On the interplay between scratchbuilding and 3D printing

  • 4 posts
  • Last reply 1 year, 8 months ago
  • 3D printing, CAD, ship modelling, tie-down
Viewing 1 - 4 of 4 posts
  • Michel Verschuere said 2 years, 9 months ago:


    Just wanted to report on some 3D printing I am doing for a 1/72 build of the WW2 escort carrier USS Gilbert Islands (CVE-107).

    This carrier has a 500-ft long flight deck with tie-down racks. These have a unique kind of shape, like inverted “U” and straight “U” (hard to explain, see crash picture).

    There are several suppliers offering photo-etch parts in various scales but I had an issue when deciding how to plank the deck. I use 0.8 mm vineer wood to model the wooden deck structure in 2mm wide cutouts, yes there are many :(… photo etched tie-down racks are much thinner and therefo rerequire a lower support to get a flat and even deck finish.

    As I own a 3D printer (Prusa i3, http://www.prusa3d.com/) printing a 1.75 mm wide PLA filament, I decided to use it for making the tie-down straps myself. Given I need about 20 scale metres (yes 20) of this tie down rack, it is surely a cheaper option.

    As most of you will not be familiar with 3D printing procedures, here is a short guide on how I did it:

    Step 1: I first built a 3D model (solid) using OpenScad. This is a freely downloadable piece of software used to “program” the 3d shape, see picture. After proper scaling (the tie-down straps are about 3 mm wide in 1/72 scale) I exported an .stl file. http://www.openscad.org

    Step 2: I open the .stl file in Slic3r, a 3d driver software programme. With this, you take the 3d solid model file in .stl format, scale it and make it print-ready based on your 3D-printers internal settings (filament width, layer step size, printing speed, etc). I then saved the .Gcode printer file on the SD card that fits into my Prusa i3. http://slic3r.org/

    Step 3: Involves the printing itself, you need to experiment a bit, but I found the best settings after one test run. I took some pictures during this run for you to enjoy.

    I think 3D printing can be of great help in scratch build projects although you won’t get all the manual work out of the way. But of course what would be fun about printing the whole model? 🙂

    I hope I gave a little illustration of what is possible using the relatively new technique of 3D printing.

    For those who have questions or want to get code, let me know.

    Dr. Michel Verschuere.

    [email protected]

    6 attached images. Click to enlarge.

  • Jeff Bailey said 2 years, 3 months ago:

    Fascinating. Thanks for the brief introduction … that went right over my head! Ha! However, I can fully appreciate what you’ve done. Thanks for sharing.

  • Johannes Gerl said 2 years, 3 months ago:

    Bonjour Michel,
    this is one of the most impressing contributions to modeling that I’ve been reading for quite a while.
    By a twist of fate I have recently become an employee of Dassault Systems – the Catia company. Of course we have 3D printing on our list and as a modeler you can’t help making up your mind what this means for your hobby.
    Here is my thinking:
    In a time not too far from now I believe buying a kit will mean downloading the digital 3D model of its parts and printing them at home. It could also mean that, in parts or completely, we’ll be doing the modeling of the 3D-data ourselves just as you did.
    I do expect however that creating a full 3D digital model of a complex subject will remain the work of specialists. I’m excited to hear about your experiences.
    Will we be able to print out models completely? Well yes, but the part break down will obviously be defined by the paintability. I guess the parts will simply be more similar to the real thing.

  • Michel Verschuere said 1 year, 8 months ago:

    Hi Johannes, indeed, I thought about this some time ago because the 3D techniques get better and better. There are some road blocks however like availability of well maintained and low resolution printers. In my view, the Digital Light Processing printers (DLP) are the best suited for us semi-rivet counters. My printer is a Prusa i3 Fused Deposition Modelling (FDM) type with usually ABS filament 1,75 mm. DLP is heavier to maintain and also costlier, so we’re not there yet.

    I once wrote a few slides on this subject, including how I see the aftermarket impacted by impacted by 3d printing, there indeed, your concept can work as margins are higher and batches are smaller.

    If you like I can look up the presentation, just drop me a PM on [email protected]

    Cheers! Michel.

    PS: Sorry, I just spotted your comments just now although being a regular imodeler visitor 🙁

Viewing 1 - 4 of 4 posts