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3D printing and our hobby

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I read an article in FSM about a company that specializes in creating custom 3D printed kits. IIRC, the example in the photo was a T-1 Jayhawk.

So this raises a few questions.

Is this process cheaper? For whom? The buyer or the seller?

Will this drive costs down since molds aren't having to be made and paid for?

How much does a 3D model actually cost? What is the material? Resin?

What is the quality of the model? Limited Run-like or full on injection crispness?

Just curious.

-Jeff

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Hi Jeff,

Not replying specifically to your question about the Jayhawk kit, but I recently asked a French modeller (and 3d graphics specialist) to make a part for me.It was the air intake for the Fonderie Miniature Griffon II kit

23156.jpg

As you can see there is a very large intake, which the kit lacks of course, and I couldn't figure how to replicate this with"standard" modelling techniques.So here is the result :

674x501_1345742_1301749_1379176840.jpg

a nice, one piece, seamless part that would have been difficult (for me !) to make correctly.

HTH

Marc B

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I think it's a very exciting technology but it is still it it's infancy. I have been designing some 3D parts to sell through a company called shapeways http://www.arcforums.com/forums/air/index.php?showtopic=268456. While the price/quality ratio isn't quite there for some parts requiring super smooth surfaces with fine detail, for the parts I'm making that don't require an ultra smooth surface I think it's perfect. I think right now the cost of getting really high quality parts for something like a cockpit detail set is still too high for the general model building public and even more so for a complete aircraft. I believe there are a lot of companies using 3D prints to make their masters and then casting them in resin since that is a cheaper way to go. Some day in the future, I think the quality to price ratio will come down considerably and it may very well take over the resin casting market. But still, even though it would get rid of the molding cost, you'd still have to purchase the printers or use an outside service.

The main advantages I see in 3D printing is 1) it's very easy to modify models and print variations instead of having to make a bunch of separate masters. 2) Print on demand means no overhead stock. 3) Some shapes that couldn't be molded in one piece are possible with 3D printing so there will be more accurate shapes of complicated parts. And finally 4) Developing parts only takes time, not materials. So mistakes don't necessarily mean starting over with a master, just fixing the 3D file.

Edited by niart17

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i would like to add something to this. i my self i am using 3d printing to start my own business where i will be making conversion sets so any body can build rare bear or strega or even the RB-51. and what i love so much about this technology is they can model any shape or curve out there and you will have it in your hands. now i did for a long time try resin casting but it never worked for me so i went this route and in 1 week from now i will have my parts in my hands and yes i will post pictures.

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This subject gets brought up monthly (search the forums) but it is such a fast developing technology I can see why it keeps getting brought up.

My $0.02:

  • Current Kit manufacturing (Injection Molding): Investment High/parts cost low
  • 3D Printing: Investment cost medium/parts cost medium to high

IMHO- There is a market for BOTH! They will compliment each other nicely. I don't see 3D printing replacing Injection Molded kits in the mainstream for many years even decades to come however.

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This is an extremely large subject, and the answer to all of your questions is basically, "it depends". This will be long. Sorry.

First and foremost, there aren't really any consumer-grade (and budget) printers on the market that will produce acceptable results for the modeller. That means you're going to be using a 3D printing bureau to print your parts for you.

Most 3D print bureaus follow a similar pricing model. They charge a fixed "set up fee" per model, and a cost per volume of material. The set up fee covers their technician's time and effort configuring your model on the build platter, running diagnostics and repairs, prepping and removal. The materials charge, well, covers materials.

Each of these prices will vary from bureau to bureau, and material to material. "3D printing" is a generic term that covers a massive range of specific technologies - some heat and extrude plastic, some use UV light to cure resins, some use glues to bond polymers, some use lasers to melt plastic, or metal. Others print waxes that are suitable for investment casting in precious metals. Part of the trick to successful 3D printing is understanding the benefits and limitations of the various technologies, knowing what specific printer brands are capable of, and which bureaus run at maximum resolution. *Generally speaking*, however, price = quality. ABS extrusion is cheap. SLA is expensive. Partly this is down to technology. Partly it's down to speed: it's cheaper to print thicker layers, because you don't have to print as many; fewer layers means faster prints.

So, for instance, the popular print service Shapeways charges $1.50 setup per model and $1.40/cm3 to print in their "White Strong and Flexible" material (laser sintered nylon), which is the coarsest grade of plastic they print. Their "Frosted Ultra Detail" (UV cured acrylic) is the highest res plastic, at $5/model, $3.50/cm3. Big price difference if you're printing a large model.

Unfortunately, Shapeways kinda sucks. A lot. They're geared towards the geeky dabbler - someone who's happy to have their stuff printed, and isn't fussed about surface quality. WSF *really* wouldn't cut it for most modellers (it has a texture sort of like a sugarcube). The actual *printer* used for FUD can do some impressive things, but Shapeway optimizes it for speed, and the surface quality isn't ideal for modellers. It would work for major shapes like fuselage halves, nor so much for detailed parts like cockpits:

IMG_1741.jpg

Stepping up from that would be SLA - stereolithography. A few consumer oriented bureaus have cheap-ish options for that. Kraftwurx, another bureau, offers a pretty high quality SLA using Objet Printers (Objet Vero, an ABS like UV-cured resin). Good surface finish, but not well suited to really thin parts. There you're looking at $8/model, $8.50/cm3. Their 'Nano Detail White' material is apparently done on the same kind of printer as Shapeways' FUD, but at higher res/quality, so a better finish. There you're looking at $8/model, $25/cm3. And if you want *really* high quality, as near as you can get to "production ready" prints, you can switch to "Nano Detail Ultra", run on an Envisiontec printer (a range of UV-cured resins and waxes), at $55/model, $23/cm3. These will still need minor clean-up, but it's remarkably close to being ready straight out of the box - certainly resin or injected crispness, just a few print artifacts.

What does that mean in the real world? Here's a 1/72 GBU-57. It's actually hollow - the body is about 1mm thick (IIRC) because solid would be exponentially pricier. It's about 3 1/2" x 1" x 1", and about 3cm3 of material.

MOPback_zpsa3f68c54.jpg

In WSF, it's $6. In FUD, it's $15. Vero Blue is $34. Nano White is $81. Nano Ultra is $137. If you're just looking for a shape, and can do the grunt work to smooth it out and make it "model ready", it's pretty cheap. If you're expecting AiRes quality, it's pretty expensive (though you're also using AiRes technology).

So currently, the big benefit is for masters. It's already widely used by the modelling aftermarket. Eduard does it (Brassin's photos are all 3D renders). AiRes does it. Even smaller outfits like Komplekt Zip use it - take a close look at the wheels here and you'll see the print layers. *IS* it cheaper? Not really. It's not economically viable to 3D print for production (although Gaspatch does - their anemometers are done on an Envisiontec printer). Will it *be* cheaper? Almost definitely. It's just a matter of time.

It's great for masters because you can engineer to tolerances that are almost impossible by hand. Do you want your pitot to be 43.25mm long, or 43.24mm long? You can tweak and refine your CAD model until you're happy, then print it out in whatever scale you choose. Rather than paying to make masters in 1/72, 1/48 and 1/32, you only need one, then just make some minor tweaks for resolution, and re-scale the part. Another nice bonus is that it's easy to manipulate your models in certain ways. Making duplicate, or handed parts just takes the click of a button. You can also draw parts that would be difficult to master by hand, such as the intake up above. As an analogy, compare the technology to decals. The best print quality for decals comes with screen printing, but that's not possible for he home user, and it's prohibitively expensive to do for a single print. Printing decals on your laser printer at home will probably give you better results than hand-painting, though. For most people, a CAD model will give better fidelity than old-school scratchbuilding, and going with a less-expensive bureau can yield acceptable results. If you want "professional quality" though, you need to fork out, and that's not really a realistic value for the average modeller.

Longer term, as prices decrease, you can produce shapes that would be difficult or impossible to cast. Pouring intake trunks is tricky - they're long, with thin walls. *Printing* intake trunks is a piece of cake. Or complex structures like roll cages. Impossible to cast cleanly, easy when it's a single print. A Japanese manufacturer, Modelfactory Hiro actually released a multimedia race car last year with a 3D printed frame. In this case, its cheaper for the seller. Rather than constantly pouring moulds, or carrying inventory, the parts can be created on-demand. It's easier to scale production up or down.

In the *current* example, at places like Shapeways, where you can sell your stuff directly through the site, it's *much* easier for the seller. They don't have to do anything once the model is uploaded. They don't collect the money, they don't produce the model, they don't ship the model. Shapeways does. Unfortunately, those models still kind of suck. But once you get consumer-oriented bureaus able to produce

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In WSF, it's $6. In FUD, it's $15. Vero Blue is $34. Nano White is $81. Nano Ultra is $137. If you're just looking for a shape, and can do the grunt work to smooth it out and make it "model ready", it's pretty cheap. If you're expecting AiRes quality, it's pretty expensive (though you're also using AiRes technology).

Excellent information, many thanks for posting!

Rob

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a update for you all my parts are all drawn i paid the place all i am waiting is for them to print and send them to me. when they do ill post pictures

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