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Author Topic: an idiots guide to 3D printing  (Read 3817 times)

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Offline Alex

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an idiots guide to 3D printing
« on: July 05, 2012, 09:51:23 PM »
Hi,

I've been following the 3D printing threads with great interest. As someone with no experience in CAD is there an easy way to learn this? Or is it a case of trial and error? I'd like to try and produce some of the stuff I scratchbuild.

Alex :wave:

Offline NTrain

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Re: an idiots guide to 3D printing
« Reply #1 on: July 05, 2012, 10:26:32 PM »
Personally, I wish there was an easy way to do it. I have been designing stuff for years and only now getting stuff that I am happy to produce.

I am self taught and have been using Rhino 3D which is one of the heavy weight packages and has a heavy weight learning curve.

However, there are a lot of people using Sketchup, which was not available when I started, and they seem to get good results fairly quickly. I use a product called Netfabb Studio to 'clean' up my models prior to upload to Shapeways and get very few failures as a result.

It is important to review the material limitations on Shapeways, or the other 3D printing agencies and design your model accordingly. It is very important to think of the outside and the INSIDE of your model and also of structural strength. The fact that the material can be printed at 0.3mm, does not mean it is strong and cannot bow or snap.

I have had a few failures where the model is just too delicate to survive the transport from the Netherlands.

I am not trying to put you off, just trying to give you some of my personal experience. The tools that are available now, which weren't when I started, do make it easier.

Also, please take into consideration that I was a qualified draughtsman, trained in 2D, and am now in my latter 50's. Yes I am computer literate, having been a computer programmer, but I found that did not help me draw in 3 dimensions. (I still have trouble with compound curves)

It may help, if you could give an idea of the type of thing you want to do, as this may enable those of us with experience to target advice, rather than be general and vague in our answers.

For example are you talking buildings, rolling stock, road/rail side fixtures, or whatever.

Good luck.

Offline Alex

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Re: an idiots guide to 3D printing
« Reply #2 on: July 05, 2012, 10:36:35 PM »
Hi Bob,

Thanks for your reply. I was going to start with a simple design. It's a bay window for my 50ft caboose scratchbuilds. The standard caboose bay windows are too small to use so I have to make my own. While passable they are not perfect.

The  link shows a 50ft caboose. It should be easy enough to judge the size of the bay window.

http://users.silcon.com/~lgoss/BARBuggy.jpg

I'll have a play around with sketchup and see what I can come up with.

Alex :wave:

Offline red_death

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Re: an idiots guide to 3D printing
« Reply #3 on: July 05, 2012, 11:43:38 PM »
Both Alan (Etched Pixels) and I have put up details of what software we use and our approaches - very different to each other but both work.

Taking my approach ie using Blender - I don't actually think that 3D design is that difficult, what can be difficult is thinking through the best ways of building up complex shapes from simple shapes. 

Certainly with Blender once you have learned a few basics of the package it is remarkably powerful, though it is much easier to learn from someone else rather than to try and dive straight in. 

Cheers, Mike



Offline EtchedPixels

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Re: an idiots guide to 3D printing
« Reply #4 on: July 06, 2012, 12:15:42 AM »
You won't 3D print that without fudging the windows looking along the side of the wagon as the material will be too thin. If you painted that it looks fairly easy.

If you get stuck send me the dimensions and I can send you the STL file for it - its a trivial shape.
"Knowledge has no value or use for the solitary owner: to be enjoyed it must be communicated" -- Charles Pratt, 1st Earl Camden

Offline H

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Re: an idiots guide to 3D printing
« Reply #5 on: July 06, 2012, 06:56:58 AM »
Looking at it I'd have thought that as it's a very simple box structure with flat smooth sides it would be better to scratch build from plasticard. IMO 3D printing would excell for more complex shapes and curves where you want to print out mutliple examples - however, you do still get a grainy ridge effect on some surfaces and it can be fragile. Building from plasticard (and moulding in resin if you want lots) would negate that and probably be cheaper. But if you're prepared to learn the skill then go ahead.

H.

Offline EtchedPixels

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Re: an idiots guide to 3D printing
« Reply #6 on: July 06, 2012, 10:49:28 AM »
Looking at it I'd have thought that as it's a very simple box structure with flat smooth sides it would be better to scratch build from plasticard. IMO 3D printing would excell for more complex shapes and curves where you want to print out mutliple examples - however, you do still get a grainy ridge effect on some surfaces and it can be fragile. Building from plasticard (and moulding in resin if you want lots) would negate that and probably be cheaper. But if you're prepared to learn the skill then go ahead.

H.

Resin casting is actually usually a lot pricier now than 3D print for small objects.

Plasticard construction would also let you do the side windows as would cutting it out of a bit of scrap brass and folding it.
"Knowledge has no value or use for the solitary owner: to be enjoyed it must be communicated" -- Charles Pratt, 1st Earl Camden

Offline H

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Re: an idiots guide to 3D printing
« Reply #7 on: July 06, 2012, 11:41:54 AM »

Resin casting is actually usually a lot pricier now than 3D print for small objects.


Yep, but that wagon wasn't exactly a small object.    ;D
And the resin casting suggestion was only if a quantity was required. By the time you've made a couple of test 3D prints I'd have thought that a plasticard model would be cheaper for that monster.

H.

 

Offline EtchedPixels

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Re: an idiots guide to 3D printing
« Reply #8 on: July 06, 2012, 12:49:10 PM »
re-read - its just a bay window (ducket) for the caboose.

And even for an entire wagon its marginal these days. 3D print costs in material, resin costs in man hours. 3D print also tends to be far more dimensionally stable.

CMA's prices and lead times or resin are fairly eyewatering IMHO.

Alan
"Knowledge has no value or use for the solitary owner: to be enjoyed it must be communicated" -- Charles Pratt, 1st Earl Camden

Offline Alex

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Re: an idiots guide to 3D printing
« Reply #9 on: July 06, 2012, 06:27:04 PM »
Hi guys,

Many thanks for your replies, it's given me a lot to think about. It looks like 3D printing is very popular and a way to get something you can't normally buy. I have a number of ideas so I may as well try and learn this new fandangled stuff.

EP, I like the idea of a brass etch, that could be interesting. I had thought about casting them in resin as well.

I'll admit there may not be the market for mass producing these bay windows, as this style of caboose was only used by the Bangor and Aroostook Railroad. But we all have to start somewhere and this looks a good a place as any.

Thanks again.

Alex :wave:

Offline bbdave

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Re: an idiots guide to 3D printing
« Reply #10 on: July 06, 2012, 10:26:54 PM »
I would love to 3D print but as i can't do anything on CAD i gave up i tried sketchup and others all the idiots guides but i couldn't even get a line drawn on the screen let alone a wagon to dimensions very frustrating.

Dave

Offline EtchedPixels

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Re: an idiots guide to 3D printing
« Reply #11 on: July 07, 2012, 12:00:42 AM »
I would love to 3D print but as i can't do anything on CAD i gave up i tried sketchup and others all the idiots guides but i couldn't even get a line drawn on the screen let alone a wagon to dimensions very frustrating.

Dave

If its an consolation it's taken me about 9 months of on and off fiddling to get from "look a cube" to actually producing useful stuff and I'm really only on the surface of what can be done. Now I know why 3D CAD is an entire course with a qualification in the real world !
"Knowledge has no value or use for the solitary owner: to be enjoyed it must be communicated" -- Charles Pratt, 1st Earl Camden

Offline moogle

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Re: an idiots guide to 3D printing
« Reply #12 on: July 08, 2012, 02:37:17 PM »
A simple shape like that is a good one to start with in 3D, so go for it.
I've been dabbling with Google Sketchup for just over a year and am only just starting to learn the basics!
It takes a while to learn but I'm persevering with it as I think its a useful tool for modelling.
You can get a 'Google Sketchup for Dummies' book.
I've not really sat down and read it, but I have referred to it a few times and found it helpful.
Having done casting in resin and plaster for several years I can see the pro's and con's of both.
Casting takes a while to learn too, I only just managed a 2 piece mould and that wasn't perfect by any means!
Personal motto: You don't have to be mad to be a modeller, but I find it helps!

My Irish layout here

My Edwardian Seaside Layout here

My Backscene painting tutorial here

Offline Alex

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Re: an idiots guide to 3D printing
« Reply #13 on: July 08, 2012, 03:58:22 PM »
Hi Moogle,

Cheers. I've downloaded Sketchup so I'll have a play around with it during the week.

I've made moulds and cast resin before, when I did my wargaming many years ago. At that time there wasn't many aftermarket stuff so you made your own.

Alex :wave:

 

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