Sunday, 16 April 2017

It Came Off In Me Hand

Our first adventure in 3D print modelling has got off to an interesting start.

I mentioned in my first post after the arrival of our body for Lilla that Himself's first impressions were that it felt flimsy - we'll he's just discovered quite how delicate they really are.

The print came with what we assume was a blow hole in the cab roof where there is supposed to be a small hole where the safety valve pops out.

Himself had used Milliput to fill the gap and was working to smooth that out, holding the model with a finger on the front of the cab, when it went clean through the very thin panel between the spectacles.

What you see in the picture above is the repair job he's done with some styrene.

A number of other small and vulnerable bits have also been knocked off during attempts to polish the surface - the supports on the end of the springs and the handrails in the cab for instance.

These can easily be replaced with styrene or brass, so it's no big deal.

While it's very impressive that these small details can be printed it does leave me wondering whether it's wise that they should be?

Due to the nature of the way the print is built up modellers are still going to want to smooth and polish off any obvious ridges - even with the best quality products - however it's clear that they must be handled extremely carefully while doing this.

Perhaps instead of trying to create something that is as near as ready to run standard as you can get it, might be better to treat these prints more like scratch-aid kits, leaving the modeller to add finer details in other materials?

Or maybe it's just Himself being all fingers and thumbs after decades working with white metal and brass?


  1. Yes, 3D printing is great, but as you've found it's not really suited to the fine details (yet). A much better option is to use it as part of a kit with other materials (etched pieces, wire etc.). Unfortunately a lot of people who are knocking out 3D models for printing don't want the hassle of producing proper kits and farm everything out to shapeways. The end result is that while the renders on the website look great the models are actually quite disappointing; I've even heard of some models that haven't even been test printed before they've been put on sale, with the result that they don't fit the suggested chassis etc.

    Personally I won't be buying any 3D printed models direct from shapeways, instead I'll be sending my money to those people who are willing to do the extra work of producing proper kits from 3D printed parts.

  2. I feel the same. Those renders don't show what you'll get, especially the quality of the surface finish.

    Smoothing isn't always possible either, it depends on the materials. A recent Narrow Planet Corferna diesel was excellent in this respect but others have been hopeless.

  3. Echo comments but in N plenty of brass bits to fit up lost bits and with care printing orientation can help with the need for sanding.
    Shapeways also offer - at a cost of course printing with a metal containing medium so it is possible to print a brass model. I have seen some lovely whistles and cab fittings.
    I hope model comes out well.