3D Printing

kshep Oct 14, 2019

  1. Chris333

    Chris333 TrainBoard Supporter

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    The PhotonS has dual rails and a different UV light matrix. The sliced files are .photons instead of .phonton and so some of the free software out there doesn't work on PhotonS files. So the S model as less support out there. Some say it is better to get a regular Photon and upgrade it to dual rails.

    I really don't know myself which model is better.

    Theoretically upgrading the UV light could get you shorter burn times and speed up a print. But they say that will shorten the life of the LCD screen.

    Then again at the low price it is worth it to find out. If mine died right now after less than a year I would still say it was worth it and just buy another. That and parts are available for these so you have a chance to fix them.
     
  2. RobertAllbritton

    RobertAllbritton TrainBoard Member

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    Just one person's experience here:

    1) I have ZERO experience with the Photon, or any DLP SLA printers.
    2) Forget the FDM Printers (Makerbot) - pretty useless in Z scale.
    3) I've worked with 4 SLA printers: Pegasus by FSLaser, FormLabs 1+, 2 and 3
    4) I use the 3d printers for both my own personal creations, and for rapid prototypes of AZL's products, so this is a semi-professional application. Money is important, but quality results are even more important.

    The best printer the I have used is the Formlabs Form2 (NOT the new Form3!)

    1) Incredible resolution and results. Walls are dead flat. No layer lines can be seen. This is true on spheres as well. Edges are true and sharp. I can print handrails down to 150% of what you can do with etched metal. Yes, etching will be better for things like chain link fences, or screens, but that's about it.
    2) It works right out of the box. No adjustments needed. This is VERY important because technical specifications on SLA printers are only correct if the printer is properly set up. Remember, you are focusing an image or laser on the bottom of a transparent surface. The UV light will harden the resin one layer at a time. If that laser or image is just a tiny fraction out of focus, your resolution goes to hell pretty quickly. It will print, but like a photograph just a touch our of focus, everything looks a bit fuzzy.
    3) Formlabs has an incredible library of materials. They have resins that can substitute for Clear Acrylic, ABS, POM, Rubber, Casting Wax, or pre-colored plastic.
    4) Build area is very generous. Larger than most 3d Printers.
    5) Support is serious, and the software is excellent. Remember that model orientation and supports are a big part of 3d printing. Formlabs software automatically checks and corrects for watertight models, and identifies cups and overhangs.
    6) Formlabs is EXPENSIVE - The Photon is a bargan (cheap?) - but in this case, I really think you get what you pay for.
    7) The new Form3 has the potential to be better than the Form2, but they are still dialing in the software for it. At the moment, I find it does not print as crisply as the Form2. The Form3 is also about 15% slower than the Form2.

    Lastly,
    I've been using Formlabs printers for years now (I think I may have mentioned the Form1 to Robert Ray in Portland) I am VERY happy that folks are discovering SLA printing because ALL forms of it are better than Shapeways!!!
     
  3. rray

    rray Staff Member

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    Rob, I really like the resin cartridge style of the Form3. But I still have to learn how to draw 3D models first, and the best way I can see is to start with a cheap setup, learn to draw 3D starting with structure foundations, crates, and brickwork, and eventually pushing the skillset till I can make the 50's style automobiles I want in bulk. By the time I am good enough to do that, they might have the Form 4+ out. :D
     
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  4. Heay Equipment Designer

    Heay Equipment Designer TrainBoard Member

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    I've had pretty good results with FUD since you can now dictate and save print orientation. Secret is you have to design for it. All my detailed and flat surfaces I try to make facing up when printed. This gives nice flat surfaces with basically no step over marks and crisp details. Support material shows up on undercuts. So I try to avoid having undercuts in visible areas. But this also means my models are divided up into many parts. I'm OK with that because I like it for painting and finishing reasons. So if you dont like a lot of small parts, you wont like building my models. But that's really what it has to be if you want good printed parts from FUD no matter who prints the parts.

    Red shows where all the support material will effect parts. You can see where I divided in half the upper housing of the crane and carbody along with a separate panel for the rear of the upper housing. This is so that the support material will not effect detailed areas. Also cylinders print more round when printed standing up on the build table. Deep parting line details also help.

    Untitled-1.jpg

    The other secret is Dupilcolor filler primer (FP101). I use it on all my models of all scales. It has a super fine filler meant to be wet sanded to 1000+ grit sand paper for repair auto body work. So it works really well with Z gauge. It builds up thin layers without losing detail. Spray my parts with a few coats and step marks on curved surfaces either disappear or are easily sanded down. I'm real happy with having not a lot of finishing time on parts and getting pretty good end results. Only thing not printed on this model is the flatcar body and trucks for the idler car and the chain and wheel sets on the idler car. Foot rails on the idler car are also not FUD but instead copper wire. Otherwise its all FUD from shapeways.

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    Down side to using FUD from shapeways, fragile, time and warped parts... I really need to start making etched metal parts for grab rails, foot rails and what not. That would go a very long way for making my models a lot less fragile. Never done etching before. So its a matter of finding time to learn and find a good vendor to etch the parts.

    Time, it takes time to get parts... Its like the old days of printed film, you never know what you get until the film is developed. Same with new parts printed at shapeways or any outside vendor. You really dont know if the parts are perfect the first time around until you get them several days later. I'm self employed so work keeps me really busy. I might have time to play today but not 10 days later when the parts come in the mail. So projects that should take a few days can get delayed to several months until free time opens up again. I have several half done projects started several months ago the last time work was slow. If I had my own printer, I could really get a lot more done and in a much more timely manner.

    Shapeways rushes things so parts do come in warped from time to time. Not just thin parts but large structural parts that should not warp at all. I suspect this is in the curing process. I've had FUD parts done with other vendors and never had a problem with warped parts. But its also a lot more expensive. There are all kinds of tricks out there to un-warp the parts and I have tried them all. It works for a little while but parts eventually go back to their warped state. I have also found the same problem with brass parts. Those at least you can bend back. I suspect the warping happens when they print the wax master.

    I view Shapeways as the Walmart of 3D printing. For better or worse, you get what you pay for when it comes to small z scale models. And if you design accordingly, you can get pretty good results. Its not cheap. But a lot cheaper than any other vendor I have fond that does FUD. I do like having a store on shapeways. Markup made from each sale is next to nothing. But it allows me to share my models with other folks without a lot of hassle on my end.

    -Jon
     
    Last edited: Oct 27, 2019
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  5. Heay Equipment Designer

    Heay Equipment Designer TrainBoard Member

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    Robert,

    thank you for all this good info. I really like what I hear. Your right, it is not a cheap setup. But your also right that time is money... I can see being a lot more productive with this. I hope you dont mind if I ask a few questions. Do you have to design your parts a certain way like you do with FUD in order to get decent prints? I like to divide my models up with lots of separate small detail parts and pieces. Since this uses support structure when printing that needs to be removed post printing, are separate small parts and parts on part trees (as seen bellow image) a nightmare to print and remove the support structures?

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    How stable are the parts? Do parts like the screen on the door (.3mm diameter size wire for the screen) on the model bellow hard to print without warping? and would they be a nightmare to remove the support structure post printing? You can see how the screen is a bit warped on the rear ROPS sweep which is all one part. Door and ROPS sweep were printed in FUD.

    Right now my grab rails and foot rails for z scale printed in FUD are .3mm diameter (as seen in image above) and they are very fragile. Can you print hand rails that small and are they less brittle than FUD?

    My last question is cost for material. Is it expensive when printing multiple parts? The model bellow has 82 separate track pads. Its 1/25th scale. So they are not small parts but also not huge. Printed in FUD at shapeways, it costs about $141 dollars for 100 track pads. I realize its hard to price something without seeing the parts in CAD but on a guesstimate do you think material cost would be significantly cheaper? If so, that could go a long way with justifying the cost for this printer. The screen doors and ROPS sweep were also very expensive to print in FUD at shapeways.

    Thanks,

    -Jon

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  6. Heay Equipment Designer

    Heay Equipment Designer TrainBoard Member

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    Robert,

    thank you for sharing all this info and taking the time to research it. I really like your idea of scanning cars. Scaled down heavy equipment is fun for me to model. But I hate modeling cars, scaling them down and modifying them so they can be printed. So your idea of using a scanner would make it a lot less painful. Even if the model has to be redrawn in CAD, all the surfacing info is there. Would make for much faster CAD work to get a clean crisp model.

    I could also see the scanner being used to scan Marklin steam locomotive chassis to accurately model American prototype steam locomotive shells for brass prints. Would save a lot of time and money on test print parts for fitting.

    Could also scan MTL cars like cabooses. You could then make custom body parts like a new caboose cupola that fits in place of MTL's and fits perfectly on the first print.

    Its been about 20 years since I have used scanning technology to reverse engineer. It was expensive and not that good unless you spent a lot of money... I'm sure the standard of quality is much better now. But what about the price? Have you priced out any scanners yet?

    Thanks,

    -Jon
     
  7. Heay Equipment Designer

    Heay Equipment Designer TrainBoard Member

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    My guess is that its all about what position the part is printed when the wax master is made. If that's the case and its like FUD, the good crisp prints are probably when the shell is printed on its side. That way the side detail on the locomotive shell is facing up on one side and down the other. Surfaces would print nice and flat without step over marks and the detail would come out nice and crisp. If that's the case, then you have 2 chances out of 6 that the shell will be printed on either side to get the best print. Not very good odds if you think about it. But I could be totally wrong about that. Regardless, I agree with you 100%, the brass parts are a bargain for what you get and they are good enough. Your locomotive shells really do look great.

    Thanks,

    -Jon
     
  8. Chris333

    Chris333 TrainBoard Supporter

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    My last Shapeways order took around a month to show up. And they ask you to pay an extra fee to "hurry up", I feel like I'm tipping the door man at a club... I used to get orders from them in less than a week. They started using UPS mail innovations for shipping. So the UPS hands off to the post office, The post office just doesn't care because it is a UPS package. Sometimes orders will sit at the PO for a few days with no movement. Before all this they just used the PO for shipping and it was much faster. I've complained about this on their own forums and they said they didn't think they were getting the service needed from the PO.

    Plus another problem I have with FUD is over time (months) the model will start to form fine crystals that look like metal flake. Shapeways cannot tell me why this is happening and their only suggestion was to soak all the parts in warm corn oil before cleaning. In fact if you download the instructions for the machine Shapeways is using it will tell you the same thing. But I cannot really see any improvement using the corn oil.
    https://www.therailwire.net/forum/index.php?topic=43110.msg548660#msg548660
    https://www.therailwire.net/forum/index.php?topic=43110.0


    Shapeways was a start up company with investors. The first few years they were burning through their start up money that was raised. They realized this was not making a profit and that is when the first price increases started... and they just kept going.

    Not knocking anyone for still using Shapeways, but it was them that forced me to buy my own printer. I can get a print in 5 hours instead of 28 days.
     
  9. rray

    rray Staff Member

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    I have looked at several 3D scanners over the years, and the price is going down, but slower than the printers. I like the Matter & Form scanners, with a rotating table and 100um resolution at the scanned size, which has to fit in a 7" horizontal by 9" vertical area on their rotating platform. About $800ish last time I looked, and they output in all the popular formats. But with 100um resolution, even an HO scale model shrunk to Z would be at the limit of the best printers capability. There are other good scanners out there but the better ones are between $1000 and $3000. I don't want a handheld type, I like the rotating table type myself.
     
  10. markm

    markm TrainBoard Supporter

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    I was wondering if anyone has looked into companies other than Shapeways to do their printing? I'm regularly getting offers from 3D Systems, Fathom and Protolabs to print my design. The last one even offering to print a 100 shot "prototype" mold.

    Mark
     
  11. Chris333

    Chris333 TrainBoard Supporter

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    I found 2 of the same FUD machines Shapeways uses within 10-15 miles of my house, but I never tried to get something printed by them. I'd imagine they have big contracts for large orders and if I walk in with a tiny little file it might not be worth their time.
     
  12. markm

    markm TrainBoard Supporter

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    I don't have experience with any of them and I'm not planning to add 3D printing to my plate. Fathom bills themselves as a "makers" company. They all have a "upload a design and we'll quote you" pages. Might be worth a try.

    I just got an email from Goengineer, a multistate operation, pushing their new Sttratsys J850 system with multicolor, multi-material single pass capability. Since they have a facility in Rancho Cordova, I may try wandering in there next time I'm down that way.

    Mark
     
  13. Cactus

    Cactus TrainBoard Member

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    I printed this part of a station this afternoon. I took an HO-s
    cale plan from the web, scaled it to 39.5% to make it Z-scale. It took 2 hours to print. I will be printing the other parts -- roof, decks, railings, window frames, foundation, etc. in the next day or two.

    That's not bad for only my third print ever--I bought the printer last week. The first two prints were sample files to help me get the machine set up. It'll get better as I tweak the settings for the resin I'm using. IMG_4284.jpeg
     
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  14. bostonjim

    bostonjim TrainBoard Member

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    You are off to a good start. Are the small openings for lighting? Jim
     
  15. southernnscale

    southernnscale TrainBoard Supporter

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    this one printed at Shapeways small station Z scale. You model looks good only difference is I did mine in one piece! not easy to paint. I like your Ideal better! nice job!

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    Last edited: Nov 1, 2019
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  16. rray

    rray Staff Member

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    I like the idea of printing a lot of small parts better than the one complete print, because painting is better, and I think you can get finer details with individual parts. Also, don't be afraid to mix and match materials used. Etched brass or stainless parts, real wire grab irons, EZ line or braided fishing line for cables, etc. Use Campbell- Rusty Stumps - Rail Scale Models type roofing Shingles, or print your own onto brown paper bag material and cut in strips.

    The point I am trying to make is by using a lot of different suitable materials, and not compromising by mixing scale parts with out of scale parts, your models will look finer scale.

    Z Scale has been recently bombarded by companies flooding us with lumpy out of scale, and overly uniform brightly colored products lately, and I fear it is having the effect of biasing our expectations towards toy-like models, instead of properly colored finescale models and scenery with variations in look and color. Bulk priced neon glow symmetrical trees have displaced Architrees and JTT, Lumpy background people in all 8 glorious poses have replaced Noch and Priser super detailed people, and GIGA-LUMPY FDM structures and vehicles are replacing Miller Engineering and Micron Art etched brass.

    Time to take a stand and NOT accept bright uniform neon colors on semi-transparent trunk symmetricaly shaped trees. No more ladders and grab irons as scale thick as reaching for a row of 4 inch diameter welded together Campbells chunky soup cans when 4 thousandths brass wire makes a more convincing grab or ladder. There is a proper use case for all the available technologies out there, it's just that you have to mix and match materials to get what each material simulates or models best.

    Also, don't be afraid to try new ideas like printing walls flat and window mullions flat, filling up the maximum build platform as low as possible to keep your times and costs lower, and make painting individual detail parts easier, then glue them all together afterwards. Real world prototypes were built by welding and riviting, nailing and bolting together stacks of flat materials, or boxes of parts.

    Sorry to sound like a rant, I'm not really ranting, I just believe we are not yet utilizing our true potential as modelers by trying to do the whole thing in one print. You guys have excellent talent in utilizing the 3D printers to make the models you want, but trying to save assembly time is costing you in painting time, and there is no way to avoid overpainting the lines in Z, other than having layers of individually painted parts added later.
     
  17. eaelec

    eaelec TrainBoard Member

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    As a Form 2 owner I'd like to point out, It's not just the printer itself that is expensive. The consumables, resins and resin trays are also expensive. I didn't mind so much back in 2017 when I started because the quality of the standard black and grey were very good. This is no longer the case, the V4 black resin has problems and the v4 grey is completely useless for small parts. That's why I have switched to a 3rd party grey resin but still have not found a good substitute for the black.
    Then there is the issue of service for a printer that's out of warranty. The only spare parts that Formlabs will sell you are the resin tray and the build platform. If anything else goes, you either have to fix it on your own or ship it back to Formlabs and for $800 US dollars (plus the cost of shipping it there and back) they will send you a used refurbished printer.
    For my next printer I'm looking at the Moai which you can build yourself from a kit.
     
  18. southernnscale

    southernnscale TrainBoard Supporter

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    I have been at it since 2013 3D printing Z scale models and have seen several changes. and material has been one. I have also checked several other 3D printing services and found Shapeway the best price and many types of material. But time has been extended with there printing. It used to be about two weeks now it's close to a month. I did a set of twin Stack Container cars. I know that the plastic is light weight and doing brass seem to be the right thing to do. but with brass you have to enlarge parts to get them to pass there manual check! my first thing was to check my STL and see what I need to enlarge found the bounding box was smaller then the Smooth fine detailed plastic. I had to re-arrange the cars to fit the box. They had to be put side to side and at a 30 degree angle to fit the bounding box. There are 4 cars in the set. with Smooth Fine detailed plastic the four cars cost $47.00. The after fixing them the price in the same material went to $120.00 and the brass model is going to be $190.00. But that doesn't mean they will be the best I have the four car already in hand in plastic! Now some of the home printer seem to have good printing quality. and cost less to make and don't have to have to worry about shipping! The double stack container car are not painted and hold the 53ft containers.
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  19. Cactus

    Cactus TrainBoard Member

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    The openings are for seating what the model calls "roof supports." I'd say they are corbels that support the underside of the roof overhang.

    I downloaded an HO-scale .STL file from Thingiverse and reduced it to Z-scale (39.5%). I have now printed more parts and am learning how to prime and paint them before assembly.
     
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2019
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