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    • 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.

    • March 26, 2019 3:42 PM EDT
    • 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.

    • March 26, 2019 12:19 PM EDT
    • Dan Gilchrist said:

       Question is Who will make the boxes?

      Why most people throw the boxes away ..

       

    • March 26, 2019 8:13 AM EDT
    • 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?

    • March 26, 2019 3:02 AM EDT
    • Yup, and not everyone wants DCC.

    • March 26, 2019 2:44 AM EDT
    • MTH has been DCC compatible for a while

    • March 26, 2019 12:54 AM EDT
    • If only the Large Scale manufacturers such as USAT and AristoCraft had picked the proper 1/32 scale in the first place they could have tapped into a much larger market worldwide than 1/29 did.

      Scale modellers want proper scale models, not near scale toys.

      1/32 today is still rocking along very nicely. Lots of new locos and rolling stock appearing on a regular basis.

      Sure most of it is European in outline but that is because Europe is where the market is. What the big guys don't cater for is a profitable niche market for boutique makers.

      You never know, One day MTH might twig that they could do well if they didn't force the consumer to buy a proprietary control system that not every one wants.

    • March 26, 2019 12:40 AM EDT
    • I think we need to be asking a 2 part question. Do they have the means/resources to keep going (sounds like they do now with molds back in hand) as well as the people/will to keep going for the next generation? My ignorance/lack of intimate details may start to show here a bit so please excuse that, and I was out of the hobby for the collapse of Aristo, but was that not a large part of Aristo's demise, along with hemorrhaging money and all the other issues? I thought I saw somewhere no one wanted to step in and take over Mr. Polk's business, family or otherwise. Maybe it was so far gone, there was no saving it at that point, but I thought I remember hearing that the kids/no one wanted to keep it going. It was really Mr. Polk's vision, legacy and love that kept him sticking with it and trying.

       

      I don't know the history on Charlie or what his family is like or if there is a new generation coming up the chain to take over when he is gone, but that would be a bigger issue in my mind. Short game is one thing, the long game is another. The alternatives are not good, worst of all losing another manufacture (probably would not happen, but could) but the more likely story is someone like Kader/Bachmann, LGB, PIKO or some conglomerate will buy up Charles Ro, (if the family does not continue on or people within the company currently) and then further screw the large scale model railroad community by limiting parts, new products, etc. like they have with Aristo's IP. That is what worries me. It seems like these companies are setup with single points of success and failure, once the head patriarch is gone, they wither and die as there is no successor, or no clear plan for moving forward. But maybe all that is already cared for in Charles Ro's case and we will still have many generations of Charles Ro products, which is my hope.

    • March 25, 2019 11:46 PM EDT
    • David Maynard said:

      The one thing with the molds is that they need an injection molding machine that will accept the molds. I am also glad the USAT is still in business and coming out with new products form time to time.

       

      Mold makers can make any die fit any injection mold machine.....definately NOT an issue. :). I've done it.

       

    • March 25, 2019 9:41 PM EDT
    • I'd rather pay more for American made model trains, and know I'm getting a good product, than save a few bucks up front for CHICOM junk, that I know I'll have to fix or replace in a year or two.

       

      I'm still running the Lionel trains that I had as a kid in the 1950s, and a locomotive that my dad had in the 20s.  They were well built, and well maintained.  Yeah, a few brushes were replaced in the motors, along the way, but that is maintenance, is it not?

       

      I recall reading a model train mag, back in the day, an article about scratch building a locomotive.  It seemed as this was an everyday occurrence.  The article started out, "First, mill your driving wheels." 

       

      Have we lost something, along the way?

    • March 25, 2019 12:08 PM EDT
    • I'll pay more for American made. Maybe the price will be higher, but it's better to have something you can buy (maybe fewer of) than nothing to buy.

       

      Greg

    • March 25, 2019 6:39 AM EDT
    • The one thing with the molds is that they need an injection molding machine that will accept the molds. I am also glad the USAT is still in business and coming out with new products form time to time.

    • March 24, 2019 3:27 PM EDT
    • Thanks Gary for the information/explainations, I for one am perfectly willing to pay more for American made products, so very tired of seeing nothing but intermodal containers on trains crossing AZ on both BNSF and UP. Maybe someone should send a email to both Charles Ro/USA Trains and EP Plastics/Accutie and introduce them , get the ball rolling so we can get new products and parts back in the pipeline. But now I am remembering that USAT already has stuff made here, the American Series cars are all made here, so they already have a company they deal with. Either way , hope things get going soon.