End of Year Sale

As promised, this week’s post will be nice and quick as today is a holiday, ‘Boxing Day’, here in the UK.

Thanks to Shapeways, who are rounding off the year with an ‘end of year sale’, I’m able to offer sale prices on some of my printed products. They are offering 20% off all Frosted Ultra Detail, Frosted Extreme Detail, and all Strong & Flexible Plastics through January 1st with code FAREWELL2016. You can use the links in the blog or shop on Shapeways site direct, just enter the code at the checkout.

Next week’s post will be the first for 2017 and I’ll be sharing with you the first of many new products.

For now that just leaves me to thank you for your continued support through this year and for 2017 I’d like to wish you all a very Happy New Year!

3D Printing in Extreme High Definition for All – from Shapeways

In January of this year I shared with you some 3D printed locomotive shells that had been printed in Extreme High Definition by a firm in London, England called Impossible Creations Ltd.  You can find the post here.  Since then other companies have been branching out into higher definition printing as the demand for better quality prints has been rising.  Shapeways have now entered this market with their new Frosted Extreme Detail plastics.

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The image above is from Shapeways’ launch blog post on their website. (That is not my finger.)

Frosted Extreme Detail or FXD is basically the same as the Extreme High Definition I have already used from Impossible Creations. It is printed in the same type of printer made by 3D Systems.  The only difference is the material. Impossible Creations use VisiJet M3 Procast which is a blue material, originally designed to be used in a lost cast process to manufacture jewelry from 3D printed models.  Shapeways use VisiJet M3 Crystal which is the translucent material we all know as Frosted Detail and Frosted Ultra Detail.

FXD has a much smaller layer thickness than FD or FUD, the thickness is measured in Microns and the thinner the layer the higher the definition or resolution.

FD prints at 32 Microns

FUD prints at 29 Micros

FXD prints at 16 Micros

Shapeways have set their parameters for printing in FXD to the same level as FUD; with the exception of the boundary box.  The boundary box is the overall size of model which you can print and they have done this for a very simple reason; time.  They have set the size to 50mm by 50mm by 200mm,  200mm being the hight.  If this space is full at a 16 micron layer thickness it will take 48 hours to print.  If they had set it to 200mm by 200mm by 200mm it would take 192 hours or 8 days!  Keeping the time down keeps this material cost effective.

Fortunately for a lot of my models this is not to much of an issue as most will fit, well maybe not the O Scale stuff!  The majority of my models have already been switched over so they are now available in both FUD & FXD.  One of the nice things about this, apart from the better quality, is the price.  Although the FXD costs more per cubic centimeter the base price is still the same.  Shapeways are charging a $5 fixed fee per model, as they do with FUD, plus the material costs.  So small models like my N Scale Three Chime Horns, as pictured below, are only $0.50 more expensive for a much higher quality in FXD.

Horns 3

Larger models like locomotive shells will end up costing a bit more.  For example my N Scale Baldwin RT-624, as pictured below, in FUD costs $55.  In FXD it costs $80.22. That may sound like quite a hike in price but when compared to other companies offering the same lelvel of high quality printing the price rise is actually minimal. (Please note the actual price varies depending on your country, taxes and currency exchange rate).

Baldwin RT-624 Render 3

A few of my models are still being converted, such as the big EMD DD35 so they are not available in FXD just yet. But it won’t be long.  If there’s a model that you would like in FXD and it is not yet available please contact me through the Contact Page or drop me an email at jamestrainparts@yahoo.co.uk and I can either make it available or let you know when it will be.

One downside to this exciting news is that Shapeways will no longer be offering models in their FD material.  This is because FD requires a lot more support material, which is as expensive as the main material.   So in order to make it cost effective they need to raise the price; however this will make it the same price as FUD which is a higher resolution material and therefore FD will become redundant.

This is a shame because FD was beneficial to large-scale models such as my O Scale UP Tender.  At such a large-scale the cost difference between FD and FUD was a lot. These are definitely too big for FXD.  However Shapeways will be continuing to offer FD untill the 29th of April 2015.  I know that is not long but you can still order the FD O Scale tenders untill then.

Another bit of good news, Shapeways are offering 10% off all orders untill the 23rd of April 2015 with the discount code ‘THANKYOU10‘.

All of my new models will also be available in FXD including the big Alco C-855 which will be making an appearance soon.  I will also be making my own orders in the FXD and I will be sharing them with you, that’s if you don’t beat me to it using the discount code.

N Scale Etched Chain Link Fencing – With An Intoductory Offer

A few fellow modellers and I are building some new N Scale modules for our Solent Summit modular layout. Several of these modules will require chain link fences and a discussion about what to use led me to produce my own N Scale etched chain link fencing products.

*These will be available for regular purchase in two weeks but I have an introductory offer for this product available this week only. Please see the end of the post for details.*

For the modules we are building there are three main types of chain link fence needed. Type 1 is a basic straight 10 foot long and 6 foot high section with 3 lines of barbed wire on top. Type 2 is the same panel as Type 1 but includes a small personnel gate. Type 3 is a large pair of access gates, again with the barbed wire on top. A 4th type was also discussed that did not have the barbed wire on top but it was decided that the existing barbed wire could easily be cut off.

The fence style is a typical configuration for chain link fences; tubular post and top cross rails for support and close pattern mesh. Here is a link to a typical example, and another here. Both from United Fence of Hattiesburg.

As always with my designs the process starts with 3D drawing or modelling, in this case it was a simple matter of drawing the different sections of fence as you can see below. The first and third sections from the left are standard panels. The second has the personnel door. The forth and seventh section include a diagonal brace to support the gate post. And the fifth and sixth sections are the actual gates giving a 20 foot opening.

Chain Link Fence Render

Although 3D printing is suitable for constructing modelling components, for this fencing I am using metal etching. This has many advantages; etched metal components are strong and can be very thin. As this fencing is for N Scale at 1:160 the actual chain links will need to be thin to be believable. Although most of my etched metal parts to date have been made from brass the fencing will be made from stainless steel. Firstly this is because it will already be the right colour and will not need any painting. Secondly stainless steel is a lot stronger than brass. This means the base metal can be a lot thinner without losing its strength. Using this to my advantage I have been able to select a very thin metal, 5 thou thick, and also half etch the actual chain link section. This means the fence part is only 2.5 thou thick and appears to run behind the post just like the original.

With the design agreed upon the sections of fencing were laid out in a practical configuration. This took the form of a one hundred foot length of fencing. Each length will be in its own etched fret. A fret is an etched section of metal that has the final part and its supporting frame. Three different styles of fret make up one sheet as you can see below. The first six frets are all Type 1 fencing consisting of ten regular panels. The next three frets are Type 2 which is also ten regular panels but every fifth panel has a personnel gate. The last two frets are the Type 3 with two sets of large access gates and two regular panels making up the one hundred foot of fencing.

Chin Link Fence Blog Post 1

In total a whole sheet has 1100 foot of fencing on it. To show you how easy the fencing is to work with I have cut a Type 2 fret out of this sheet as you can see below. This is how a fret will normally be delivered unless you buy a whole sheet.

Chin Link Fence Blog Post 2

Zooming in closer you can see that the chain link is thinner than the posts.

Chin Link Fence Blog Post 3

The one hundred foot fence is fixed into the fret at six points with tabs; you can see two on the left of the photo above. These have been half etched where the tab connects to the fence so they can easily be cut with a craft knife.

The personnel gates have three hinges on one side and a lock on the other also represented by a half etched section.

Chin Link Fence Blog Post 4

To give you an idea of the size of the fret; here it is alongside a 4-8-2 steam locomotive.

Chin Link Fence Blog Post 8

Cutting the fence from the fret simply requires six cuts with a craft knife through the tabs as mentioned above. As you can see in the image below each post protrudes down past the bottom of the chain links. This is to allow a good fixing into your layout.

Chin Link Fence Blog Post 9

To help position the fencing I have included holes along the top of the fret which line up with the post. I have used a standard sewing needle to position the first post hole as shown below.

Chin Link Fence Blog Post 10

Then, without removing the needle, I used a second needle to mark out the other holes. Keeping the first needle in the base board stops the fret from sliding and losing its position. If your base board is made from a very hard material a small drill can also be used.

Chin Link Fence Blog Post 11

Once all the holes have been marked I removed the fret and increased the holes slightly by pushing the needle in a bit further. Then I simply offered the fence section up to the holes and starting at one end lowered the posts into the holes.

Chin Link Fence Blog Post 12

The fence is very stable and, assuming the holes are deep enough, the mesh will rest on the ground. Below is the installed fence again with big 4-8-2 behind it.

Chin Link Fence Blog Post 13

The steam locomotive is quite large so to show you that the fence is the correct size, below is a shot with the fence and an N Scale X-Act ruler. The top bar of the fence is six feet high and the barbed wire post project up another two feet.

Chin Link Fence Blog Post 14

As I said before the personnel gates and large accesses gates have half etched hinges and locks. The locks can easily be cut with your craft knife and the gates can be opened as shown below,

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Quite often the barbwire sections at the top of these fences are bent over at an angle; this can easily be replicated. I used a pair of flat end tweezers to bend each post top over and the barbwire went with them.

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Not all fences are straight so using the holes on the fret again I put a needle into the last hole on the straight line then rotated the fret around it. I then marked the next hole.

Chin Link Fence Blog Post 25

Leapfrogging the needles and rotating the fret each time will give a curve with correctly spaced post holes.

Chin Link Fence Blog Post 26

The fence section then drops back into the holes.

Chin Link Fence Blog Post 27

The fence is surprisingly strong which will help in the event it is knocked on the layout. Below is a photo showing a Micro-trains coupling checker block resting on the fence. The block is quite heavy, for N scale, and only the barbwire flexed a bit, the fencing didn’t move.  Even when the stainless steel fencing is loose it is still considerably stronger than brass.  Also unlike details like handrails the mesh structure is a strong pattern even though its is thin.

Chin Link Fence Blog Post 28

It is very easy to see how quickly a scene can be made with this fencing.

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The large access gates are installed in the same way except there is no post between the gates.

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As well as using these fences on our modules I am also going to make them available to buy. Please note that the £ to $ conversion rate is subject to change, and the base currency is £ GBP.

Typically each fret, 100 foot of fencing will cost £4.00 GBP ($5.90 USD) plus P&P.

However as this is a new product I will be offering it at an introductory price £3.00 GBP ($4.50 USD) plus P&P per fret or £30.00 GBP ($44.00 USD) plus P&P for a whole sheet, 1100 feet of fencing.

This offer is only available until 22.00 EST on Sunday the 19th April 2015.

I will be ordering my stock on the 20th of April 2015 and will be shipping orders out on or before the following week.

Chin Link Fence Blog Post 36

Please contact me though the contact page or directly at jamestrainparts@yahoo.co.uk if you are interested in any chain link fencing and I can confirm P&P and details.

Next week I will be sharing with you some more development with 3D printing and some advancements in higher quality 3D printing.