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Gregsed56

3D printer for Modeling

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Hi all. First off, I apologize if my question has already been posted but since I'm new to the forum and the IPMS, having just becoming a new member maybe you all will cut me some slack....LOL...

Just kidding of course. My question is this...I just purchased a 3D printer, hoping it would help me in my modeling. Is anyone aware of sites, people, etc. that post STL files or other 3D printer files for modeling? Such as aftermarket parts for models. I'm definitely not that artistic and just a newbie when it comes to CAD programs and such. There might even be a place here in the forum for such things but being new just haven't discovered it yet. Thanks in advance for any help anyone can provide to help and point me in the right direction. HAPPY MODELING!!!

 

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To me, this is the great roadblock, at least for now, to 3D printers as practical modelling tools.  The creation of the program to make the part requires learning to use CAD. If one already has substantial computer skills, perhaps this would be quick and easy. But for the rest of us, time taken to learn such skills is time that could be spent modelling. My idea of the ideal 3D printer is one that scans a part and copies it. Such devices exist,  but must be still more expensive. Another alternative, I suppose, is to give someone with CAD skills the part or specifications and let them create the program- if that is even the correct term. There are companies on the Internet that will do such work and make the parts, but they will expect to be paid.

I admit that I get jazzed every time a Micromark catalog arrives with a 3D printer for sale. But they are expensive and I do not have the skills to program it nor the time to acquire them. Even if you paid someone to make the 3D parts for you, it would be a long time before you have spent more than the cost of the printer. 

I think the time will come when all these issues will be worked out in a much more cost friendly way for we modelers. However, is this really modelling? Assembling parts by hand or creating parts or molds for parts with handheld tools that carve and shape and refine is what modelling has historically always been. With 3D printers "some machine will be doing that for you." (Apologies to Zager and Evans.) 

 There is a particular satisfaction in taking a block of balsa or styrene and liberating a fuselage or a hull or a canopy mold from it!  Good luck.

Regards, Nick Filippone

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Go to Shapeways.com.  I had someone design the 1/192 scale American civil war figures I sell on my web site and I was very pleased.  There is a whole section there containing folks who can design the STL files for you.

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Greg,  Nick has summed up the difficulties pretty well with 3D Printing as it stands at present. To get the best from this type of equipment needs an investment both in the cost of the 3D Cad program (this could be quite expensive if looking at Solid Works, Autodesk Inventor, Solid Edge, Rhino or Pro Engineer Creo the most well known industrial 3D Cad Programs) and in a lot of time expended whilst going through the learning curve. Ready made STL files for model parts are I would guess at this point in time, very rare indeed, and the cost of having parts programmed and made by a third party very expensive.

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Noel:

There are 1000's of ready made STL files that are complete models and parts. Check out thingverse.com amongst others. Most are very reasonable. I have see full figure kit files for $15.

And for 1/350 ships, all sorts of parts to buy or print. 

 

Dave

 

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Dave ...Thanks for the update with reference to STL files that are readily available. It looks as though I very much under estimated what is out there.

I will have to look up the site you suggested, and others to see what is on offer.

Appreciate the feed back

Kind regards Noel

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Before you invest in a 3D printer and all that goes with it, you should see if you can get your hands on a part.  From what I have seen the resolution on most "home" printers is fairly low and requires a lot of work cleaning up the part to make it acceptable.   If you have been around a while, I liken it back to the early days of computer printers.  The first printers were the notorious "9 pin" printers.  They used 9 dots to create the entire alphabet and all numbers.  They were crude but did the job.  Compared to today's high resolution laser printers they were horrible.  Same thing now.  Don't buy one expecting to do fine detail work.  

Before you invest in that, learn a basic CAD program and sent the files to Solid works for printing.  They have printers that cost easily in the 6 figure range and can do fine detail work.  They are not cheap per part, but it will get you parts you can use with a minimum of cleanup.  It will also give you a solid introduction to the world of 3D printing without the costly mistake of buying your own printer and finding out it just can't do what you want it to do.  

3D printing is still in its infancy, much like computers 20 years ago.  It is getting better so rapidly that what you invest in today will rapidly become obsolete.   

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What would best serve my needs would be a service to copy a part I made myself. I friend of mine says one of our local libraries has such a device. I guess it scans the original and prints out copies. Is this for real? Nick Filippone

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I haven't used a 3D printer at the library providing your library has one at all.  To get a part made to the quality you and I want would require a pretty expensive printer which I doubt (but I may be wrong here) most libraries have the budget for.  Moreover, a good scanner to produce complex parts isn't cheap either.  Call your local library and ask what they have for public use.  Even better, check your local Vo-Tech school.  They are always wanting projects for their students.  Why would you want to scan and print an existing part when you can more easily make a mold and cast your own?  Just curious.

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Ok, Rusty! You have simultaneously shamed me and challenged me. You are right. I need to get over the hump, screw up my courage and cast it. I have done a lot of vacu-forming but it has its limitations. I do want to get into resin casting and your metaphorical glove across the cheek may be just what was called for. Thanks- I needed that! Regards, Nick

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I'll forward you my "how to" CD" covering the subject of making molds.  It covers all the same techniques I use at Flagship for making the molds here.

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I have done resin castings of various subjects over the years and have sold many of them thru my Modelers Weapons Shop website.  While 3D printing has tremendous potential for the modeler, particularly when it comes to aftermarket parts, you still need rather deep pockets.  It just isn't there yet for most of us, but it's coming.

For the moment, creating your own pattern in order to produce resin copies is still the best way to go.  At the moment.  And I say that despite the fact that I start salivating every time I see a new 3D printer show up on MicroMark or the DaVinci website.  And consider one more thing.  Unless you want to spend the money and time to learn CAD, you'll still need to create an original pattern that can be scanned to create the STL file that the 3D printer needs.

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Regarding 3D printing, my general feeling is that for most of us, the technology isn’t quite there yet. It can be useful for things like wargaming terrain, but you need a really expensive printer to produce parts with the quality required for display models. Printing to a high resolution takes a lot of machine time on a really expensive machine, and is commensurately cost-prohibitive for everything but printing small parts for conversions or making a master from which you can make a mold and cast a bunch of parts I resin. Maybe in a few years it will take off, but I do think the technology can be a little overhyped (such as the controversy in the news over the ability to print a terrible gun that is as likely to blow up in your face as it is to be effective for nefarious purposes) and I see no reason to jump on board the hype train and be an early adopter of such an expensive technology.

Regarding the question of whether 3D printing is really modelling or not, it seems as though there are some misconceptions here that it’s as simple as doing some work on a computer and telling a machine to make a model for you.

There is a guy in our local club who is working on a big 3D printing project, and it’s not like he’s just sitting on the computer until he has a 3D rendering of a motorcycle, hitting print, and taking a sip of his coffee as a perfect model comes out the other end. He has to make parts in the program, figure out how to design them so they go together, assemble them, make sure parts are strong enough to support the weight of the model (sometimes reinforcing joints with brass rod and the like), iterate on his design if it isn’t working (such as finding out the hard way that the spokes on the wheels in proper scale are too thin to support the weight of the rest of the model once it all goes together), sand off nubs from the scaffolding structures that support the model as it is being printed, and so on.

Basically, if you have access to a really expensive printer, some expensive software, and you know how to do it, you can make a pile of pretty good parts. Turning that pile of parts into an actual model still requires all the same skills as building a kit. You’re effectively just making your own kit. And, even if 3D printers could produce a perfectly accurate model in one piece with no need for assembly, sanding, filling, etc., you still need to finish it with paint, decals, etc. – no different than when I enter a one-piece or two-piece resin bust that required minimal cleanup and assembly into the figures category.

I would not feel as though it would be unfair if one of his 3D printed models was next to one of mine from a commercial kit in a competition, or that what he is doing isn’t that different than what the rest of us are doing. If anything, he’s displaying a greater level of craftsmanship and skill because he’s pretty much designing his own kit from scratch then building and finishing it, and working with materials that may not be as easy to work with as injection-molded polystyrene.

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It's actually scratch building in a computer.  In coming years, this will need to be addressed by the NCC.

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33 minutes ago, crimsyn1919 said:

Regarding 3D printing, my general feeling is that for most of us, the technology isn’t quite there yet. It can be useful for things like wargaming terrain, but you need a really expensive printer to produce parts with the quality required for display models. Printing to a high resolution takes a lot of machine time on a really expensive machine, and is commensurately cost-prohibitive for everything but printing small parts for conversions or making a master from which you can make a mold and cast a bunch of parts I resin. Maybe in a few years it will take off, but I do think the technology can be a little overhyped (such as the controversy in the news over the ability to print a terrible gun that is as likely to blow up in your face as it is to be effective for nefarious purposes) and I see no reason to jump on board the hype train and be an early adopter of such an expensive technology.

Regarding the question of whether 3D printing is really modelling or not, it seems as though there are some misconceptions here that it’s as simple as doing some work on a computer and telling a machine to make a model for you.

There is a guy in our local club who is working on a big 3D printing project, and it’s not like he’s just sitting on the computer until he has a 3D rendering of a motorcycle, hitting print, and taking a sip of his coffee as a perfect model comes out the other end. He has to make parts in the program, figure out how to design them so they go together, assemble them, make sure parts are strong enough to support the weight of the model (sometimes reinforcing joints with brass rod and the like), iterate on his design if it isn’t working (such as finding out the hard way that the spokes on the wheels in proper scale are too thin to support the weight of the rest of the model once it all goes together), sand off nubs from the scaffolding structures that support the model as it is being printed, and so on.

Basically, if you have access to a really expensive printer, some expensive software, and you know how to do it, you can make a pile of pretty good parts. Turning that pile of parts into an actual model still requires all the same skills as building a kit. You’re effectively just making your own kit. And, even if 3D printers could produce a perfectly accurate model in one piece with no need for assembly, sanding, filling, etc., you still need to finish it with paint, decals, etc. – no different than when I enter a one-piece or two-piece resin bust that required minimal cleanup and assembly into the figures category.

I would not feel as though it would be unfair if one of his 3D printed models was next to one of mine from a commercial kit in a competition, or that what he is doing isn’t that different than what the rest of us are doing. If anything, he’s displaying a greater level of craftsmanship and skill because he’s pretty much designing his own kit from scratch then building and finishing it, and working with materials that may not be as easy to work with as injection-molded polystyrene.

Been telling this to people for years.  This is not plug and play stuff.  One of the most popular programs is Solidworks and it cost just under $4,000 with and annual maintance fee of $1,300 a year.  You can get a student version for under $100 but you have to prove you are a student.  Vet's can also get a good deal.  Having said that, this is not something that the part time person can learn by themselves.  A couple of semesters at your favorite community college will get you started.

Now this is just to learn the software.  Then comes the experience end of it.  Experience is often defined as one success after a hundred failures.  The problem with the actual printing is that failures are not cheap.  As Brian said, current resolution and material strength are really not up to snuff year.  Still a great way to make a master and the resin cast a bunch of them for sale, but not really an effective way to make a single part.  It would take less time to just scratch build it at this point.  

Some day, it may get there, just not today.

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58 minutes ago, Rusty White said:

It's actually scratch building in a computer.  In coming years, this will need to be addressed by the NCC.

Been there, done that.    2018 Rules Paragraph II.2.    Concurred and unchanged for 2019

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Pete,

At the present time I agree with you.  Howsomever, things are changing at warp speed.  XYZ.com...the makers of the DaVinci 3D printers...now offer what is purported to be a high resolution hand held scanner that will produce an STL file.  No idea what their definition of high definition is, but the scanner in question is alleged to be able to scan literally anything you can walk around, including the human body, couches, pets, etc.  Price?  $250 at Best Buy.  If this thing is the real McCoy, it totally eliminates the need for CAD knowledge as long as you don't need to create a part from scratch or can't find a prototype to scan.  Of course, as you point out, there is still the time and cost of acquiring the necessary experience as well as the cost of a 3D printer capable of producing the level of quality needed for a model.  To repeat comments from others in this thread...3D printing for the average modeler ain't there yet...but it's darn sure picking up speed.

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1 hour ago, ipmsusa2 said:

Pete,

At the present time I agree with you.  Howsomever, things are changing at warp speed.  XYZ.com...the makers of the DaVinci 3D printers...now offer what is purported to be a high resolution hand held scanner that will produce an STL file.  No idea what their definition of high definition is, but the scanner in question is alleged to be able to scan literally anything you can walk around, including the human body, couches, pets, etc.  Price?  $250 at Best Buy.  If this thing is the real McCoy, it totally eliminates the need for CAD knowledge as long as you don't need to create a part from scratch or can't find a prototype to scan.  Of course, as you point out, there is still the time and cost of acquiring the necessary experience as well as the cost of a 3D printer capable of producing the level of quality needed for a model.  To repeat comments from others in this thread...3D printing for the average modeler ain't there yet...but it's darn sure picking up speed.

Agreed.  As I mentioned it is much like going from the old 9 pin printer(nine dots to make all characters) to injet/laser printers.  It happened very quickly and the tech was tremendous.  I will add to what you said though.  Scanning is only a small part of creating a part.  You still have to manage bridges in the final printout.  You can't print material in thin air, and with complex part tying all the parts together can be a challenge.  Also because most printers use heat as part of the process, part will sagg without support.  Knowing how and where to do that is critical.  Yes they are getting easier. 

 Image result for 3D printing bridges still attached 

Edited by PeteJ

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Interesting comments about 3D printing. One poster described programming the parts and making them on a 3D printer as craftsmanship. Sorry, but I beg to differ. Craftsmanship is having the ability to make something from raw materials.

3D printing is still a long way off with regard to being viable both in cost and quality.

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11 minutes ago, noelsmith said:

Interesting comments about 3D printing. One poster described programming the parts and making them on a 3D printer as craftsmanship. Sorry, but I beg to differ. Craftsmanship is having the ability to make something from raw materials.

3D printing is still a long way off with regard to being viable both in cost and quality.

 

I think you may have misinterpreted me. The point was, turning the output from a 3D printer into a finished model requires the same skill and level of craftsmanship as turning a box full of sprues into a finished model. Possibly even more given some of the unique challenges with working with 3D printer materials.

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Brian, thanks for the feed back. I was comparing 3D printing to scratch building and making parts by hand. It looks as though I misinterpreted that the amount of finishing off required afterwards does need considerable normal kit building and finishing skills as you rightly pointed out.

Edited by noelsmith

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On 12/18/2018 at 9:48 AM, noelsmith said:

Interesting comments about 3D printing. One poster described programming the parts and making them on a 3D printer as craftsmanship. Sorry, but I beg to differ. Craftsmanship is having the ability to make something from raw materials.

3D printing is still a long way off with regard to being viable both in cost and quality.

Think about what you said.  The only real difference  your quote described is the "raw materials".  I propose that liquefied resin or whatever material you print with used by the 3D printer, is a "raw material".

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Rusty, agreed that the spoils used on a 3D printer are a raw material.

Your suggestion about think about what I said,  I should have elaborated a bit more about craftsmanship from my perspective as a person having the ability to make things by hand from raw materials rather than kits. Model making as opposed to model building. For example Gerald Wingrove to me is a craftsman model maker making everything from scratch. Model builders on the other hand, no.matter how good have the benefit of a kit of ready made parts to work on  as a basis.

Edited by noelsmith

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FWIW, I used to scratch build my parts with conventional materials before I moved to 3D production (I own a model company).  So I also added operating the 3D CAD program as well as operating the 3D printer to my line of expertise above and beyond scratch building just to get the final product ready for production.

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