US based alternatives to Shapeways

prbharris Jan 23, 2019

  1. prbharris

    prbharris TrainBoard Supporter

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    The new pricing structure for Shapeways products will significantly increase prices for a number of N Scale Kits additional products when the grandfathering ends in February. Are there any alternatives that are US based that we should talk to about holding our files for printing and delivering direct to US customers?

    Peter

    Peter Harris
    N Scale Kits
    www.nscalekits.com
     
  2. JMaurer1

    JMaurer1 TrainBoard Member

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    Two words: Anycubic Photon

    They have a newer model coming out any day so I would wait for that one, but with it you become your own Shapeways for under $500.
     
  3. NtheBasement

    NtheBasement TrainBoard Member

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    Not that this helps but I think Shapeways ships from Queens NY.
     
  4. MK

    MK TrainBoard Member

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    Well, it's a little more complicated than that. You do need to know how to use CAD software (whichever one you chose) and design the item you want. And if the item is complex in shape you may run into print problems.
     
  5. IronPenguin

    IronPenguin TrainBoard Member

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    Indeed. I've been doing 3D with a filament printer for several years and considering moving up to resin for the ability to do really detailed stuff. However...
    It's a whole different process and not remotely plug n play. The learning curve is apparently pretty darned steep. I'd urge anyone considering it to join one of the several 3d groups and do the research before buying.
     
  6. randgust

    randgust TrainBoard Member

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    I got a shell from this outfit via one of my customers - it was originally a Shapeways print in FUD.

    https://outoftheboxmodels.com/

    I was floored by the quality of it. It was better than anything I'd ever seen, no ridging, no striation, very smooth and ready to paint (no soaking to remove residual wax). He's just getting into it, and he admitted he should have let stuff cure longer before he shipped it, but the surface and results were still better than anything I'd ever seen in Shapeways except that black acetal stuff that the TP56 shell was done it, and I guess they no longer offer that.

    It looks like he's taken over David Cuttings design concepts. I had Shapeways prints from David and worked with him on it, and they just weren't good-quality prints, design detail lost in striation. The TP56 was dead-smooth, but was still a little warped coming out from Shapeways. But I'm telling you, this is a different printer with far different material and MUCH better results, this is what I thought was always possible, just hadn't seen it commercially available. One of my friends sons works for Disney, and they can do RP like this on their test toy designs, I've seen it. Same quality.

    His pricing is very good, and because he has his own printer, he's controlling both the designs and the printing so that Shapeways doesn't walk off with all the margin instead of the designer - which in my opinion is a looser with Shapeways services. Much better quality, better price. Paradigm shift for us N scalers.
     
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2019
  7. SLSF Freak

    SLSF Freak Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    If you're considering it - do it. I made the transition from FDM last May and I'm still in love with my Photon - it just blows me away every day. Learning curve isn't that bad and failed prints are so much cleaner and less wasteful than FDM (when it fails you just end up with a thin shadow of resin inside the vat as opposed to spaghetti all over the place..lol) You do have to think about orientation but you have to do the same for FDM. So I'd say unless you're used to multi-thousand dollar FDM printers that do everything for you, you're more than qualified to run a Photon. I'd be happy to help answer any questions anybody has on it.

    Mike
     
  8. Tony Burzio

    Tony Burzio TrainBoard Supporter

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    I read elsewhere that Shapeways is only more expensive if you violate certain rules, which they publish. Check out other forums, paying attention to anything with the word “sprue”, a small change can make the job cost swing wildly...
     
  9. SLSF Freak

    SLSF Freak Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    Shapeways provides guidelines on how to design printable products, but for several months now they've removed pricing rules which caused quite an uproar with us designers. If you violate a rule they don't make it more expensive, they just refuse to print it. As designers, we want our products to be low cost so that people buy them. We used to study the rules and design with those rules in mind to keep our items as affordable as possible. Pricing was pretty much up front... X amount to process, Y amount per part, Z amount for material volume, D amount for the space it used in the machine, E amount for support material used, F amount to post process, etc. You could easily figure out why something cost so much, but now it's a secret unless they've changed course and I missed it. This is partially why a lot of designers have taken interest in Photon printers to cut out Shapeways as much as we can. Shapeways still has a place, but we don't need them like we did before. A lot of the R&D prints I would normally have to farm out to Shapeways can be done at home now, saving me a ton of money and time. It's funny that Shapeways would tell us they're getting some new printers that are supposed to make things more affordable. Then when they got them, products cost double that of their older printers. :eek: I did my part and fought with them to explain that these printers were going to change the game for them. They shrugged.
     
    Onizukachan likes this.
  10. IronPenguin

    IronPenguin TrainBoard Member

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    Yeah, I think the "hobbyist" printers like Photon are game changers. When the cheapest were still several thousand dollars, it didn't make sense for most individuals. But now, they're in the same price range as a mid-priced computer. I know I'm going to get one, but I just have too much on my plate right now to devote the time to get up to speed on one.
     
  11. Onizukachan

    Onizukachan TrainBoard Supporter

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    I know I’m goign to make friends with someone that has one... *nudge nudge wink wink*

    ;)
     
  12. Inkaneer

    Inkaneer TrainBoard Member

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    3D printers have come down in price quite a lot of late. Ebay has several models in the $200 range or less. As usual all have their good and not so good points. Apparently there exists free software to make models of any particular scale from another scale. Here is a good You Tube video that gives a good basic introduction to the 3D printing process.



    This next link is for those who lament the fact that particular models are made in a scale other than N but who don't have the expertise to design their own model. Now you can reproduce anything in N scale using photogrammetry.



    Neat stuff.
     
  13. IronPenguin

    IronPenguin TrainBoard Member

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    Photogrammetry is pretty neat, but there's a few things that need to be considered. I've done quite a bit of research on scanners, photogrammetry, etc, (I haven't done it myself,) but this is my understanding of the art as it stands now:

    The video showed a 1 to 1 replication and the details of the bust were great.

    Apparently the main problem is that when you reduce the mesh down to our modeling level, the details turn to mush. And if you photograph a small object, the camera doesn't capture the fine detail for the software to convert. So depending on the object, if it needs nice detail to look good, it just doesn't work out.

    If you've seen ads for shops that offer a 3D model of yourself, they look great. But they use expensive, high-end scanners and high-end printers. That's beyond our means in most cases. There are ads online for low cost scanners for personal use, but my research on them indicates they really don't work well. Lots of disappointed customers. I'd buy one in a heartbeat if I thought I could do good prints. Maybe someone in the group has had success with them. If so, I hope they jump in here.

    One interesting idea I saw was using the Xbox One Kinect as a scanner. But if you google it, you'll see the same problem - large models scaled down loose the details needed to make it look suitable for us.

    With all the advances being made in this field, I'm sure there will be a breakthrough on this technology. But for us, I think it's still not quite there.

    Addendum: the Remake software shown is no longer available from Autodesk as a standalone program. It's been replaced with ReCap on a cloud based subscription. Neither are/were cheap. $300 for Remake, $350/yr for Recap.

    There are a couple of free programs out there, tho. 3DF Zephyr looks decent. I might have to give it a go and offer the results here.
     
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  14. Inkaneer

    Inkaneer TrainBoard Member

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    But you can set the scale you want See video at the 6:07 mark). So if you are using a HO model all you have to do is measure between two points on the HO model then multiply that distance by 87.160 or .54375 then input that value into the program. A forty foot car in HO is about 5.51 inches. Multiply by .54375 and you have 2.999999 inches. so all you need to do is insert 3 inches into the required field and the program does the work.

    Maybe a good camera and using more triangles (see the video at the seven minute mark) would alleviate this problem???

    If you've seen ads for shops that offer a 3D model of yourself, they look great. But they use expensive, high-end scanners and high-end printers. That's beyond our means in most cases. There are ads online for low cost scanners for personal use, but my research on them indicates they really don't work well. Lots of disappointed customers. I'd buy one in a heartbeat if I thought I could do good prints. Maybe someone in the group has had success with them. If so, I hope they jump in here.

    One interesting idea I saw was using the Xbox One Kinect as a scanner. But if you google it, you'll see the same problem - large models scaled down loose the details needed to make it look suitable for us.

    With all the advances being made in this field, I'm sure there will be a breakthrough on this technology. But for us, I think it's still not quite there.

    Well that is a bummer. Free is always good.
     
  15. SLSF Freak

    SLSF Freak Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    I think that's the deal-breaker though. At least today. I have no doubt in the future this type of thing will be easy and doable but right now you won't be able to capture the fine detail needed from an HO model: latches, handles, grill patterns, etc. Maybe a G-Scale model or bigger, but not HO. You have to do so much cleanup on the scan result to make it usable that, if you're skilled enough to even do that your time would be better spent just modelling from scratch. This is only temporary though - with things advancing in this field it will probably only be a matter of waiting a year or two for this tech to scan a clean miniature. There are still loads of other things that have to be done before making it printable, but capturing the right amount of detail is step 1.

    Mike
     
  16. IronPenguin

    IronPenguin TrainBoard Member

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    That works to get the model`s dimensions the correct size for printing, but the size of the original object photographed, relative to how far it's scaled down, will determine the detail of the printed model. That bust scaled down would lose most of the fine detail. It would be recognizable probably, but not detailed.

    The larger the object you start out with, and the closer you can get the camera, the more detail you`ll have when it's scaled down. Perhaps if you shot a full size car fairly tight, it might scale down with good detail. (Oh man, I just have to try that now. ) But it just doesn't work (yet) with smaller objects.

    And unfortunately, scanning or creating the mesh is just the first step. You have to take it and use another software (like Meshmixer) to create a stl file that yet another software (a slicer) can use to create a file (gcode) that the printer can actually print. Each step can cost you resolution or misinterpret the file.

    Like SLSF Freak says, we'll probably get there with technology. But it's not there yet. It probably is easier now to start from scratch. If you're interested in basic 3D modeling, go online and find Tinkercad . It's a fun little program with which you can create some suprisingly detailed models.
     
  17. Mopar4wd

    Mopar4wd TrainBoard Member

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    My son got a $150 filament printer from Monoprice for Christmas. I was shocked at how good the print quality was for $150. Jury is still out on it thou as we have been having issues with the SD card slot.
     

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