2016-10.4: 3D Printing at Home: 1

28 Oct 2016

Average: 4 (23 votes)
14:05 - Oct 2016 Act IV - 3D Printing at Home, p1 (2016)

3D printing technology is changing how hobbyists build models, but we have only scratched the surface of what it can do for us.  In this four-part series on Notch 8, guest Jeff Pinchbeck demonstrates how his printer has solved several modeling challenges.  In this first session, he discusses the discovery process and the learning curve involved in putting this fantastic tool into service.

Series includes (click to watch):

1: 3D Printing at home - intro (this episode)

2: 3D Printing at home - getting better results

3: 3D Printing at home - making "under the hood" parts

4: 3D Printing at home - making helpful fixtures

Also for more, see our blog entry: A 3D PRINTER IN YOUR WORKSHOP?

Own a copy of this video for just $3.49


Glad to see someone addressing this topic from the perspective of the model railroader. It's not easy to convey technical subjects of this level to every viewer. While there have been great advances in the capabilities of home-shop 3D printers since their introduction to the consumer market, there has yet to be an equal amount of improvement at the software end of things. It still takes quite a bit of work for the new user to learn to create complex CAD models that are 'watertight' and reliably printable. Congratulations on tackling this material.

I would like to see more about how to prepare drawings for the printer.

tpmarshall's picture

Hi "k1eg":

In this series, we want hobbyists to learn why they might want to put a 3D Printer in their workshop at home - even if they're also planning to take advantage of commercial services such as Shapeways. We're looking at the capabilities (and short-comings) of these home machines, and will be providing examples of how they can be a useful tool for the layout-builder.

Therefore, preparing drawings is a subject unto itself and beyond the scope of what we're covering here. It's also something that only those who are actively 3D Printing would be interested in, which is going to be a pretty small niche of our audience.

We'll keep your request in mind, however, in case we revisit 3D Printing in the future.

Meantime, there are plenty of videos online about how to use CAD programs, and I'm sure a question posed to the MRH Forum about what programs people are using would give you a place to start your search.


- Trevor

coyoteww's picture

I have been contemplating 3D printing for years. Most of the examples I have seen are either very rough, or have lacked the detail I want for HO scale. I am looking forward to this introduction and a walk thru of all the trial and tribulations of getting started. I will echo the previous comments about the software and programs related to getting your ideas into a form that 3D printers can understand. There are many videos online about the programs, but we still need a model railroaders perspective on what is the best and EASIEST to use.

Thanks for taking the bull by the horns and getting me started towards this goal.


tpmarshall's picture

Hi Michael:

Well, it seems our series is aimed at hobbyists like you, then! :-)

Jeff and I are going to discuss many ways in which these consumer-grade 3D Printers can enhance our hobby - including doing some things that are really hard to do using other fabrication techniques. The cattle guards Jeff mentions in this episode are an excellent example.

The printers we're talking about here will NOT replace sending something to Shapeways or another commercial service. In many cases, the output from Jeff's printer is too rough for finished models - although he has found some uses (such as the cattle guards), where it's not an issue. But the printers they use cost anywhere from $200,000-$850,000 each.

That said, one way Jeff uses his printer is to test his designs before sending to Shapeways. He can determine that the parts print properly. It costs him almost nothing in material. And he sees the results within minutes, instead of weeks. I have a friend who does a lot of 3D Printing and he takes his designs to a local library to run on their printer - but that still requires several hours out of his day. If he had the space on his bench, I'm sure he'd add a home printer just for the convenience.


- Trevor

tpmarshall's picture

Hi again, "k1eg":

FYI, in the second segment in this series we talk about how to approach the drawing process. We don't do hand-holding ("click on this tool and then to this") but rather we explore some of the errors that Jeff has made as he's learning to use his drawing program and his printer. The great thing about having a home 3D Printer is that the cost of failure is relatively small - it's a few cents worth of material - and your results are almost immediate, compared to sending away to a commercial printer and waiting to see how things turn out. So learning by doing is a lot more viable with a  home printer than it is with a commercial service.

Hope this helps.


- Trevor