A lot has been written on how 3D printing is changing the way modelers create things. The concept of creating models using 3D has long facinated me. I saw a model of a F-16 fighter printed by a machine in our engineering labs back in the 1980s. The model was crude by todays standards but remarkable for its time. The design tool was a huge program called CATIA. It ran on a mainframe. Years have passed and technology has made huge strides. Now you can do design on a PC or MAC at a reasonable price. Printers are getting better and cheaper. Cheaper is a relative term. Formlab has a very capable machine that will produce beautiful parts. The old saw about getting what you paid for is very true when talking about printers. However, don’t expect high quality capability for less than $1000, There are service bureau such as Shapeways that will print your designs. I have purchased parts from Shapeways but have not been impressed. The parts lacked a smooth surface and had evidence of layers from the printing resolution. The highest quality parts cost more due to the amount of machine time required.
The part shown above was printed on a Formlab Form 2 machine. The part is a bolster/saddle for a GATC tank car. A complex part that is the strong suite of 3D process.
The picture shown above is what a set of parts rendered on design software. The design is an Universal 5934 hand brake set. These were applied to flat cars starting in the late 1930s.
Here is the hand brake assembly installed on a Pere Marquette 70-ton AAR flat car. It was a common hardware item found on a wide range of cars.
Ross Dando has started a small 1/4″ scale kit business called Twin Star Models. His first product is a Rock Island rebuilt 53′ flat car. The project needed a special hand brake set for the car. He contracted with a 3D designer to develop the part based upon drawings.
The designer used a process of printing a type of resin that can be burned out in the brass investment process. The blue parts shown below are sent off to a brass foundry for casting in metal.
The benefit of this approach is that the resulting castings are super sharp when compared to creating a mold to shoot wax investment parts.
The parts are shown assembled and installed on a the end sill of the flat car.
Ross has created an extremely useful and essential part. There are several cars I can now build when that it becomes available. Special parts like specific decal sets are enabling items that allow great models to be built. Ok, I am a bit of a foamer that counts rivets. Proto48 is about doing the model right. It is about quality not quantity.
Ross Dando’s flat car is a tour d’force in fine pattern making. The resin castings were done by Jon Cagle who is the best.
Good stuff coming our way!