Tuesday, July 27, 2021

The State of My Various 3D Print Projects

 As you know, I've been pursuing a few 3D printing projects including two CN woodchip cars, a CN 65ft gondola and a GTR Bombay-style cupola caboose conversion kit.

During the last few weeks, I was able to iron out most design flaws out of my initial 3D models and I'm getting prints of the level of quality I wanted, i.e, almost no sanding, fine details and ease of assembly. However, I'm not a master a this trade and the most tricky part in the process is adding 3D supports to your models so they print correctly. A mistake in that department and serious deformations can occur. Don't ask me why, just look at the failed shells in my garbage bin and you will understand.

In that regard, looking a various online 3D printing resources was useful, however, very little videos or tutorials are geared toward railway modellers. Most are in the wargaming hobby, meaning deformations are at least more tolerable because they work with organic shapes. Unfortunately for us, our prototypes are mainly boxes and if something isn't 100% square it shows off quite a bit and ruins the look whatever the quality of the print.

So I'm trying to figure out how to design the best supports for my prints. Until this serious (and last issue) is finally addressed, I hope to be able to move forward toward production or distributing STL files for those interested. At this point, the GTR caboose conversion kit is my priority because it is smaller and can serve as a good base to sort out printing issues.

While I don't hope to make a living out of these projects nor want to start a business at any cost (lack of time and interest), I wish these models can be available to other modellers as soon as I can.


  1. Have you considered putting the parts on Shapeways? That way you can spend your time designing instead of printing, cleaning, and mailing the parts. Something small like that with the parts nested inside the cupola to reduce print volume would probably be around $15 CDN at cost in Smooth Fine Detail Plastic material: https://www.shapeways.com/materials/fine-detail-plastic

    I can give you some pointers on wall thickness/sprues/etc if you have any questions - keep up the good work!

    1. I Scott! Yes, I thought about Shapeways, however their price bracket is so high many of my projects wouldn't be affordable when printing for myself. What cost $15 (plus shipping at Shapeways) cost me about $1.50) to print). The positive part is parts printed by them are generally in good quality. It would be a decent option for others to access the parts without dealing with the more frustrating part of 3D printing. Often, I feel I have to learn to print by myself and these projects are a good opportunity to do so. The modern 65ft cars in HO are a no go with them and I moved forward the old trick of breaking down the model in several parts because the technology move forward and it honestly takes away all the benefit of printing monolithic shells.

      Indeed, nesting parts is always a good trick with Shapeways. I'm also curious about how Shapeways Smooth Fine Detail Plastic has evolved. Two years ago, it was still rough. What can be printed with an Anycubic Photon Mono X is impressive. The parts are almost injection or resin quality level, requiring very little work.

      Quite a challenge.

    2. Hi Scott, after a few days thinkering with the parts, I think it could indeed be a good idea to make the GTR caboose parts available on Shapeways. I'd be curious to see how all parts could be nested into something manageable. Thanks!

  2. Glad to help, Matthieu; see me on Facebook.