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Author Topic: Scratch buildings using a plotter cutter  (Read 1895 times)

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Offline Dorsetmike

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Scratch buildings using a plotter cutter
« on: August 01, 2017, 08:56:44 PM »
I thought it might be an idea to post my puny efforts here; rather than larger  beautifully produced edifices my efforts are mostly aimed at  mainly older residential scenes needing fewer skills.
I use a plotter cutter for all except the roof, saves hours of cutting, snapping blades, chunks out of fingers etc; OK the cutter costs quite a bit maybe 2 or 3 locos worth, but it's not restricted to making models, some of the SWMBOs might get interested in making cards or doilies among other decorative things, larger ones can be used to cut Vinyl for signs. Mine also has an embossing head.

It can produce repeated identical copies, a pair of 4 house terraces take about 5 minutes to cut in card, a little longer for embossed plasticard. Positioning and/or size of doors and widows is easily altered with a few clicks of a mouse. Once the parts are cut assemble them the same as any other kit


This is a mix of  Metcalfe card kits (factory bottom left and corner shop/pub upper centre right) and Peedie models cast resin kits (lighter grey low relief top centre) and one Scalescenes garage (bottom right of centre) with a number of my scratch built terraces in various brick or stone finishes. My aim is to get buildings which blend in with Metcalfe, Sclescenes or Peedie yet are sufficiently different. Bay windows and dormers are Scalelink csst white metal. Greenhouse, cold frames and garden sheds Peedie; vehicles and other bits from P D Marsh and others, plants from Ebay Chinese sellers, enhanced with scatter.

Basic shape below is produced in the cutter software, just a rectangle with a triangle perched on one end, then exported to an image editor, window and door openings sneakily produced by scanning the etches to get an exact sized rectangle, which I then copy/paste onto the basic shape as required to give the following images which are then exported back to the cutter software. (to position doors and windows draw a line along where you want the tops, erase it before export, you could also copy the 3 windows and door of the first house and copy/paste to the others flipping if necessary)


Image sent to cutter software, my window and door openings are sized to accept Peedie models etches;
this can  be used for a front, but only for a back if no rear extension.


Alternative door/window arrangement, this would be used for the back of a terrace with rear extensions but could also be used for front


Alternative rear extensions


For N gauge the above will fit onto an A4 sheet, alternatively leaving out the rear extensions you can extend the terrace to 6 houses and include a ginnel


Some cut parts plus 3 frets of etched windows and doors (grey primer, paint any colour you want) the Window cills and lintels are thin plastic strip, could also be paper , Scalescenes do some sheets of cills and lintels which could also be used. The darker pieces of card on the piece centre right are for positioning the rear extensions and also serve as roof supports for the extension, the four pieces on the left also show where to make folds.  The smaller grey pieces top centre are for porches, the longer single storey piece can be used to extend the ground floor front, could also be used with larger windows for shop fronts .


 A very simple "porch" as above can be made from plastruct styrene angle 3/16", cut a piece the wiidth of the door opening, glue the vertical inside the door opening with the horizontal through the opening. Chimney stacks made from plastic square or rectangular tube covered in brick (or stone) paper, chimney pots either cast white metal or plastic, or DIY from plastic tube.  (as usual the camera sees bits that we miss with the Mk I eyeball)

Assembly much the same as for any card kit, fit doors and windows first; I usually cut a floor and/or ceiling from heavier card or foam board, helps keep things square, I also often use a piece of plastic angle at inside corners especially at joins to give a greater area for glue, while glue sets I use York Models magnetic pieces to hold things together.

Roof preferably from tile embossed plasticard, the roof is probably the most visible part so the embossed looks better than printed card, York Models do self adhesive laser cut strips which look effective, various shapes and colours.

https://www.yorkmodelrail.com/n-scale/tiles

The cutter I have has been updated and obviously price increased over ther last 4 years, this is the current version
http://klicnkut.co.uk/zing-orbit/

The Silhouette range are cheaper, but are less capable in terms of the type, size and thickness of materials it can cut
Cheers MIKE
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Offline Zogbert Splod

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Re: Scratch buildings using a plotter cutter
« Reply #1 on: August 02, 2017, 02:38:36 PM »
Thanks to various communications with Mike, over the last couple of years I bought the same machine as he uses. It does all that it claims to and better than others I have tried. Repeatability is astonishing. I have made some very intricate cuts and then repeated them a few times on separate sheets of card, only to find that the registration was perfect to the point that I could glue layers together in total alignment.

I should say that I don't like the supplied software - it is aimed at the card and doilies brigade. However, using the methods that Mike suggests above, it becomes perfectly usable.

I'll take this opportunity to say again, thanks for the help Mike.

Regards, Allan.....
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Offline Dorsetmike

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Re: Scratch buildings using a plotter cutter
« Reply #2 on: August 02, 2017, 03:34:47 PM »
The main thing I like about the software is the large library of geometric and other shapes which you can select with a mouse click, drag and drop and size as required, you could probably do much of the "design work" on other drawing/drafting software; I didn't have any suitable software so used what was provided; minor gripe is measurements are Imperial not metric, although there is now a plug in of sorts for metric. Once youve selected, sized and positioned  your shapes you can then lock them in that configuration and duplicate and flip if needed where necessary, in my terrace houses example, I start with a rectangle which I size by dragging sides or corners (the "work page" has a grid which makes this easy, I then select the triangle (various options, equilateral, Rt angle  etc) position and size and lock it (it will be the top of the gable end), I then duplicate, flip the copy and position it, lock the pair and duplicate that; export that as a .jpg or .tif file into an image editor where I fill the outline with black then I add window and door openings as white rectangles.

Export back to the cutter software, position the card or plasticard on the adhesive cutting mat, a laser spot is projected onto the card to set the start position then send the outline to the cutter, depending on the materia,l initially set cutting force and speed, number of passes etc.

Cheers MIKE
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Offline daveg

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Re: Scratch buildings using a plotter cutter
« Reply #3 on: August 02, 2017, 06:13:14 PM »
Really impressive stuff, Mike.

Dave G

Offline ColinH

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Re: Scratch buildings using a plotter cutter
« Reply #4 on: August 02, 2017, 09:11:29 PM »
The main thing I like about the software is the large library of geometric and other shapes which you can select with a mouse click, drag and drop and size as required, you could probably do much of the "design work" on other drawing/drafting software; I didn't have any suitable software so used what was provided; minor gripe is measurements are Imperial not metric, although there is now a plug in of sorts for metric. Once youve selected, sized and positioned  your shapes you can then lock them in that configuration and duplicate and flip if needed where necessary, in my terrace houses example, I start with a rectangle which I size by dragging sides or corners (the "work page" has a grid which makes this easy, I then select the triangle (various options, equilateral, Rt angle  etc) position and size and lock it (it will be the top of the gable end), I then duplicate, flip the copy and position it, lock the pair and duplicate that; export that as a .jpg or .tif file into an image editor where I fill the outline with black then I add window and door openings as white rectangles.

Export back to the cutter software, position the card or plasticard on the adhesive cutting mat, a laser spot is projected onto the card to set the start position then send the outline to the cutter, depending on the materia,l initially set cutting force and speed, number of passes etc.

I bought the wife one of these with the idea that we would both use it. Her for printing and cutting her dolls house miniatures packets, boxes etc at 1:12 and myself for the printing and cutting of scenic items as you have done. We did not get on with it as we were wanting to use 'Print and Cut' (PNC) where you would design the item using the KlicknCut and print it then put it on to the cutting mat, line up the cutter and cut it. We eventually sold the machine.

Looks as if what you are doing is using 'Click and Cut' where you design the outline and then cut from a full sheet of preprinted material (ie a sheet of brickpaper) so it does not matter to the mm where the cutter starts on the printed sheet. Presumably the window/door lintels ar pasted on top of the brickpaper. If that is not the case then my apologies for downplaying your skills.
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Offline Dorsetmike

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Re: Scratch buildings using a plotter cutter
« Reply #5 on: August 02, 2017, 11:02:03 PM »
That's the way I do it.

It is possible to do print 'n cut but you need to initialise the cutter at 3 defined points which I found to be a lot of faffing about. For ordinary card  I usually print the brick or stone to A4 labels and stick them on card then cut. If I'm doing a building with window or door surrounds or corners, I either print that to label, cut the card then carefuly cut the label by hand (don't mind cutting paper) and stick to the cut card, alternatively for some of the decorative stonework I print the decorative bits separately and stick them over the cut card + brick/stone label. You can also buy stick on corbels and lintels etc.

 For something like this I would add the decorative bits after cutting, must try something like that (image linked from Google)

« Last Edit: August 02, 2017, 11:03:31 PM by Dorsetmike »
Cheers MIKE
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Offline RailGooner

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Re: Scratch buildings using a plotter cutter
« Reply #6 on: August 02, 2017, 11:28:58 PM »
Top work Mike. Top tips. Top thread. Definitely one to bookmark :thumbsup: :thumbsup: :thumbsup: :thumbsup: :thumbsup:
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Offline NinOz

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Re: Scratch buildings using a plotter cutter
« Reply #7 on: August 03, 2017, 12:33:36 AM »
Mike,
If you were in a position requiring replacing your current unit, which unit would you select.

CFJ
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I tried so hard to be snobbish and haughty.

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Offline Dorsetmike

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Re: Scratch buildings using a plotter cutter
« Reply #8 on: August 03, 2017, 11:16:42 AM »
Difficult one NinOz, the model I have has been upgraded and with that a price hike; in general terms I would probably go for it due to my satisfaction with the one I have, however I would check out other makes as they no doubt will have been upgraded in the 4 years or so since I got mine.

Mine was £300 when I bought it, the current near equivalent is £503; one of the current model is on Ebay from USA at £330 + £56 P&P don't know what sort of customs duty you'd pay in Oz, maybe worth investigating.

Try & Google "KNK Zing" for a stockist in Oz.

Amazon UK have quite a few but they seem to be either cheap Silhouette make which have limited material size and thickness (unless they've considerably upped their spec) otherwise most are large vinyl signwriter types.

I think I'd be inclined to keep an eye on Ebay for used ones unless you want to pay full whack, new blades should be easy to find.
Cheers MIKE
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Offline Dorsetmike

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Re: Scratch buildings using a plotter cutter
« Reply #9 on: August 03, 2017, 11:31:09 AM »
That fancy building I pictured above got me thinking "how would I do something like that"

These suggestions could in many cases also be used to enhance Metcalfe kits.

For the bay windows, dormers, chimney pots and the arched porches I would probably go for Scalelink cast items

http://www.scalelink.co.uk/acatalog/Scenic___Scale_1_152__N_.html

Fancy brickwork, either York Models

https://www.yorkmodelrail.com/n-scale/detailing-steps-signs/n-scale-stone-quoins

https://www.yorkmodelrail.com/n-scale/detailing-steps-signs/n-scale-vertical-brick-corbeling-detail-01

Or Scalescenes, (also other colours of stone, brick etc)

http://scalescenes.com/product/tx45-ashlar/
« Last Edit: August 03, 2017, 11:33:29 AM by Dorsetmike »
Cheers MIKE
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Offline daveg

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Re: Scratch buildings using a plotter cutter
« Reply #10 on: August 03, 2017, 01:34:26 PM »
Can't wait to see it so go for it, Mike!!  :D

Dave G

Offline Dorsetmike

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Re: Scratch buildings using a plotter cutter
« Reply #11 on: August 03, 2017, 02:24:42 PM »
I'm currently doing some layout alterations, so it'll be a week or two before I get back to buildings.
Cheers MIKE
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Offline JonHarbour

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Re: Scratch buildings using a plotter cutter
« Reply #12 on: September 27, 2017, 01:58:55 PM »
Stumbled across this thread tonight. I've been pondering how to accurately cut card or plasticard to produce simple interiors for my 'In the Greenwood' laser cut kits (See this thread for details) to enable me to light up the interiors by room. I came across a thread on RMWeb (can I mention that here?)  ;) about Silhouette Cutters (the Portrait, the Cameo and the Curio) and I'm seriously considering buying one. It's a chunk of cash though and would be hard to smuggle past the domestic boss!

The cutting machine option looks good for precisely this type of work - I've also been inspired by some of the astonishing work of Grahame with his London Bridge buildings to perhaps delve into scratch building.

I suspect it's a question of how long I can go before I convince myself I have to have such a machine.... I suspect not long!  :-[
Still planning a layout...

Offline PaulCheffus

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Re: Scratch buildings using a plotter cutter
« Reply #13 on: September 27, 2017, 02:26:48 PM »
I suspect it's a question of how long I can go before I convince myself I have to have such a machine.... I suspect not long!  :-[

Hi

Personally I tend to only use mine for building multiples of the same item because when doing a one off I can usually cut the parts out quicker than I can draw and cut with the machine. However, should you decide in the future to make another one all you have to do is fire the machine up and leave it to cut the pieces out.

Cheers

Paul

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Offline Dorsetmike

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Re: Scratch buildings using a plotter cutter
« Reply #14 on: September 27, 2017, 04:31:32 PM »
Not that impressed by the Silhouette range, OK for light card but not much else, cutting force of the Cameo 3 is 220g, the Zing is 750g.

I'd agree with Paul that the plotter cutter scores most on the repeatability, but having had a look at the in the Greenwood houses £9 for a pair of terrace houses, I can cut 2 blocks of 4 in 5 minutes  from card or 10 minutes from embossed plasticard as shown in the first post of this thread.

I'm quite happy to do one offs, being retired I can spend as much time as I like on the drawing, the more I do the easier it becomes. I've built up a library of things like windows of various sizes, most buildings are rectangular some  need a triangular bit for a gable, so for a basic building you need a rectangle correct sze for each wall and a triangle for each gable - if any. Then copy/paste window and door openings from your library - job done.

Things like lintels and cills  and any "decorative" stone or brick work - Quoins and corbels  etc get added to the assembled building, or you print to the card before cutting, although that requires faffing around setting markers to ensure the cut and print are aligned.
Cheers MIKE
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