Updated September 2019

3D Printing the Smart Way

The place to learn about 3D printing… Start here to build your 3D printing knowledge base.

Previously I introduced 3D printing and how I began the process and my adventure. I continue that adventure with this entry.

Once a drawing has been created, what is next?

Printing of course! Desktop 3D printers can be purchased or a third party can be hired to print for you. In the book Makers by Chris Andersen he spoke often of the MakerBot which creates desktop 3D printers. I researched the possibility of owning my own machine which I quickly decided not to do, printers cost $2,000 to $3,000. Being so new and a bit timid I decided a third party was the way to go. Again recommended in the book Makers, I opened a free account at Shapeways.com.

A nice feature about Shapeways is any drawing submitted is screened by FoldingSupportinternal processes to determine if the measurements meet minimum tolerances for printing and what materials will or will not work for printing. Pretty cool. In my case, Stony the artist I hired emailed me indicating that certain parts of the folding double header trailer cannot be reproduced due to size in 1/64 scale. For example, the hydraulic cylinder ram true to scale was too small and brittle for printing. I had to decide if I wanted true 1/64 scale without moving parts or fudge on the scale so the piece operates. I chose “operate” as Rockin H Fans have said that is what they want.

3D Material and Finish

Material, so far I have had my parts printed in the “versatile plastic” and the “processed versatile plastic”. The basic difference is the finish. The versatile plastic has a rough texture and the processed versatile is substantially smoother. So far I favor the processed. Slightly more expensive but I think worth it in the long run. I’ve not used any of the other materials for printing yet. I hope a customer will order something in stainless steel or silver though. That would be totally cool.

Will I Need This Item More Than Once?

3d printing example of the Rockin H Hoist

Single scissor parts wired together

Super Nova TIP in this article. I learned this from Tom in the UK who made Rockin H Hoist for end dump trucks. Do this yourself or ask your artist to save your parts in batches, this will save you money. How does it work? Glad you asked. I will use the Rockin H hoist as an example using the actual costs I pay. If I select versatile plastic as the printing material for a hoist, I will be charged $5.00 per item printed. If I order 10 I pay $50.00 for the hoists. Not unreasonable really. But I can do better and here is where you save money by batching. I upload a file that has 10 hoists wired together and buy 10 in one print job versus 10 separately. The cost break down looks like this. I buy a batch of 10 wired together for $27.48. The savings by batching this item is $22.52 or $2.52 per hoist. 3D printing service cost of 10 scissors hoists wired together

The long a short of batching is this, I use redundant parts and want 5, 10, 20 parts at a time. This is where batching saves me money and necessary to make 3D work well for me. In my Shapeways store I list single items and builder “packs” for those that want multiple items and a way to save a few dollars.

Delivery Lead Time

There are three manufacturing options. Standard at no additional cost, Priority and Rush. To print the AS18 grain bed using priority and rush is $12.61 and $84.04 respectively. When checking out, Shapeways website indicates a tentative ship date. Depending on volume, the parts generally ship six days from the date an order is placed unless the priority or rush options are selected.  Shipping options include in the U.S. include Value $4.99, Standard $8.99, Two Day $11.99, Nextday $15.99 and Ship with last order Free. The options are straigt forward less “Ship with last order”. What that means, if I have order 1 in production and place a second order, the second order can be shipped with the first order already being made at no additional cost. The first order will be delayed unitl order 2 is complete. This option only works if there are order(s) in progress.  

Ready to learn more? In Part 3, I share Tips for Prepping and Painting 3D Printed Parts.

There was quite a learning curve involved so do subscribe to my newsletter to get the latest 1.64 scale tutorials and help guides. Please ask questions in the comment box.

Updated September 2019