the machine I have. I do not think the structure is too small at all. However, I can't try anything without an .stl file to try. All I can do is speculate. If you want to send me just a part of the structure to try, send it to the email address I will send you in a PM. Otherwise it's all speculation.

    Also, the structure can be done in parts and glued together, but you can't use the type of solvent we use on styrene. It could be CA or this stuff, which I use for PLA -

    https://scigrip.com/assets/tds/3_TDS-0517.pdf

    So, I'll wait on a file for 24 hours because I want to change the nozzle back, if you don't want to share at least part of a file to try we'll never really know ...

    I also need to hear from RailKing50 if he wants to try any more or if he's going to mow buy a 3D printer.

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    @NScaleNotes sent me some of his test files. The first one tackled was a frame. This one was not too difficult. It required a few supports as you can see in the pics. As it was flat it came out pretty nice. The next file will be much harder.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nskale View Post
    Wow - after playing with the settings in Cura (the slicing program) I got a decent rendition of the VW motor (had no VW to set it against so used another model). After some careful clean-up I think it will be acceptable. Is it perfect? No, but let's get real - this is amazing for this type of printer. And really - is anyone really going to examine it with an electron microscope on the layout? OK don't answer that ...

    How about that RailKing50?
    Wow, you have been busy @Nskale!

    Those shelves look great! The VW motor looks to be the right size. I agree, with some cleanup and paint, it would look awesome in my VW mechanic's shop!

    I'll see what other designs that I have that the new nozzle may be suited for.

    How about those Whistle Posts in the meantime?

    -Bo
    Bo D.
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    I think this is going to revolutionize N scale in the next 10 years or so. Printers are clearly "there", and will only get better and cheaper. What's really needed is a forum with a great way to share the designs, organize and catalog them.
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    Leo Bicknell

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    FYI, I'm particularly interested in the soon to be out Form 3. It brings a wide range of materials, and a much smaller printing size into a ALMOST affordable package.

    https://formlabs.com/3d-printers/form-2/

    With the Form 3, the xy is 25 microns, and the laser is 85 microns big. Compared to the 2mm (200 microns) nozzle used for the prints above it's more than double the resolution. For your bulktainers, the ability to use a ceramic substrate which can be fired in a kiln looks very promising. That should make an extremely rigid and durable model.

    Of course the pre-order is $9,999, so I don't expect anyone to be buying it for hobby use just yet. But that's a price where someone could have a business churning out N scale models and make a profit, I think. And in ~5 years that tech is likely to be priced where a high end hobby user could buy it.
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    Quote Originally Posted by RailKing50 View Post
    Wow, you have been busy @Nskale!

    How about those Whistle Posts in the meantime?

    -Bo
    See pic. The posts look fine, but the "W" will not reproduce. You could use a decal or paint it on.
    @NScaleNotes -

    Look at the pics. The problem with your initial design is that the printer will not make a tall or up-angled thin beam very well. I could have used supports but the beams are so fragile I didn't think I could pull them off without damage.

    However, it's simply a matter of making the model in several parts that lay flat. if you do that, they look great. I cut the model in Tinkercad so we had several parts and you can see they came out fine. Just glue together. I didn't do the whole model because you can extrapolate from this point.

    So, IMHO we mostly have had success with these tests. I mean - it's a $275 printer! If you make the model, keeping in mind how the machine works best, you will get a lot of use out of it for this hobby.

    I have a few things to try for this thread today. After that, I'm going to change the nozzle back to 0.4mm, so I can print some custom guitar picks for my nephew.
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    Cool. Thanks for running those tests Nskale.
    I think kit form is looking like the way to go with these as they've printed remarkably well. Plus flat and kit form works better for making resin cast masters anyway.

    Sounds like you didn't have any issues with the .stl files either which is reassuring and a for FreeCAD.
    Good to know if/when the time comes to buy my own printer or send these files to another (non-Shapeways) print service then it looks like they should work fine. It does raise the question what on Earth is Shapeways doing to the files 'to fix them' when I upload them there though.

    Simon
    Last edited by NScaleNotes; 29th Apr 2019 at 05:24 PM. Reason: Forgot something
    http://nscalenotes.com/
    My blog real-World locations that might make interesting layouts, modules or dioramas.

    Find out more about my N scale 3D printed tanktainer models:
    http://nscalenotes.com/category/mode...ng/3dprinting/


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    Quote Originally Posted by NScaleNotes View Post
    Sounds like you didn't have any issues with the .stl files either which is reassuring and a for FreeCAD. Good to know if/when the time comes to buy my own printer or send these files to another (non-Shapeways) print service then it looks like they should work fine.
    Nope, no issues at all.

    It does raise the question what on Earth is Shapeways doing to the files 'to fix them' when I upload them there though.



    One last question remains ...

    Is RailKing50 going to buy a 3D printer?

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    @Nskale

    'Tis a good question indeed. The likelihood is strong.

    Before I answer, may I ask what improvements/parts did you put onto your printer? From my research, I am reading of a number of ways to improve this printer.
    Bo D.
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    I'm not allowed to shoot off steam, nor even clang the bell. But let the damned Train jump the track, and see who catches hell!


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    Quote Originally Posted by RailKing50 View Post
    @Nskale

    Before I answer, may I ask what improvements/parts did you put onto your printer? From my research, I am reading of a number of ways to improve this printer.
    Examine the two pics. All of the red attachments were "improvements" that were printed on the printer, from the many free files you can get on Thingaverse -


    https://www.thingiverse.com/

    Things such as: cable clips, cable train for the rear cable that goes to the bed heater, extruder knob, Z axis knob, camera mount for the Raspberry Pi camera (more on that below), filament guide before the extruder, new cooling vent for the part cooling fan, many more you can print.

    The extruder mechanism was upgraded to this one you can get from many suppliers on Ebay -


    Aluminum Extruder


    Octoprint is a program you can get to control the printer from your local computer or over the internet both from a WiFi connection.


    https://octoprint.org/

    You buy a Raspberry Pi and load the Octoprint image on it. You can see the Pi in the second pic at the front of the printer. Then you can use your computer to load files to the printer over WiFi instead of the SD card. Also, you can view the print job if you leave the house and actually cancel it if the job goes bad from your smartphone. That's what the Pi camera is for - so you can see the job in progress.

    Also there are a zillion You Tube help tutorials for ANYTHING at all to do with this printer.




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    How about a RR Crossing stencil can’t find one any where.

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    Quote Originally Posted by S ARR T 8 View Post
    How about a RR Crossing stencil canít find one any where.
    It's been done. They are on Shapeways for sale. But how to do it easily? Apparently like this -

    https://engineerdog.com/2018/01/18/h...rintable-file/

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    I can’t find them on shape way.

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    Quote Originally Posted by S ARR T 8 View Post
    I can’t find them on shape way.
    I think they are all for other scales than N. I'm just saying it has been done, and if you can find the actual .stl file for a template for ANY scale it's a very simple matter to re-size the .stl file for our scale. But on Shapeways they're selling so you ain't gonna get a free template there. It might be out there on the internet in other places though.

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    I'd have thought something like a stencil would be better suited to etching or decals.
    Much crisper edges and both etches and decals are flexible whereas a 3D print would be rigid.

    Here's an example of decals I found: https://www.ebay.com/itm/SCALELIKE-I...-/253361667619

    Simon
    http://nscalenotes.com/
    My blog real-World locations that might make interesting layouts, modules or dioramas.

    Find out more about my N scale 3D printed tanktainer models:
    http://nscalenotes.com/category/mode...ng/3dprinting/


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    Quote Originally Posted by Nskale View Post
    asked me to see if several of the models he would have had done by Shapeways could be done by the printer I now have - a Creality Ender 3D Pro
    What drew you to this particular printer? I've been looking online for about 15-20 minutes here and there for the past few days and holy cow does it get overwhelming fast. I hate how if you search for information on the internet you instead get bombarded with ads. They do not help. They say I should buy ALL of the brands because they are all THE best one.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bronman View Post
    What drew you to this particular printer? I've been looking online for about 15-20 minutes here and there for the past few days and holy cow does it get overwhelming fast. I hate how if you search for information on the internet you instead get bombarded with ads. They do not help. They say I should buy ALL of the brands because they are all THE best one.
    One of my friends has a friend who lives up the street from him. He knew I was looking at getting one and said if I wanted to, I could go visit his friend with him and see his operation. He has two Creality Ender printers and two Prusa printers (4 in all) working almost 24/7.

    His friend is 3D printing a full size R2-D2 (in parts) and a full size C-3PO exoskeleton (in parts) that a person can actually wear. I was able to observe the Ender printer and ask him questions. This was able to satisfy my concerns and I was not then concerned about how the Ender printer would perform.

    Now, there is a BIG learning curve to using any of these devices, but I can assure you that the Creality Ender can do great prints when set up with care. The 3D printing hobby is still part scientific experiment and a little unpredictable at times, but mostly it will work well. I think for the price you will be getting a good machine that can do many things for you.

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