Jump to content

3D-printing for modellers?

Recommended Posts

I don't know if the subject has already been treated before.  If not, I really think this is worth looking at.  To duplicate guns, or gun carriages, or ornamental figures, make extra anchors, or to replace a lost, missing or broken piece.


The first "3D copies" I saw were rather rough looking, but I am sure the technique has improved in the meantime.  One question though: how small duplicable detail can be rendered?  At what cost?  


I recently was rather surprised to see such a printer on sale in a warehouse (Makro in Belgium) at around 1000,-€, but I have no idea what the actual cost of materials is.


My questions: has anyone tried this new technique?  Are there any 3D copy shops, and was is the resulting quality?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Pat Matthews is speaking at the upcoming contest at the WI Maritime Museum about researching and doing up a 1/8 scale Hicks engine in which he used many 3D printed parts.  Pat's something of an expert in 3D modeling using it daily in his job as a Ford engine designer/engineer as well as his very fine models. 

Pat has done presentations at the museum and at NRG Conferences on the subject of 3D printing.  There are many process and no single process is best for all applications.  Pat provided information on the variety of processes and what systems to use for applications in an article in the NRG’s Nautical Research Journal – Summer 2014 – Vol 59-2 (downloadable article [PDF] available from the NRG Office for $2.50).

Pat has won gold awards at Manitowoc for his models that have included many 3D parts while one was almost entirely from 3D parts.  The contest rules allow Photo Etch and 3D in scratch built categories when the modeler does the drawings/masters used for the processes.  Two of his models with 3D parts are below - the big searchlight on the seaplane tender is lathe turned - the rest of the model is almost exclusively 3D printed parts.

The contest info is here on MSW at the following link - https://modelshipworld.com/index.php?/topic/15799-wi-maritime-museums-41st-annual-model-ships-and-boats-contest/




Link to comment
Share on other sites

Various plastics and metals but have never heard of wood being used.  I don't think using wood is possible due to the additive nature of the process, building up the shape.  But, who had heard of 3D printing just a few years ago?  A shape can be carved out of wood using CNC controlled lasers and/ or mills in a subtractive manner.  Pat has made 1/200 scale anchor chain with the bars that is individual links all together as if it was welded chain.  Some gentle tumbling and then paint - incredibly intricate. 



Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 3 weeks later...

This topic is going to be at the top of everyone's list soon. For those people who are already making their own parts, what is your favorite software? I am considering downloading Z-Brush, as it looks like it can do the organic stuff for figureheads, etc, but there may be others. 






Link to comment
Share on other sites

I use SketchUp as my main 3D software, with DesignCAD as my drafting software. I have a thread on going from 2D to 3D that I did last year, in the forum, see my signiture below. What you can print, depends on the size of the parts. I was able to 3D print hand powered oyster dredge winches, about 3 X 2 foot, in 1/64th scale, but not the pipe dredge frames.


For Shapeways the minimum floor/wall thickness, in their Frosted Detail plastic is .3mm, with wire minimum about 3X that thick. Long thin parts have a tendency to warp.


I've also printed HO scale steam locomotive tender frames, in one of their cheaper plastics, and oil hatches for the tender tank top.

Link to comment
Share on other sites



Are you using your own printer or just Shapeways? I want to get my own and I've narrowed the search to the Formlabs 2. It seems like the right technology for organic surfaces like ships' decorations. 


I guess my question should have been Z-brush, Mudbox, or Maya? I already have software for manufactured items. I'm looking for software for carved and sculpted items now. 







Link to comment
Share on other sites

3D printing, or Additive Manufacturing is really taking off now.

There are now a huge range of metals that can be used, at work we are switching a lot of manufactured parts to AM.

I recently saw an example of a 130 part Aero engine welded sub assembly converted to a single AM part.

Our products often require a complex wire hole to be routed though a difficult shape.

That involves drilling holes at odd angles, machining pockets that then get welded closed etc.

A great candidate for AM, the path is now nicely swept and requires no post machining.

But it get's better.

This will really blow your mind.

We are researching AM for the basic part with through hole (Stainless)

Then a second AM process with an insulating medium to line the through hole.

Then a third AM process with copper to put a conductor into the insulation.

Hey presto no need to run a wire at all, it's all printed.

It looks like AM dual materials is going to be a big one going forward.



Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 1 month later...


Sorry I couldn't make it to Manitowoc to give that talk!


My advice to any fine modeler: Do NOT waste money on "affordable" home 3D printers... they are frustrating to use, and produce poor quality parts. Instead, take your designs to a commercial house like Shapeways or iMaterialise, where they have spent MILLIONS on top quality equipment... parts will come out quickly and much nicer than anything a home machine can produce.


Here is my latest 3DP project, an animated Hicks marine engine in 1:8 scale. Mostly 3D printed, with a little PE and traditional machining. Even the brass parts, including the prop, were 3D printed. Well actually, the waxes were printed, and then fed into the traditional investment casting process. 







Link to comment
Share on other sites

And ANOTHER thing... these outfits (like Shapeways) have set up so that you can sell your own designs in your own shop... they handle the web work, order taking and fulfillment, and send you a check every month. Sweet.

I got started in it just to make my range of cowl vents available... those nasty little vents, about the hardest part to make on any ship model!


The examples below are on a 1:32 ocean salvage tug.




Link to comment
Share on other sites

Will use a quote, as it describes it better than I could.


" As its name indicates, 5-axis machining uses a tool which moves in five different directions corresponding to the 3 linear X, Y and Z axes, to which are added two axes, A and B, around which the tool rotates. With such a configuration, the part can be approached from all directions and can be worked from five sides in a single operation.

Unlike 3-axis machining, this technique is extremely suitable for deeper parts made from harder materials, and it guarantees a high degree of precision due to using shorter machining tools. The machining speed is also faster, while tool vibration is reduced."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Yes, that's what it is.


But two topics here:


1. For any CNC machine, one starts with a 3D CAD model of a part. This is fed into some sort of tool path generating software, wherein you define the part's orientation and the size of the rough blank. Using the s/w, you then define what the rough and finishing cuts look like, based on the cutting tools used... the s/w generates the path that the cutting tool will follow. For simple 3-axis mills (including router tables with an adjustable Z-axis), I believe there is even free s/w available.


2. Going beyond the basic 3-axis machines, you have 5-axis and even more complicated machines available. Something like a half hull can be machined on a simple 3-axis; a complicated carving, like a 3D sculpture, a figurehead, etc., could make use of 5-axis. It gives the machine the ability to twist and turn the part under the cutting tool... search Youtube with "5-axis CNC" and you'll find plenty of fascinating videos of this. 
But 5-axis machines are very specialized, expensive, and take very skilled programmers to set up... so your machine-carved figurehead will likely be very important to you, for you to take this path!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
  • Create New...