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    • March 28, 2019 2:38 PM EDT
    • David Maynard said:

      Another point is, have any of you seen an injection molding machine in action? The parts come out of injection molding machines at a rate that no 3D printer could hope to match. So for mass production, injection molding will be the way its done. For small batches of unique parts, that would be the 3D printers niche, at least for now.

      I never mean't to imply 3d printing would replace injection molding for mass production.  It's my belief that as more folks get access to higher quality 3d printers,  the manufacturers will consider not producing the parts at all and just supplying stl files.  Have you noticed that now if you buy a board game like Stratego, they make you do the work and peel & place all the stickers on the playing pieces?  I'm thinking the next step would be a flat pack with the board, stickers and instructions with links to download and print the pieces yourself.  Imagine how much production cost, shipping, stock space etc. could be saved.  And when you want X-Men or Smurf Stratego they just sell you the files.  See where I'm going with this?

      Let's pretend AML has the CAD files for a GP60 but doesn't get enough pre-orders to commit to injection molding costs...  Hmmm?  How much to rework the CAD files to something printable and offering it in kit form?

    • March 28, 2019 2:18 PM EDT
    • Luckily for us home hobby guys, we can trade time for cost if we are making stuff for ourselves and the machine runs by itself.

       

      I think the biggest challenge is the ability to afford a machine for yourself that has the surface resolution that can be directly painted, not filled and sanded.

       

      Greg

    • March 28, 2019 1:54 PM EDT
    • David Maynard said:

      Another point is, have any of you seen an injection molding machine in action? The parts come out of injection molding machines at a rate that no 3D printer could hope to match. So for mass production, injection molding will be the way its done. For small batches of unique parts, that would be the 3D printers niche, at least for now.

       

      Yeah, about thirty years ago, the forging industry was taking a hit because of the fall of the Soviet Union and the Berlin Wall coming down. I was laid off and found work in zinc injection mold house with a "captive die shop" (meaning it was a separate entity, but associated with the larger production shop). Zinc is a "kind" of pot metal used for many consumer products. But the finish on the cavities of these molds is usually a polished surface to remove tool marks and grind marks. Just don't want to leave a blemish on the surface of the injection molded product. We even did some aluminum parts. The call boxes along the freeways were made by this company. Even the surface for aluminum products can have a high polish surface on the cavity. But when you start doing plastics, this is an entirely different world. The dies have to be handled with gloves because the acid from the skin of the mold maker can mar the surface of the cavity. The final finish is almost literally chrome plated! NOTHING touches a finished cavity in production or any spot or blemish will appear on the plastic part. This is where the cost of plastic injection dies goes skyward exponentially! 

      Just because a injection molded die is machined exactly to print, DOES NOT mean that it will work properly. There is always the added cost of the "tryout" period before production. Inevitably changes have to be made to the die because of the flow characteristics of the part material or the movement of the die in the injection machine. All machines act differently. It's not "cookie cutter" easy. And like David mentioned, you can produce "bad" parts VERY quickly in these machines. Scrap always seem to go quicker during production rather than an easy "good" part production run. But the injection mold process is by far faster than 3D printing and WILL be far into the future. Definitely not something for the home hobbyist 3D printer unless you have VERY DEEP pockets!

    • March 28, 2019 12:25 PM EDT
    • Greg Elmassian said:

      Well, with people paying $1200 for some scarce road names in some locos (go figure) I can see people getting a favorite, never produced (but fits on another chassis) loco.

      What would I pay for a Santa Fe E1? A lot.

      The issue is clearly the quality level, we are getting pretty close with the latest generation of "hobby printers", the filament printers are clearly not there, the SLA printers are pretty darn good, much less "filling and finishing" and the upcoming SLS printers (see the formlabs web site) might be close enough to print and paint.

      I'd love to have one each of all the unusual early Santa Fe diesels.

      Greg

      I'm surprised that Mark Demyan  hasn't chimed in...

       

    • March 28, 2019 11:47 AM EDT
    • Well, with people paying $1200 for some scarce road names in some locos (go figure) I can see people getting a favorite, never produced (but fits on another chassis) loco.

       

      What would I pay for a Santa Fe E1? A lot.

       

      The issue is clearly the quality level, we are getting pretty close with the latest generation of "hobby printers", the filament printers are clearly not there, the SLA printers are pretty darn good, much less "filling and finishing" and the upcoming SLS printers (see the formlabs web site) might be close enough to print and paint.

       

      I'd love to have one each of all the unusual early Santa Fe diesels.

       

      Greg

    • March 28, 2019 6:27 AM EDT
    • Another point is, have any of you seen an injection molding machine in action? The parts come out of injection molding machines at a rate that no 3D printer could hope to match. So for mass production, injection molding will be the way its done. For small batches of unique parts, that would be the 3D printers niche, at least for now.

    • March 27, 2019 8:16 PM EDT
    • Hi folks,

      I thought I would step into this discussion and maybe clarify a few things about the mold industry and how a company decides whether to use 3D printing to actually make the part needed OR use 3D printing to form a part and then have it cast. Take a look at this link I have provided here:

      https://www.shapeways.com/shops/backyardtrainco

      This is a 1" and 1.5/1.6" scale vendor who builds ride-on diesels. He also provides 3D printed details for these locomotives. Some of the parts are ABS or other "plastics" materials. Other parts are 3D printed "sintered bronze" or cast bronze that are lost wax impressions made from 3D printed molds. It all depends on the resolution of the printing process. The faster the printing is, then you have a courser (rougher) resolution. Lots of hand work to make it presentable (process is called "Benching"). You make up time in the 3D process AND less cost, but there is added cost to the benchwork it takes to smooth things up. When we did our aluminum castings for the louvered panel doors for our 1/8th scale Baldwin electrics, the part was 3D printed in a "rough resolution". We would have paid quite a bit more for this part to make the mold. The foundry that printed the part did the final bench work by hand and then they used the printed mold part to press into the "sand mold" to make the aluminum sand casting. Scroll down the page on the link above and look at the cost of some of the parts. Most are relatively inexpensive. But take note of the two steam generators.....one is 1-1/2 inch scale and the other is 2-1/2 inch scale. These are NOT cheap mainly because of the fine resolution of the 3D printing.

      We are working with our foundry in Kent, Ohio to make scale model trolley poles. The man I'm working with is using Fusion 360 software (as I am) and we are deciding how best and economically to go forward with combinations of 3D printing and making sand casting molds. So far, it will be much more cost effective to 3D print the parts in a semi rough finish, do the benchwork to smooth the parts and then produce the sand mold for aluminum castings. The cost of these parts to 3D print in a fine resolution would be prohibitive (at least 10-15 times the cost of the castings.

      Also on this Shapeways page, you will find full 3D printed bodies of SD60 shells for HO scale and they are almost $300 each. Multiple that cost for a 1/29th body shell and I very much doubt ANYONE on here will be doling out $700-$800 for a shell. And I also know that those on here using home 3D printers will not have the capacity to print an entire shell, much less a seqment of a shell. These would require 3D printers in the thousands of dollars. All of these devices talked about here whether 3D printers or the software to design the parts needed (also the experience to make any part in the software). 3D Solid Modeling and drawing is not for the faint hearted. Remember you pick the "tools" to use to make your parts that are the most econmical and appropriate. One "tool" won't do everything and some of this discussion above sounds like that is waht is expected of 3D printing. Not necessarily so :).

       

    • March 27, 2019 8:09 PM EDT
    • Some companies do the unexpected. Back in the late 70s I sent a letter to EMD (Electromotive Division GM) requesting a set of drawings for the DD-35 A and B units. I received a set of prints in 3/8" scale (perfect for G Scale) that one would expect to see in MR or RMC. They were huge by 0 Scale standards that I was modeling at the time. I wish I still had them, I lost them in a move between Tennessee and Florida.

    • March 27, 2019 5:32 PM EDT
    • Craig Townsend said:

      Dan,

      Why would a Prototype company (say EMD) want to produce CAD drawings for a fee? If I'm EMD's competitor, and I can buy a complete EMD CAD drawing I can see the weakness and strength of the design to modify my product to produce a better product than EMD.

      I'd not expect EMD would hand out their prototype CAD drawings.  They would use them to create 3d printable design (STL) files. (Specifically for creating a toy model) 

      If/when CAD drawings come out for modelers, they will come out by hobbyists who are working on projects. For instance, I've been emailing back and forth a HO scale modeler who drew up his HO steam engine in CAD for 3D printing and etching. He's made his files available for people to 'print' off as well. 

      Now what I do see is the following process for 'kits' in large scale

      1. Large laser cut sheets of plastic for the body/frame (tab and slot style construction). Shipped flat.

      2. Pile of 3D printed detail parts to add to the flat sheets of plastic. Plastic would be tab and slotted for 3D prints to be added.

      3. Motor blocks shipped assembled

      4. Additional "add on" of electronics for locomotives

      Awesome!  I agree.  This certainly would be a great alternative.  Along with line 2 ,  What about access to a repository that includes STL files for printing the details at home?

       

    • March 27, 2019 5:17 PM EDT
    • Dan Gilchrist said:
        It can be broken down into smaller parts - no?   

      Dan,

      This is the whole point. If someone is going to the effort to assemble a "kit" they are likely better off using a combination of 3D prints and plastic laser cut sections. The appeal of 3D printing to those that don't want a 'kit' is that everything is printed in 1 shot. No assembly required. 

    • March 27, 2019 5:13 PM EDT
    • Chris Kieffer said:

      Injection molding won't be replaced by 3D printing any time soon, especially in production quantities.  In comparison, 3D Printing per part is far more expensive than injection molding.   Then there is the time factor it would take to print a car or locomotive body vs. molding it.   Size IS a factor, a 40' car in 1/29 is 16-1/2" long (480/29), which is already to big for most printers.    The one I run at work is a "large" printer and that car would barely fit.   (That printer cost $170,000 in 2013)  I use 3D printing extensively for detail parts on my projects and that is where it fits best.    Not to mention that 3D printing still doesn't get you a running gear or locomotive mechanism.

       I am not suggesting the toy manufacturer 3d print quantities to sell.  My opinion is that in the (nearer than 20 years) future the designs will be more important to Chares Ro than injection molds to take advantage of 3d print technologies as they evolve.  It's getting close to the point where folks could print quality models at home if given the files.  I wouldn't care if it took weeks to print.  Why do you believe the printer needs to be larger than the finished model?  It can be broken down into smaller parts - no?   Obviously, the parts that are not currently made of plastic would not be printed.

    • March 27, 2019 9:15 AM EDT
    • Dan,

      Why would a Prototype company (say EMD) want to produce CAD drawings for a fee? If I'm EMD's competitor, and I can buy a complete EMD CAD drawing I can see the weakness and strength of the design to modify my product to produce a better product than EMD.

      If/when CAD drawings come out for modelers, they will come out by hobbyists who are working on projects. For instance, I've been emailing back and forth a HO scale modeler who drew up his HO steam engine in CAD for 3D printing and etching. He's made his files available for people to 'print' off as well. 

      Now what I do see is the following process for 'kits' in large scale

      1. Large laser cut sheets of plastic for the body/frame (tab and slot style construction). Shipped flat.

      2. Pile of 3D printed detail parts to add to the flat sheets of plastic. Plastic would be tab and slotted for 3D prints to be added.

      3. Motor blocks shipped assembled

      4. Additional "add on" of electronics for locomotives

    • March 27, 2019 8:49 AM EDT
    • Injection molding won't be replaced by 3D printing any time soon, especially in production quantities.  In comparison, 3D Printing per part is far more expensive than injection molding.   Then there is the time factor it would take to print a car or locomotive body vs. molding it.   Size IS a factor, a 40' car in 1/29 is 16-1/2" long (480/29), which is already to big for most printers.    The one I run at work is a "large" printer and that car would barely fit.   (That printer cost $170,000 in 2013)  I use 3D printing extensively for detail parts on my projects and that is where it fits best.    Not to mention that 3D printing still doesn't get you a running gear or locomotive mechanism.

       

      We do several types of plastic molding where I work, and I can tell you no matter what the process the cost of tooling is ALWAYS a major factor.   I'm glad he got his molds back.   It won't be hard to find a company to use those molds to make parts.

    • March 26, 2019 10:44 PM EDT
    • Craig Townsend said:

      2 Factors with 3D printing

      1. Resolution. Even the Shapeways extra detail or whatever its called now has "grain". 3D prints dipped in Future seem to eliminate this grain on molds/castings. But bare 3D prints the grain is very visible. Will the "grain" get better over time? Sure, but seeing that trickle down to the hobby level will take time.

      Most 3d printers are capable of .1mm resolution.  There is no detail on any of my USA Trains Cars or Locos that fine.  You really believe 20-30 years to smooth the "grain" you speak of in shapeways frosted ultra detail resin?

      That said when drawing CAD, you have to take that resolution into account. Buying a CAD drawing that isn't designed for your printer will result in a not so good print.

      I'd not expect EMD would hand out their prototype CAD drawings.  They would use them to create 3d printable design (STL) files.  A user would process that file with the appropriate slicer program for their printer. 

      2. Print bed size. I don't see 3D printing overtaking plastic injections when the volume of the parts increases. N, and HO scale maybe, but 3D prints in O or large scale at the commercial level with injection mold detail isn't going to happen. If/when that does it won't be at the hobbyist level.

      The largest consumer ($1400) resin printer is the Phrozen Transform ($1400) and has a build volume of 29.2 x 16.5 x 40 cm (11.5 x 6.5 x 15.75 inch)  I'd say we are getting pretty close.

      I look at 3D printing as a niche market like resin casting, metal etching etc. Some of us have the skills, but its not going mainstream anytime fast.

      20-30 years!  Damn!  Well, at least I should be around to see it.  For now, I'm happy with my FDM printer, a bit of post processing and the 10 foot rule. 

       

    • March 26, 2019 8:55 PM EDT
    • 2 Factors with 3D printing

       

      1. Resolution. Even the Shapeways extra detail or whatever its called now has "grain". 3D prints dipped in Future seem to eliminate this grain on molds/castings. But bare 3D prints the grain is very visible. Will the "grain" get better over time? Sure, but seeing that trickle down to the hobby level will take time.

      That said when drawing CAD, you have to take that resolution into account. Buying a CAD drawing that isn't designed for your printer will result in a not so good print.

       

      2. Print bed size. I don't see 3D printing overtaking plastic injections when the volume of the parts increases. N, and HO scale maybe, but 3D prints in O or large scale at the commercial level with injection mold detail isn't going to happen. If/when that does it won't be at the hobbyist level.

       

      I look at 3D printing as a niche market like resin casting, metal etching etc. Some of us have the skills, but its not going mainstream anytime fast.

       

    • March 26, 2019 8:28 PM EDT
    • Craig Townsend said:

      Dan,

      I don't 3D printing is even close to the same level as injection molds. Even in 20 or 30 years. Detail parts for sure, but main body parts I don't see that happening anytime soon.

      Craig.  Are you are saying 3d printing is not an option because current build volume will not allow to make a body shell all at once?

    • March 26, 2019 4:29 PM EDT
    • Dan Gilchrist said:

      Every day we get closer to being able to print high quality models at home using 3d print technologies.   The long game is not injection molds, it's the 3d design files.  Those can be licensed.  They can also be scaled.  The future threat to Charles Ro may be Atlas or Athearn.  Personally, I'd like to see manufacturers like Trinity, Greenbrier, GE, and EMD take the original designs and rework them for printing. Question is Who will make the boxes?

      Who makes the boxes now for EMD/Cat, GE, and such? All the need to do is scale down the boxes for the models.

    • March 26, 2019 4:28 PM EDT
    • Tony Walsham said:

      Yup, and not everyone wants DCC.

      And so why should I pay for DCC when I don't want it.