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This may be a little silly and unfair but are there any negatives to 3-D printed products ?

Quality of material / details / durability etc - should I not expect the level of detail that most molded products have ?

Love the K&R signals that are being talked about on the forum now

I’m just now familiar with the 3-D world and not sure if anyone has been disappointed in any way

Thanks in advance

Joe S

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There really is not a negative.  I've printed a whole Elevated Section (uprightes and girders), couplers, and many other non-train items).  When getting a machine, keep in mind:

The print platform (mine is heated aluminum using painters tape and glue sticks and I sometimes have issues with the first pass sticking).  Some say glass is better (which I want to try at some point).  There are lots of options that can be purchased.

The material - most use ABS or PLA.  Now resin is growing and is a good option

Is the printer enclosed?  While not super important, having a heat controlled area is a good option (mine is)

What is the size of the platform and how is it heated - you will see in picture two below that I have a heat issue with mine which causes the bowing.



One other thing to keep in mind is the printer software.  I don't use the one that came with my printer - I use Simplify3D which is really good (and recomended to me from a friend who is a designer).

Here are some of my prints (train and not):

Passernger cowling

20210415_140048



Printing the uprights:

20200616_195727



All put together:

20200702_202827



I'll post more pictures from my phone as this is my computer.

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I originally had an "original"  MakerBot a tube printer that laid down a line of heated ABS in layers from bottom to top. You could see each layer.  I hated it. However, today these tube printers can print very detailed 3D prints like Allan said above.

Even so, presently I use exclusively a 3D Resin printer FormLabs 3, that prints layers upside-down, the detail is in microns and the strength of the print is isotropic *strong in all directions*.

@cta4391 posted:

Is that an example of the print lifting in the corners?

Yup - it is due to the heating surface not being uniform.  Because the edges are cooler, the ABS "sets" faster than in the middle, so it bows up.  The smaller parts (and even the house) worked fine as they were 1-2 inches in from the edge on each side.

Also, I did not put in supports, so that is why the filament is not connected at the top (I did not think to add them).  I just ended up cutting them off.

No Supports

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@C&O Allan posted:

Yup - it is due to the heating surface not being uniform.  Because the edges are cooler, the ABS "sets" faster than in the middle, so it bows up.  The smaller parts (and even the house) worked fine as they were 1-2 inches in from the edge on each side.

Also, I did not put in supports, so that is why the filament is not connected at the top (I did not think to add them).  I just ended up cutting them off.

No Supports

Maybe a PEI Sheet will help with that.  I used to have adhesion issues with PETG and ABS but once I put PEI on top of my glass bed the problem went away, though sometimes I’ll do a quick swipe with a glue stick just to be safe.

As a model railroader that also prints/sells 3d printed buildings... it depends.  The larger the print, the more likely you'll have a slight defect.  You'll find a lot of folks who sell for HO scale, but not a lot in O scale due to the size requirements.

You need to watch out for nozzle print size and material too.  ABS and PETG is stronger, but harder to sand if you need to.  Wood PLA is the easiest to sand and one of the most resistant to warping.  Smaller nozzles like .3mm or .2mm (or less) give greater detail, but .4mm I would consider standard if your ordering a building or something (and wont be crazy expensive).

Don't expect too much out of brick molded printed parts, that's hit or miss unless the producer is a perfectionist.  Clapboard or shingles are easier to get right.

At the end of the day, your paying for something you might not (without a lot of work) be able to model yourself.  If its a building, then your paying for the scaling/plans/knowledge that its designed to be 1:48.

While filament isn't the most expensive (unless during covid haha), you also pay for the printing time and risk of mistakes.  If the printer ruins a print, the producer might have to eat the costs of trying again (that risk cost is passed along to the consumer via increased prices across the board).

In short, any producer of 3d printed items that's reputable wont sell you something they are not proud of, or they will provide sample photos of their 'average' printing quality.  You might get a slight bit of warp, or a minor defect, but that's the cost of your unique structure.

Last edited by DylTrains

I posted photos of my Seaboard Air Line motorcar 32028 a while back, 3D printed by Zak Pabis.  Zak did a fine job as far as I'm concerned but there were a few things I saw in the printing method that have to be dealt with to make the model look good.

Depending on the direction of printing, there's going to be print lines that must be sanded or they will show.  Not a lot of sanding, but it takes some work to get things smooth.  I've had this for a year now so maybe with the newer printers (which he may have now) this problem has been solved.

Here's a photo of the model as I got it:

DSCN0778

You can see lines all along the surface, but the ones on the top don't really show once painted.  But the lines on the vertical rear of the body had to be filed/sanded to make them disappear.  There weren't lines like this on the sides that I could see.

This thing is 18" or so long and he had to make it in 3 pieces, then glue it together:

DSCN0777

It's as strong as any store-bought model I have so that's not a worry.

Once painted, I thought it looked fine and I'm proud to have it in my collection:

DSCN0839

DSCN0836

Here's a photo of the end after filing/sanding and with a light coat of paint:

DSCN0813

Last time I talked to Zak he was going to university and had to halt his 3D offerings for the time being.  I haven't visited his website so I'm not sure if he's still active or not, but I would definitely buy from him again.  3D printing gives us a way to get something made that the regular model makers just aren't going to offer.

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