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Beardylong

3D printing for after-market 'resin' components

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I was chatting with an acquaintance the other day combining my twin passions of modelling & technology! He mentioned how 3D printing was coming on leaps & bounds and how it would find its way into the home before too long. Having seen for myself at CES 13 in Vegas (the massive annual consumer electronics show) & in TV reports from CES 14, it's clear this area is one to watch.

Are they any views how this would impact on the accessorises/after-market market for modelling?

The clever bit will be doing the design work on CAD and then selling the files as downloads that can be 'printed' remotely. Perhaps your 'Local Model Shop' (if you have one!) would be able to justify investing in a printer, which would also help bring people to the store. No mucking around with casting - just 'print' on demand. No stock holding.

From what I understand the detailing is pretty good nowadays, the materials pretty workable and you can even 'print' now in different colours.

Thoughts?

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Masters for Resin casting are already done this way, (Which may have the undesirable effect of leaving voxel-jaggies on the finished product. Have noticed that on the Eduard tailcone of the 48th F-16.) ATM cost of sufficiently detailed products are still prohibitive. But that's bound to change.

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Even high schools have 3d printers now!!(well they do here) They printed off a few Minions and one of the folks in the office painted them. Impressive stuff.

Give it a couple of years and we will be all creating stuff. Imagine it will kill the miniature market a bit.

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Thanks for the tip

I selling my shares in minions !

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I think there is some interesting stuff coming our way with 3-D modelling and printing. At the moment - this kind of printing is slow(unless you have industrial kit) but that will improve over time. Perhaps this is a return to the days of building models from plans rather than kits - except this time, the skill is in creating the plans rather than the construction. Interesting idea about hobby shops selling bits produced on demand by 3D printers too - I saw something on protecting the 3-D files the other day, so they are harder to copy.

anthony

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I wonder if the guys who produce accessories see it as a threat or an opportunity! Probably the former.It would be interesting to get their view. Someone's going to try it someday soon!

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It is already being done in the model railway and ship world. It is interesting to look at the specialist sub-forums on (eg on N Gauge Forum). The main problems appear to be getting a smooth finish on curved surfaces using current technology without hugely excessive prices for the equipment and/or individual runs from suppliers. There's a lot of clever thinking going into getting round these questions, and (as always) costs can be expected to fall. At the moment, if you really want something (not too big) as a one-off and can handle CAD, then this is for you. As suggested above, it is being used by accessory manufacturers to make their masters, which can then be refined for "mass" production at lower costs. It does seem to be some away from mass use by everyday modellers on their kitchen table.

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I had a chat to a chap today that is marketing his own design 3D printer.

Was really impressed with the samples he had printed.

The current setup prints plastic.

It will soon be able to print aluminium, stone and wood!

Costs about £900 as a kit, or £300 more built.

Build size 270 x 220 x 220 mm.

Print speed 150mm second, accuracy 0.01mm.

Resolution 80microns.

Very impressive results...

Paul

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I have used the process as mentioned above (the Alley Cat Landrover and Supacat wheels) and have another few projects where the process will be very helpful to produce masters.

As said to get a finished product is not at the point of perfection just yet, but I know as everybody does that will improve, look how technology has gone in the last few years. How soon it will be that your idea is realised well I am not sure.

Cynical like I am how many small manufacturers are there in the world at present? Not that many although there is a lot, the numbers are still small.

How many people have the skills or the inclination to have a cottage industry and actual make things not many.

How many people sped hours studying subjects to make parts or kits not many.

How many people have the skilss to interpret drawings and photographs to make masters OR to take all that data and put into 3D software? not many, many can make 3D models and good ones including my son BUT do they have any feel and or idea about trying to capture the subtle curves and shapes of a Spitfire or any other modelling subject NO.

So is the technology a threat to me? No because I will use it as much as I can to get to the products that I can, but at the moment and for the forseeable future it is not the full answer to all the modelling problems and issues.

One other point many BIG name companies are using all the CAD and 3D tecnology that is available, BUT many are getting it all wrong, and badly wrong, as we keep seeing, lots of new plastic model companies springing up with fantastic looking 3D cad drawings on all the websites and then when we get them in the box and pull out our glue we start seeing that they do NOT fit and there is a whole host of errors in model. I am not mentioning an names asit is not my place do so but there are so many new models that are just so wrong I just wonder what the point is of them even being made, and even more frustrating they have made everything with such complex equipment.

So there it is from me it does not matter how good the equipment is if the basics are not correct and if the operators have no idea what an aircraft should look like then nothing is a threat.

Just as a last thought, you get good manufacturers right now and you get bad ones, the same will apply no matter what the technology is, and will everybody be able to afford (even use a printing service in the future of the TOP quality) if not will you have to compromise a 100% first rate drawing and then only be able to print on a DOT MATRIX type printer because the quality one is to expensive??

TECHNOLOGY bring it on, well that is if I and you can afford it??????

Ali

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at the moment and for the forseeable future it is not the full answer to all the modelling problems and issues.

I agree completely.

I use 3D CAD to create my car chassis, and I buy the 3D data to create bodyshells. As said, there's a big difference between a good one and a bad one, that's without the differences between a good 3D printer and a ropey one. But let's not forget, it was always this way, even with hand-carved masters or injection moulded kits; some captured the look brilliantly and others were like a bad photo had been faxed to the designer.

It's useful for some things, but it's only the people who want to sell you the technology saying it's the answer to everything

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I had a chat to a chap today that is marketing his own design 3D printer.Was really impressed with the samples he had printed.The current setup prints plastic.It will soon be able to print aluminium, stone and wood!Costs about £900 as a kit, or £300 more built.Build size 270 x 220 x 220 mm.Print speed 150mm second, accuracy 0.01mm.Resolution 80microns.Very impressive results...Paul

Print stone and wood?

How on earth do you do that?

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Have a look on ARC for a Kitty Hawk Mig-25 build. He's used a 3D printed nose conversion, looks just like resin to me!

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Print stone and wood?

How on earth do you do that?

Like most technology the first time you see it it's magic.

The product (wood/stone) is broken down to small particles, then made into a line (,I assume there is some sort of carrier in there). The line is then fed through the printer just like the plastic lines. I suspect the actual processes are secret, they want to stop others copying it for as long as possible.

Had a look at a wooden printed item and it looked carved. The stone one looked good as well.

Paul

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I definitely think 3D printing has potential but it still has some way to come. I've recently designed some enhancements for accurising a couple of models and printed them via Shapeways. Using the finest detail product the parts have come out so well they're hard to distinguish from the styrene parts. If I can figure out how to post pictures here I'll upload a couple. However, it was an expensive 'experiment' and cleaning the parts can be far trickier than traditional model parts due to the wax support material used. I'm hoping that the drive to put 3D printing in the home will improve the quality and materials available as well as the cost.

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I guess the real trick is high resolution. At lower resolutions you are limited to easily-smoothed parts like nose cones. And many plastics, such as ABS, don't take really fine detail so the market isn't driven that hard. I have seen some impressive metal jewellery and suchlike, but no polystyrene yet. So maybe the brass etching and machining brigade might be first to jump on board in a big way. However costs seem high, for both the laser-sintering printers and the fine metal powders, so maybe that is holding it back. Still, how much can it cost to print say a 1:72 Spitfire tailwheel, rear-view mirror or pitot tube? I live in hope (hint, hint!).

Once affordable quality does arrive, I think that the global database of free designs will quickly add detailed model parts to its already vast repertoire, and proprietary files will survive only in a few protected niches.

My pet idea is to evacuate the print chamber so there is no air between the granules (I'll bet the hi-tech metal gurus already do that) and use a transparent plastic. Restoring air pressure while the plastic is still soft should collapse any cavities and produce perfect transparencies, perhaps needing a light polish but I could live with that.

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I went to check out some new laser based 3D printers last week. They were fabulous bits of kit and printed to a resolution of 13 microns. Hopefully we will be getting one or two of the machines if the management buy into our proposal.

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I was looking at 3d printing for weapons, it's not that expensive if you can design them on a sprue, but you need CAD knowledge to design them correctly in the first place!

If I were Airfix, I'd be creating as many 3D CAD models as I could, invest in industrial 3D printers, list all the models on the site and say, order whatever you want (for a slightly higher price) and we print it, if models are inaccurate you just modify the CAD model, no more expensive masters/moulds that take ages to modify

I realise thats a simplistic way of looking at things, but he who dares wins, Rodney!

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Hi guys

I was looking into this, as clearly it is a technology that potentially has the ability to transform our hobby. Stuff like making some intake trunking for the Kittyhawk Mig 25 comes to mind as one great use, plus being able to make some more accurate bits and bobs where current 2D injection moulding techniques impose limitations.

However, after reviewing what's currently on the market that is (vaguely) affordable to the home user, it's clear that this technology is far from mature enough to allow reproduction of parts with a sufficiently good surface finish to be useable without a lot of post printing work.

One item that I (as an aircraft engine engineer) always find unsatisfactory is the representation of the modern wide chord fan blades, which have a complex shape that includes hade angle, compound curvature, fairly large annulus spaces and also low blade count leading to a very 'see through' blade disc. The A-10 engines spring to mind as a good example. However, when researching, I came across a GE engine modelled using the MakerGear M2, which currently seems to be the 3D printer with the best feedback in the US$1500 to USD2000 range. While from a distance the shape and form of the blades looked just what we want, unfortunately they do not bear close inspection. The striations left by the printing process mean that the surface finish was completely unacceptable for this as printed, and would require considerable sanding and finishing to enable them to be satisfactorily used. The geometry of these types of parts don't really lend themselves to this, so in my opinion, currently 3D printing will be limited to those businesses that can afford machines that are able to produce finer finishes.

So to conclude, even though I can model something fine in Solidworks, it will be a while yet before I can move it from the screen to my model with a 3D printer. I'll be keeping an eye on this, but I reckon it will be a few years yet

Les

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Sounds like a great idea, once the prices start to come down for the home user.

Problem is where would you be able to download a template from?

Especially for difficult parts like a car wing, a mounted gun, or a pilot/driver figure?

Edited by Deadman Disciple

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Problem is where would you be able to download a template from?

In the established 3D printing world, there are plenty of online repositories where designers post their stuff and you can download it. See for example the long list at http://makingsociety.com/2013/07/37-3d-printing-marketplaces-to-share-buy-and-sell-3d-designs/

Some have a commercial bias: you charge for downloads just like music tracks or eBooks. Others such as Thingiverse make stuff freely available and better suited to the casual hobbyist willing to share.

Once the printer technology reaches a particular spot, the community - commercial and open - erupts with amazing speed.

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I printed this compressor fan for a GEXX engine in 1/72 for an ongoing project. It was printed via Print-a-Part and at the time, and five years ago, cost me about $40 or £25. While the intention was to use it as a pattern master for casting copies, the surface texture is too rough to use. Attempts to prime and sand were frustrating, and within 6 months the parts began to "oxidize" with a white powder forming on the surfaces of the original printed parts.

We use a contractor who has a machine that will do 17 micron resolution, and there are still noticeable striations evident at even the highest resolution. At present, another contractor is offering a PhotoSilver resin that is supposed to be the highest resolution medium available on a state of the art printer. The quoted cost to print a pair of 1/48 aircraft wheels was over $150 or £100.

So there are issues that will require waiting for the technology to become affordable, and to also be sure the printed material is stable over time, if you intend to print kits and assemble their parts from a device next to your computer. I don't see this as being viable (to a quality standard we're used to with injection molded parts) within the next decade, due to cost as well as quality of resolution.

Fan.jpg

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I do wonder about the print resolutions tossed about for some machines. Typically the nozzle can be positioned very finely in the X and Y axes For example 13 microns corresponds to an inkjet printer dot resolution of around 1954 dpi.

But imagine having to stack layers of paper say twenty times that thick, because the vertical or Z resolution is governed by the minimum layer thickness achievable and that is often a good bit thicker. The end result shows visible steps, no matter how accurate each layer is.

In practice, minimum layer thickness ought to be a better guide to print quality than the X-Y resolution figures so often quoted.

In the future, dynamically variable layer thickness could help to smooth out the steps.

Edited by steelpillow

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Someone was showing a "cheap " printer at Slotfestival a while back. The resolution was so bad that I laughed at whatever the blob it was printing happened to be and opined that it looked like the box ours comes in. The large crowd laughed with me and quickly dispersed, amongst mutterings to each other of "what WAS that thing it was printing". By comparison, Scalextric was showing rapid prototyped masters which did exhibit some lines, but not bad at all. Obviously they either have their own high end machine or can afford to pay somebody for high res.

I recall Paul Fisher describing the one Kinner radial cylinder he had printed as "ruinously expensive", BUT, it was a most remarkable piece of work, that I doubt I could do in brass, so fine was it. I think it proved JUST about viable to make his Ryan engine so superb, with "Kinner" printed in just one rocker cover per cylinder and all the bolt heads that hold the head on.

It WILL come, but not yet. Although I have lost three clients in the lower end of model railways to it. They seem to be willing to accept stepped, lined crap far more readily than my aircraft and car clients...thank heavens.

Cheers,

Martin

Edited by Scratchbuilder

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