Author Topic: 3D Printers  (Read 14042 times)

Offline GTX_Admin

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3D Printers
« on: December 21, 2011, 04:43:26 PM »
Hi folks,

Has anyone looked into desktop 3D printers as an adjunct to modeling?  I am interested in them and would keen to hear others thoughts.

Regards,

Greg
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Offline Litvyak

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Re: 3D Printers
« Reply #1 on: December 21, 2011, 04:49:43 PM »
I've used a 3D printing service and have seen others' similar projects, and I have to say: with the right choice of material and a good quality 3D drawing, it can be a very useful thing! I've contemplated using it to make conversion parts for an AltCan CF-108 and for other projects, even for complete "kits"... just a matter of drawing the 3D to be printed.
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Offline Frank3k

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Re: 3D Printers
« Reply #2 on: December 22, 2011, 12:33:05 AM »
If you want to do 3D printing as a hobby in itself,  then sure - there are very low end machines that you can make or buy for around $1K, but the parts are not model ready. For about $2K you can make a better UV curing poly machine.

 If what you want is to design a part in a 3D program and produce a model part without worrying about the minutiae of the steps in between, then 3D printing is absolutely not something you want to do at home. It's expensive, time consuming and requires a fair amount of tweaking and experience to get a good result.
If you want a model part, the cheapest fastest and least frustrating method is to send it off to a printing bureau like Shapeways. Their high end Frosted Detail and Frosted Ultra Detail is the way to go. The printed parts will still have some steps in them, but in most cases they'll be nearly invisible under a coat of paint or easily dealt with with some light sanding and polishing.
Their detail material also works, but the results will require a fair amount of sanding to remove the printing steps.

The 1/350 Bonestell Moonrocket I posted over on the Whatif forum was made using their clear detail material.
This 1/350 scale UFO from the "Invaders" TV series was also done in their clear detail material; you can clearly see the steps. Some of the fine details are obscured by the printing artifacts. The saucer is about 65mm in dia.:



I haven't printed this in the Frosted detail yet, but it'll probably be ready to go out of the printer.
In the US, another company that does small printing orders for modelers is PCS Engineering. They have a printer with an even higher resolution than the best Shapeways has to offer. Their parts are ready to go right off the printer. When I made the clear engines for the Leif Ericson, I printed out a copy at PCS for Round 2 to use in their display model.
This is the original kit's engine above my copy, which is in the new re-issue:


Obviously this is styrene, but the PCS parts were almost as smooth as this.

frank
« Last Edit: December 22, 2011, 12:35:39 AM by Frank3k »

Offline GTX_Admin

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Re: 3D Printers
« Reply #3 on: December 22, 2011, 09:50:33 AM »
This is the type of system I have been looking at:  http://www.bitsfrombytes.com/

Add in a 3D scanner and you have some interesting possibilities...
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Offline Frank3k

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Re: 3D Printers
« Reply #4 on: December 22, 2011, 10:15:53 AM »
Greg, Those printers are not going to get adequate for model work, unless you're making very simple parts for very large scale models. The resolution is just too low.
Even the lowest resolution printers at Shapeways are far better than the RepRap or equivalent hobbyist printers.

To get reasonable model parts, you'd need something like a Projet or Objet printer. The UFO above was printed on an Objet printer at high speed (lower resolution) at the lower speed/higher resolution, the steps were still there, just not as bad.

We're talking $15000 printers. Plus the material (expensive).

Offline GTX_Admin

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Re: 3D Printers
« Reply #5 on: December 25, 2011, 07:51:57 AM »
Thanks Frank.  I typically play in 1/48 or 1/35 so I wonder how those would go?   I also wonder how one would go printing a part, then giving it a primer coat or similar to smooth everything out and then scribe in any finer details?
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Offline Frank3k

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Re: 3D Printers
« Reply #6 on: December 25, 2011, 10:18:42 AM »
Thanks Frank.  I typically play in 1/48 or 1/35 so I wonder how those would go?


Nothing at the "home" level would look good for anything under 1:1.... and maybe not even then!

Right now, Shapeways is the best way to go if you want to experiment. They ship worldwide and they're pretty inexpensive (in part because they're backed by Philips) They have a materials samples kit which covers their more common materials. It's $30US but includes a $25 discount coupon.
Based on the samples listed, the Frosted Ultra Detail, White Detail and Black Detail are the only ones worth considering for models. The White Strong and Flexible is a possibility, but it's composed of sintered nylon particles, so no amount of sanding will remove the grain. For this material, you have to coat it in primer (often many applications, since it'll soak up the primer) then sand away.

Quote from: GTX_Admin
I also wonder how one would go printing a part, then giving it a primer coat or similar to smooth everything out and then scribe in any finer details?


1 - in a 3D program, make the part, then export the part in a file format that Shaepways will recognize. STL is the standard.
2- use a program like the free version of Netfabb to check your STL file and make sure that your object is water-tight and printable.
3 - Look at the Shapeways materials web page and make sure that you've met or exceeded their minimum design requirements for wall thickness and details. Their design limits are usually well above the limits of the machines; this is done to decrease the printing time (fewer parts that need to be re-printed) and lowering the cost.
4 - upload the part and have them print it in the material of your choice. With luck, it'll pass their checks and after a week or two, you'll get your part.

From experience, the loop between steps 3 & 4 will take up most of your design time. They will reject parts for even tiny deviations from their design rules.

Typically, the white detail can reproduce details down to 0.2mm, so you can include quite a bit of detail. The only problem is that the printing artifacts will require a fair amount of PSR and that'll wipe out some of the finer details.

 Just for that, the Frosted Ultra detail parts are the way to go. Not only are details down to 0.1mm, depending on the part, they may only require a minimum amount of sanding and a regular coat of primer will be enough to eliminate the printing artifacts.

Look at the parts samples for Frosted detail and Frosted Ultra Detail: http://www.shapeways.com/materials/frosted_detail

The tracked gear is painted, the truck is unpainted. From the looks of it, I wouldn't bother to do any sanding - it looks ready for painting. The printing artifacts here are the slightly grainy appearance and on the tires and faint lines on the sides.


The main reason why you can't make an exact prediction on the amount of work that these parts will require once you get them back is because the printing orientation is up to Shapeways (they bunch together several orders and print them all in one batch), so the artifacts may be more or less obvious, depending on how the part was printed.

Frank


Offline Jeffry Fontaine

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Re: 3D Printers
« Reply #7 on: November 23, 2013, 01:01:19 AM »
engadget.com - Solidoodle 4 keeps 3D printing under $1,000 (video)

solidoodle.com web page Out-of-the-box 3D Printing starting at just $499 for the Solidoodle 2 3D Printer. 

Not sure about the material used for creating the objects.  I know it is a plastic of some kind but is it compatible with the paints, adhesives and glues that we normally use for model building?  Still, a 3D printer for under $1000.00 is certainly attractive but what is the cost of the material needed to create your 3D printed objects?  The video below states that the material used is ABS plastic.  Not very familiar with that myself but perhaps others have more experience with it.  The printing material is $43.00 for a spool that weighs 2.0 pounds.  So depending on the project size, your material consumption may impact on the overall cost to create the printed object. 

solidoodle.com FaceBook page

Solidoodle 2 3D Printer
Solidoodle 2 3D Printer
« Last Edit: November 23, 2013, 01:24:41 AM by Jeffry Fontaine »
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Offline jcf

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Re: 3D Printers
« Reply #8 on: November 23, 2013, 02:31:38 AM »
It's another melted plastic wire build-up machine with moderate resolution,
okay for tchotchkes but you'd need to sand it for plamo purposes, unless
you work the texture into the design.

ABS is the material used in the majority of Plastruct architectural shapes,
it uses strong solvent glues and can be painted. However it's working
properties are quite a bit different from the HIPS (high impact polystyrene)
beloved of plamo folks.

ABS is more rubbery than polystyrene, don't let the styrene in the name fool
ya, styrene monomer is the predecessor of a number of compound, not just
HIPS.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acrylonitrile_butadiene_styrene

Frankly I still don't see 3-D printers as truly useful to the average modeller,
combine the learning curve of proper CADD modeling with the cost of the
equipment and to me it makes more sense to just practice your kit-bashing,
PSR, and simple scratch-building skills. Even if you totally mess up the new
part, what are you out? Maybe a couple of bucks in material and the time you
spent, but, it's your hobby is it not? So the time wasn't wasted and the failure
at least taught you what not to do, so when you start over you are better informed.



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Offline GTX_Admin

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Re: 3D Printers
« Reply #9 on: November 23, 2013, 02:35:52 AM »
Right at the moment my focus is upon such printers that can print Inconel, Titanium, Aluminium etc... ;)
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Offline GTX_Admin

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Re: 3D Printers
« Reply #10 on: November 23, 2013, 02:39:07 AM »
Frankly I still don't see 3-D printers as truly useful to the average modeller,
combine the learning curve of proper CADD modeling with the cost of the
equipment and to me it makes more sense to just practice your kit-bashing,
PSR, and simple scratch-building skills.

I agree that is the case at this stage.  I do envisage a point in the future though where things may be different.  Either through better software, the ability to purchase & download 'patterns' from model companies or perhaps a growing industry of 'pattern' designers who simply sell the downloadable file for others to use in their printers.  Of course, printers will also need to be improved although that is happening.
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Offline Frank3k

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Re: 3D Printers
« Reply #11 on: November 23, 2013, 03:44:28 AM »
Greg -  Shapeways can print metals (steel, silver, brass, bronze) but I doubt the prints have the accuracy or durability required to last in a rocket engine or a jet.

Home 3D printing with the surface resolution the typical hobbyist imagines (or would accept) is many years or a decade  or more away. If you're also a 3D printer hobbyist, you can make one now for a few thousand $... but the time and money overhead of operating a 3D printer would be a real drag.

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Re: 3D Printers
« Reply #12 on: November 23, 2013, 03:51:23 AM »
My requirements are not something Shapeways can help with.  I am talking about producing real aircraft/gas turbine components... ;)
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Offline Volkodav

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Re: 3D Printers
« Reply #13 on: November 23, 2013, 06:13:36 AM »
My requirements are not something Shapeways can help with.  I am talking about producing real aircraft/gas turbine components... ;)
when you've sorted that you could have a conversation with a certain submarine builder / maintainer about hull penetrations

Offline tankmodeler

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Re: 3D Printers
« Reply #14 on: December 02, 2013, 03:50:20 AM »
My requirements are not something Shapeways can help with.  I am talking about producing real aircraft/gas turbine components... ;)
Worked as a dedsign engineer for Pratt & WHitney Canada for 15 years and have also bought many, many components made from most of the metals available to 3D rapid prototyper.

Unless you are talking, possibly, some of the cold end cases, the strength and fracture toughness simply isn't there for any of these materials for real life uses. Even hobby gas turbines for a model jet. At the small scale of the hobby turbines, the truely horrible surface finish of the parts will significantly reduce performance. And a single discontinuity in a stressed part will result in failure much earlier than any homogeneous part.

If you are looking to make something like a gearbox or front frame or inlet case, then, maybe  (maybe) you can get away with it acknowledging the hit you'll take due to surface finish and inaccuracies. If you use the parts as preforms for final machining or plating operations to improve properties, accuracy or finishes, that can save a lot of money, but it will cost a LOT of money. Not what I'd think of as hobby levels of funding.

And don't even think of these materials for any of the rotating components. Simply not on. The blades will fail massively due to fatique and/or impact fracture if the engine ingests a bit of sand.

The technology is just not at this level yet.

Paul