3D printing locomotive shells with Shapeways has always been a gamble as regards to the orientation of the shell on the print bed. Understandably, in order keep the cost of the print sensible, the print ended up on its side or totally upside-down as this is the cheapest way for them to print. The disadvantage is often the best surface finish would be on the underside of the model.
However back in the beginning of October this year Shapeways added their ‘Orientation Tool’ for the FUD and FXD materials allowing the 3D print orientation to be fixed by the designer; me! You can read more about the tool on my post here.
My original intention was to immediately set all my locomotive shells to print orientated in such a way as to give the best finish possible. But this does come at a cost, especially with large locomotives like my Alco C-855 which has a huge volume of space under the shell. This space needs to be totally filled with support material in order to print the roof.
After experimenting with different compromises and ideas I came to the conclusion that I didn’t want to cut corners; the best has to be available for those who want it but it was unfair to simply push all the prices up to achieve this. So I have decided to offer both: prints as they have always been as well as the shells with the orientation which will be set at the higher price.
Both models will be offered in FUD and FXD materials. The FXD ‘Deluxe’ will be the ultimate 3D print available. Hopefully all the models will be available on Shapeways by next week’s post.
As for new locomotive shells designs, well, I may design them differently. Doing things such as making the roof a separate part would bring the cost down dramatically by reducing the amount of support material needed, but this does raise some stability issues as well as creating a joint which would need to be concealed. However that’s the challenge, and I do have something on the drawing board, but that will have to wait for another post.