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For RTR Irish Models - will 3D printing ever be as good as injection moulding?

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Currently 3D printing for 00 scale Irish RTR models seems a long way behind injection moulded plastic in terms of finish quality and fine detail.


However is 3D in the future ever likely to evolve to the higher quality and level of precision that is currently only achieved by injection moulding (IM)?


Obviously IM is vastly more expensive to set up for small production runs, but 3D is fairly inexpensive if one can accept the quality differential enough to be able to run rare Irish RTR stock. Is current 3D technology like the early days of 'ink jet' printing before the quality issues were resolved and mass market appeal drove costs down as quality improved?

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3D printing is the equivalent of a dot matrix printer, and won't ever get to inkjet level.


It's an additive lamination process. The next step is the reductive or removal by laser process.


Thanks Richie. What do you think about Laser based SLA v FDM? It seems to be able to get down to 25 microns on some new consumer models costing approx €1550. There seems to be quite a difference in finish quality between SLA and FDM.

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FDM is the roll method and is limited in it's resolution - effectively you'll still get a toothpaste finish. 0.01mm resolution is too coarse for finescale modelling and just looks rubbish.


SLA is stereolithography printing where UV light dictates where liquid resin cures, so has a much tighter resolution. https://all3dp.com/best-sla-3d-printers/


Way forward for making home grown masters from which to make moulds for resin from.

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I've been 3d printing for over five years now, it's developing all the time. It'll get there, the same way other technologies developed in their own time. I really enjoy it, but its' not for everyone at the moment - that's fine, but there are ways to improve and get a smooth finish.


Cheers for now.


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Very much agree with Glenderg, for though I have no knowledge of 3d printing, resin castings from your own masters is easy and relatively cheap for small runs. Many of Arigna Town's wagons are resin cast and the moulds even pick up 'wood grain' made by scuffing the surface with a fibre glass pencil.

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Ultimately, it boils down to detail. To make a mould for anything, be it injection moulding or resin, the master is key. Look at mayners mgwr whitemetal axle boxes and you can tell he's put effort it. It shows in the end product, but that was most likely hand made with some etched brass.


3D printing has an enormous way to go, but when it gets there, you'll be able to have cottage industries producing master tools at a fraction of the price a spark eroding company would.


Whether you manufacturer in China or Charleville, getting the moulds right is king. If the accuracy and detail are there,and the resin product and the fellow behind it are squared away, you can get RTR levels of detail, without compromise.


Brittania Pacific Models in th UK are case in point. Best resin casting I've ever seen....

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