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.
6 attached images. Click to enlarge.