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Thread: Just some thoughts on laser cut and 3d printed products

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    Default Just some thoughts on laser cut and 3d printed products

    A recent post asking what kinds of structures should be made if someone were to start a new laser kit company brought to mind a thought I've had, and this thought I've been kicking around for a while... I started it as a reply to that thread, but it seems really to be beyond the scope of that OP's question, so I've chosen to start a new thread.

    I have seen several 3d printed and laser cut structures for sale on ebay. Most are pretty cheap and most are not particularly well detailed. Most don't include any kind of decals or anything. I suspect they are made by people who mostly want to recoup the cost of their machines too. What I see very little of these days is any sort of mixed media kits. It seems like someone who uses a 3d printer will use it for every part of their model regardless of whether it's the best tool for the job or not. Same thing with a laser cutter. Sometimes there are models that would be better served by combining techniques and materials.

    Just for a thought experiment, let's take a look at this building here: https://www.shorpy.com/node/21035

    This could be an excellent candidate for a laser cut model. Overall, it's just 2 boxes with a few doors and windows. Until you start looking at the details and the textures. And even then, where does one stop? Just with the shell of the building? Even that's not as simple as it looks. The right half of the building is masonry, of course, but the left side of the building is metal siding stamped to look like brick. How could these be differentiated using the laser cutter? Is it even possible? I wonder if doing the metal siding could be cut from laserboard and the masonry part cut from balsa wood that can be distressed by dabbing with a wire brush as part of the assembly process maybe? Look at that signage! Would the building be as interesting without it? Nope. They do as much as the display windows do to make this such an interesting building. Do you have means to provide the decals in the kit, or is the end user on his own? Look at the cornices. Each half of the building has a distinct style. Neither would be difficult to produce with the laser cutter, but let's really LOOK at how we'd make them with the laser cutter. The cornice on the left could be thin laserboard (burned with horizontal lines on part of it), but the corbels would have to be cut from thicker stuff. Do you have to make an adjustment to the laser cutter to do that? The brick cornice on the right would be possible to make from stacked lasercut paper. But it would take a good bit of precision assembly to get it looking like it should. Here's where I think there's merit in mixed media kits. The cornices could all be 3d printed (or even cast from a suitable material, whether metal or resin) and would make assembly much easier.
    There's a LOT going on in that photo, but I don't think anyone would disagree that the display windows really are the focal point of that building (along with the signage). So would any of the glass be lasercut, or would you just tell the end user to cut it out of acetate or blister packaging plastic? Would any of the details in the windows be included? I'm guessing no. That's a lot of extra bits there. And you'd be limiting the era it could be used for by doing so. But then again, it would make a great scene. And there's good reason to use other media besides laser cut to make those items. To make the washing machine and water heater if nothing else. But suppose you made the show window details as a 3d print? Sort of an insert to be painted separately and put inside the windows? It may take some experimenting to come up with something that looks good, but I suspect it could be done.

    I know that all this adds cost to the final product. But every time I think about cost this damn Walther's kit pops into my head:
    Last I looked they were asking nearly 30 bucks for that stupid tiny thing, and any fool with a knife can scratchbuild it. Seems to me since that model's gotta be almost 30 years old now, those molds have been LONG paid for. So high costs for simple items put a bad taste in my mouth. If you're going to charge money anyway, give me something in return.

    Another product I would really love to see would be turn of the century style passenger cars. Something better than the tired old Bachmanns and Athearns. This is something that really no single process could make easily. While laser cutting would be ideal for the car sides and ends, the roof would be difficult to produce using only flat pieces. Perhaps it could be cut from some moldable paper product, but then it would still need to be molded to its final shape. Either vacuum-formed plastic or a casting could possibly work. Why not 3d print the whole thing? I've always shied away from the idea of 3d printing because of the bad experiences I've had with Shapeways products. Way too expensive, and so brittle you look at it crosseyed and it breaks. But I understand these new breed of resin printers have made that less of an issue. But I also understand that the affordable machines have a tiny work area which force one to print a car standing up at an incline and thereby make each car roof extremely time consuming to produce. So I wonder if a resin casting wouldn't be the best way to go there. Another beef I have with the tired old Bachmann cars is the end rails and truss rods being a scale foot thick. That seems to just cry out for photoetching. I've seen videos of brass being coated with paint then the laser cutter burning the paint away to make etchings now. Much easier than the old resist methods, if you have the laser cutter handy anyway. But the thing I'd really love to see these kits have most, is brass trucks. HOn3 uses brass trucks, and they are nice for adding weight under the car where you need it. Now I realize N trucks won't have nearly the mass, but as it stands now, the only source of early trucks is Panamint Models' Shapeways offerings and I'll be damned if I'll trust a part as critical as a truck to be made of FUD. At least I wouldn't have to worry about brass breaking if the car derails, even if it's not very heavy.

    Anyway, that's just some of the things I've put real thought into. I'd be delighted to hear others' thoughts on the subject, especially from kit manufacturers and would-be kit manufacturers.
    "Do Not Hump!?!?! Does that mean what I think it means?!?"--Michelle Blanchard

    "People saw wood and say nothing, but railroad men saw trains and say things that are better left unprinted."--Charles De Lano Hine

    Down with UP

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    @ranulf

    What you are saying, is why I have all these toys and some that I haven't even mentioned that I have. I'll go in more depth tomorrow on a lot of what you are asking. A lot of what I've done so far in n scale uses a lot of the different tools I have. I have a few structures all ready cut out and waiting for doors, windows and details.
    Later
    Rodney

    Here is my build of my n-scale railroad
    https://www.nscale.net/forums/showthr...-50-8-quot-%29

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    @ranulf, @ Rodsup9000, This is what prompted me to ask about my idea of printed windows to add to structures like that warehouse. I'm making buildings out of 2mm corrogated cardboard and to add windows, something with a bit of relief, a 3D look would suit better than a flat image. That warehouse is what I'm actually doing and while it doesen't have much in the way of windows, structures like these -
    http://www.gilpintram.com/images/Bonanza%20Mill.jpg
    http://www.gilpintram.com/images/Iro...20Mill%203.jpg
    do and are a challenge in many ways.
    I have the walls for a larger, similar structure already cut out. I use a paper overlay of clapboard for the walls but even the window castings for it will be involved to first obtain then install.
    The first 3 images from this link is what I'm trying to do in N scale.
    http://members.westnet.com.au/mjbd/h...ck_models.html
    Commercial window castings are designed to recess into a cut opening but if your not detailing the interior, what's the point of cutting the opening? and some types of siding, clapboard and plain metal sheet are just as easily represented by flat printed paper/card and a surface mount window casting will be just as effective. This 'flat' mount window can be done in 3D resin print or laser-cut peel & stick and be just as effective.
    Cheers,

    Russ

    CEO of Devil's Gate Mining Co.



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    Quote Originally Posted by ranulf View Post
    How could these be differentiated using the laser cutter? Is it even possible? I wonder if doing the metal siding could be cut from laserboard and the masonry part cut from balsa wood that can be distressed by dabbing with a wire brush as part of the assembly process maybe?
    That would be a tough one, but the balsa idea might work. I just haven't seen any laser cut brick that looks all that well in n scale. A lot of people raved about "Monster Works" laser cut brick, but it just doesn't look good to me. Maybe cause the bricks are a little large for n scale, I just don't know. The best n scale brick that I ever seen and used was vacuum formed from Holgate & Reynolds, but they haven't been around for 20 plus years.





    Quote Originally Posted by ranulf View Post
    Do you have means to provide the decals in the kit,
    Have you seen this??? White toner cartridges

    https://www.uscutter.com/Ghost-White...arable-HP-131A

    MIL has a printer that this will fit. I'm going to buy a cartridge sometime after the first of the year and try it to see how well it works.




    Quote Originally Posted by ranulf View Post
    but the corbels would have to be cut from thicker stuff. Do you have to make an adjustment to the laser cutter to do that?
    Would have to raise the head a slight bit for the thicker wood.






    Quote Originally Posted by ranulf View Post
    The brick cornice on the right would be possible to make from stacked lasercut paper. But it would take a good bit of precision assembly to get it looking like it should. Here's where I think there's merit in mixed media kits. The cornices could all be 3d printed (or even cast from a suitable material, whether metal or resin) and would make assembly much easier.

    Stacked lasercut paper would be easier to design and use registration slots for stacking
    Maybe just resin print all 4 walls with the cornice on it, sort of like DPM kits
    To get museum quality building of the one on the right, make a very time consuming master of the walls out of basswood, and cast it in hydrocal





    Quote Originally Posted by ranulf View Post
    So would any of the glass be lasercut, or would you just tell the end user to cut it out of acetate or blister packaging plastic? Would any of the details in the windows be included? I'm guessing no. That's a lot of extra bits there. And you'd be limiting the era it could be used for by doing so. But then again, it would make a great scene.

    Laser cut acetate is OK for windows, but you could get some .020" thick microscope slide glass and have the end user cut the glass to size with a glass cutter.
    Window display cases would be 3D printed and offer 3 different ones for different eras. This adds to cost, but if we talking top notch kits, all this needs to be included.




    Quote Originally Posted by ranulf View Post
    Last I looked they were asking nearly 30 bucks for that stupid tiny thing, and any fool with a knife can scratchbuild it. Seems to me since that model's gotta be almost 30 years old now, those molds have been LONG paid for. So high costs for simple items put a bad taste in my mouth. If you're going to charge money anyway, give me something in return.

    That how most company's stay in business. In this day and age, they have to do this to make a profit.




    Quote Originally Posted by ranulf View Post
    turn of the century style passenger cars
    That is very doable 3D printed in resin for n scale. Just need to do the CAD work.




    Quote Originally Posted by ranulf View Post
    But the thing I'd really love to see these kits have most, is brass trucks.


    You've given me a great idea that I'll have to try next spring. Spincast some trucks in white metal.
    Rodney

    Here is my build of my n-scale railroad
    https://www.nscale.net/forums/showthr...-50-8-quot-%29

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rodsup9000 View Post
    Originally Posted by ranulf
    turn of the century style passenger cars
    That is very doable 3D printed in resin for n scale. Just need to do the CAD work.
    When you look at the price of MDC/Athearn Overton & Overland cars, even the Bachmann cars, I'm surprised this hasn't been done. And try finding coach doors and combine baggage doors....
    Cheers,

    Russ

    CEO of Devil's Gate Mining Co.



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    Hi Ranulf,

    I agree there's sticker shock when looking at most kits today. In N scale it's $5 or more per square inch for a building. Most of the building kits are too small for their type...a 2" by 4" warehouse??? Tool and die costs, foreign import duties and the exchange rate have reduced the model railroad products available.

    I think there's great potential for combining the technologies of 3D printing, resin casting to reduce the amount of work required to make good models. If you stick with cars of a particular length, you only need to design and print one roof, use it as a master for your rubber mold and cast 50-75 resin copies for your car fleet.

    The same potential exists for die and laser cutting machines. By adding 3D printed window frames, we should be able to produce high quality models for minimal material costs. But these are all labors of love, not designed for commercial success. If you look at most models of the recent years, they reuse walls, windows and details among from other kits to reduce the design costs.

    Most of the time required to produce these items is in the conception and computer time required to design and draw the objects. I create the files so I can easily cut out or print my version of "reality along the tracks"...I'm a hobbyist...not a commercial vendor. I really don't want to run my printer or die cutter 24 hours a day producing N copies of the same building or car. Perhaps we should consider sharing our design files so others could benefit?
    Happy Modeling

    Bruce

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    Quote Originally Posted by BruceNscale View Post
    Perhaps we should consider sharing our design files so others could benefit?
    If it's a file that's complete, no additional work needed then a reasonable 'fee' for use could be acceptable. But of course, once it leaves your hands, you no longer have any control of it.
    Cheers,

    Russ

    CEO of Devil's Gate Mining Co.



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    Quote Originally Posted by BruceNscale View Post
    Perhaps we should consider sharing our design files so others could benefit?
    I've been doing this with two others with Photon's. I been working great for us so far. One on my problems is my internet is slow and I've had to run to the library to download a few times.




    Another thing I dislike about some of the commercial kits, and I think Bruce or somebody else had mentioned it, is the peel and stick windows and trim. There are very time consuming to install, and distracts in some case, of a very fine model. The corner trim looks awful on the few I've done.
    Rodney

    Here is my build of my n-scale railroad
    https://www.nscale.net/forums/showthr...-50-8-quot-%29

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    Quote Originally Posted by BruceNscale View Post
    I really don't want to run my printer or die cutter 24 hours a day
    What die cutter do you have??? I do have a Cameo that I haven't play with much and I guess I need to learn more about it.
    Rodney

    Here is my build of my n-scale railroad
    https://www.nscale.net/forums/showthr...-50-8-quot-%29

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    Hi Rodsup9000,

    I have a "Zing" die cutting machine and use "Make The Cut" software for design.

    My primary interest was getting straight lines of square windows in buildings. My largest skyscraper is thirteen stories and contains over 460 windows. Prior to the Zing, I found cutting precision windows to be a very tedious chore.
    Happy Modeling

    Bruce

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rodsup9000 View Post
    You've given me a great idea that I'll have to try next spring. Spincast some trucks in white metal.
    Well if you do early era passenger car trucks in white metal, make some for me too!
    "Do Not Hump!?!?! Does that mean what I think it means?!?"--Michelle Blanchard

    "People saw wood and say nothing, but railroad men saw trains and say things that are better left unprinted."--Charles De Lano Hine

    Down with UP

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    Quote Originally Posted by BruceNscale View Post
    contains over 460 windows. Prior to the Zing, I found cutting precision windows to be a very tedious chore

    Wow, that's a lot of windows. So did you do them the hard way or with the Zing. I've done maybe 100 and that is one of the things I hated doing, whether it was a kit or from scratch. I even machined a square cutter back in high school just for HO scale doors and windows. Things are so much easier with the tools available today than back then.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Quote Originally Posted by ranulf View Post
    Well if you do early era passenger car trucks in white metal, make some for me too!

    We can do that.
    Rodney

    Here is my build of my n-scale railroad
    https://www.nscale.net/forums/showthr...-50-8-quot-%29

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    You know, with all these items, you -and other- printer people could almost set up a market place here. Cost would have to be agreed between interested parties and agreement reached, that sort of thing. Maybe a kickback to nSn operating account...
    Cheers,

    Russ

    CEO of Devil's Gate Mining Co.



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    Hi Rodsup9000,

    I drew the masters using Make The Cut software and let the Zing cut the windows and wall shapes for me.

    I will try to post a picture of the finished building.
    Happy Modeling

    Bruce

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    Quote Originally Posted by BruceNscale View Post
    I will try to post a picture of the finished building.
    That'll be great if you would
    Rodney

    Here is my build of my n-scale railroad
    https://www.nscale.net/forums/showthr...-50-8-quot-%29

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    Good Afternoon All,

    Per my promise, here's a picture of the Phoschem company headquarters.Phoschem_Headquarters.jpg The Dinoco garage and service station.Dinoco_Garage.jpg And the AJO Cafe.AJO_Cafe.jpg
    All three of these buildings were drawn using Make The Cut software and cut by a Zing die cutting machine. It does a good job of keeping the windows and doors in alignment and square.
    Happy Modeling

    Bruce

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    So.... I know sticker shock has been brought up in this thread already. But I can't avoid it. There are some NICE laser cut models available. In fact there is one particular station I have the perfect location in mind for, and it fits my era and style I'm looking for perfectly. I'm not going to point it out because I don't want to pick on anyone, and the maker is actually a member here. I don't want him to think I am calling him out. I'm not. However, this particular station is only about 2 inches square and costs $70. 2 inches square on a 7 1/2 ft by 16 ft layout. One tiny little building on a whole layout, and it costs SEVENTY dollars. $70! I know there's some costs involved, and I know thin material isn't cheap. I get that, OK?

    But...

    I stumbled upon this video last night totally by accident:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BmfIP2oJW-4

    And curiosity got the best of me, and I followed the link to see what that incredibly detailed gizmo costs. Lo and behold, that 400+ piece kit sells for the same seventy dollars as that tiny little depot does.

    Now I must be honest, there are probably hundreds more people who would buy a hurdygurdy than would buy an N scale station. (There's a sentence I never once imagined I'd ever write) And honestly, that little gizmo looks like it would be a fun way to score a free drink by pulling it out at a bar. Most people wouldn't be as impressed by one N scale depot, I'm sure. I have to wonder tho, if more people would buy that little depot if it were say, $40? I don't know. I'm not a businessman, and I'm perfectly willing to accept that there's some "X factor" I don't understand at play here.

    I just know I won't be buying a hurdygurdy kit (Wifey says no). But I have to admit: if I did, I really wouldn't feel ripped off by paying 70 dollars for that. I don't think I would feel that happy about a 2 inch square depot. I just can't wrap my mind around it, so I won't be buying that cute little depot either, even tho Wifey would say it's OK.
    "Do Not Hump!?!?! Does that mean what I think it means?!?"--Michelle Blanchard

    "People saw wood and say nothing, but railroad men saw trains and say things that are better left unprinted."--Charles De Lano Hine

    Down with UP

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    Quote Originally Posted by ranulf View Post
    Now I must be honest, there are probably hundreds more people who would buy a hurdygurdy than would buy an N scale station.
    Hurdy Gurdy demand > N scale demand
    Daniel Dawson

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    thing is that Hurdy Gurdy is made in china and bet they cut a few thousand of them if not more. Where that station is cut here and if he make 100 he's doing good. Not sure who makes it
    but if a small shop might not even get material at much of a discount. Do know a lot of supplies will not sell to you without a store front, so cost adds up fast.
    rich

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