3D Printers... are they good enough for our modeling?

03-17-2016, 08:46 AM
Since 3D printers are the latest craze... I would like to querry those of you that had experience or own these printers. These printers are definite a high cost equipment, are they that usefull to us modelers? Why? In addition to the printer, do you also purchased a scanner? Which printer and scanner do you recommend for our hobby? Why? Thanks for reading my post. Have a great day!

03-17-2016, 04:35 PM
Howdy from Texas,

Home based 3D printers can provide a valuable source for the scratch builder, but they are not yet ready to be used for general day-to-day modeling, in my opinion.

The resolution for and build size are generally not up to the standards required for modeling 1/24 scale cars. The lower priced printers that use a plastic filament have a very visible "pixelation" and the more precise resin types have a far better resolution but require you to maintain costly liquid chemicals that have a short shelf life. Both processes generally require a good deal of post printing work to get the smooth surfaces we'd come to expect for a plastic model. Finer details such as bolt heads and other surface details are still best done with standard scratch building techniques.

The cost of the printers has gone down considerably, but cost vs convenience of owning one is still high. For the amount of work that will actually be done on the printer, it is still cheaper to send your files to a 3rd party service and pay for them to print it for you.

Where these printers shine right now is in building the general shape of a car model. For example, let's say you want to scratch build a 1/24 race car. The printer can provide you the general shape of the car. You would then sand and fill the shape to remove the pixelation from the print job, then you would scribe in the door, hood and other details, then finish the model with items from your parts box (tires, wheels, engine, seats, glass???, etc). The printers are also excellent for producing bucks for metal working, items that you'd normally carve out of wood for this process.

If you want to produce model-ready parts and have the money to buy the more expensive resin printers, consider a CNC mill.

See this link: http://www.amazon.com/Sherline-8020-Complete-8-direction-Vcshobbies/dp/B007RFC77U/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1458249513&sr=8-1&keywords=sherline+cnc

While the CNC systems require much more input from you during the "printing" process it will produce excellent finished parts and shapes and can produce those parts using a variety of materials.

All that being said there are new 3D printing technologies on the horizon. This one called CLIP: http://carbon3d.com/ seems to produce superior finishes at incredible speed. Another system called Kraken 3D: http://krak3n3d.com/ has printing scanning and laser engraving in an all-in-one package but they have no performance information on their site yet. The technologies are always getting better and cheaper so you'll benefit from holding out before you buy.

To sum up, 3D printing will no doubt change the way we model, but, and this is still just my opinion, we have a way to go before it truly becomes modeler ready.

03-17-2016, 04:39 PM
For those interested in 3D printing look at the Autodesk line of 3D printing apps for your tablet or phone.


Of particular interest is 123D Catch: http://www.123dapp.com/catch which uses a cell phone or tablet to create 3d scans from their cameras.

And they are all free!

03-19-2016, 01:18 PM
You'll need a professional level printer in order to get the surface quality and detail required for small scale model building.
Unless you have 25000 Euro laying around for buying the cheapest high quality printer, you might consider using shapeways.com to print your parts.
I have used various online 3D printing services ever since 2006 to print parts for scale modeling.

03-20-2016, 03:45 AM
Great information, thanks guys!

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