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Discussion Starter #1
I searched but didn't see much on this subject that is recent, and the technology is changing rapidly. So a few questions (I would work at HO scale.)

1. I assume the plastic can be painted, but is there a best filament/paint combination? I realize there are colored filaments, but I don't think it would be as good as paint, considering weathering, etc.

2. Is there enough detail (HO) to print a side of a boxcar (rivets/slots/handrails, etc)? I see many printers at the 50 to 100 micron range (is 100 enough?)

3. Can plastic modelers glue be used or is there a specific type of glue that is needed (probably related to question 1)?
 

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Railroad Tycoon
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Railroad Tycoon
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You will have to go thru them, I did real quick and I saw HO in titles.
I never had a 3 d printer. Hoped that helped a little.
 

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Railroad Tycoon
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Someone here has them,a few do.
They might chime in with a little help too.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thanks,
Yes, there's 460 search results, but very view I looked at (sorted most recent) addressed my questions. The problem with forum searches is you can likely find posts that may answer a question, but not have addition information to answer further questions. Also, a majority of results seemed to be in the 2015-2018 range. It's 2020 and the technology has been rapidly changing, so I decided it would be better to attempt to find someone that has recent experience and can give some advice.
 

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Railroad Tycoon
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OK, there was some talk not too long ago.
Someone will surely chime in with help.
Like I said I never had one, I can't help.

If anything we are bumping the thread along.:)
 

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Filament type printers are marginal for HO detail. You could do buildings, but I've tried things like RR crossing signs and was not particularly pleased with the results. Then again this is with a $<200 FDM printer (an Anet A6 that is now several years old and still producing!). If you are after fine detail then it takes a resin printer and a lot of other support equipment to get really great results. No matter which way you go its a steep learning curve, so you do need to spend some time just getting to the point of producing acceptable results. Some things that I have found interesting to print are common things like knobs for electronic projects. Seems like a simple think to buy, but trying to find what you want is not that easy, but you can print several out and decide what you really like (this is a simple example). I typically print what is call PLA type filament and some PETG -- avoiding those that produce obnoxious fumes (ABS) and both are easily painted with acrylics. I also use Octoprint to load files into the printer and start/stop/power control along with remote viewing as the printer is working, one of the better things I did. Uses a Rasberry PI computer that provides a website on my network to control the printer.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Thank you Lemonhawk. That really helps! I do have a lot of experience with the software side with Fusion 360, some other solid CAD packages, and many 3D Modeling apps like 3d Coat, so that side of things should be easier.
FDM printer
 

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i have a clone of a prusa i3, had it for about 2 years now ...
it;s a filament type printer, pretty standard, was maybe 160 canadian for
the kit including shipping, came from a site in canada ..
good enough for boxcars in HO. but a little lacking in hanrails, i use wire grabs anyways ..
rivets i never added so really cant say on that ..
don't use it much now, but it paid for itself fairly quickly in getting some old time truss rod rolling stock made
if you want to see good rivet heads maybe a resin printer is better for you, but increased cost and much more clean up too ..
 

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I agree with Lemonhawk that detail in filament printers is often not where you'd want it for HO scale, and there is the issue of noticeable layering on most prints. A lot of this depends on the actual printer model, of course.

I have an Anycubic Photon SLA printer which uses liquid resin fused by an ultraviolet light. There is also an Anycubic Photon S which has some upgraded features. The Elegoo Mars is a similar printer to the Photon. Both the Photon and the Mars run in the high $200's, the Photon S is about $450. Definitely affordable for the home modeler.

You can print just about any 3D model file you can find on these, although it helps to have 3D modeling software to clean up models, or to separate them into parts for easier printing. A complicated 4" miniature figure rendered in the slicer software in less than 2 minutes, and took about 14 hours to print. Detail is really only limited by what you can get on your wireframe model, and the height of the item being printed has a much higher effect on printing time than the amount of detail (an entire slice, or layer, is printed at the same time).

Getting the printers leveled and calibrated the first time is a bit of a learning curve; and getting the hang of where to place supports so things print properly even more so (Anycubic's slicer software will place supports, and it's pretty good at it, but you often have to tweak it manually).

There are some things to be aware of, though. First, the resin is expensive, and has a very strong burned rubber smell when printing (one of the advanced features of the Photon S is a filter to get rid of the worst of it). Second, you can't just yank your print off the bed and use it. You need to wash off the excess resin with alcohol or strong household cleaner, rinse in water, and then finish curing the print with a UV light of some kind. Anycubic sells a machine to make this easier, but you can use a couple of Tupperware or Glad containers and a plant light.

Here is a picture of a figure we created and printed, to give you an idea of the detail possible. We could have added a lot more details -- textures to the horse's hair, etc (you can effectively print chain or scale mail), but it wasn't worth the effort for what this figure will be used for -- any lack of detail is laziness on our part, not the ability of the printer to make it. The little nubs on the stand are where supports were. A quick swipe with a file or sandpaper gets rid of them.

545413
 

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I also have an FDM printer, and attempted printing people in HO scale last year with a 0.2mm nozzle. It did not turn out well. However I've had a year of practice and experience now, and I've learned that the problems I was having are due to trying to print these figures at regular speed. For really small stuff you need to slow down the print speed considerably, plus I think it would help to include a delay between layers to give the filament time to cool. I've been working on building a shelf layout this year, but eventually I'll get back to attempting to print people again. My inclination is that HO people are right on the limit of what an FDM printer can manage right now, but as long as you're not looking for details beyond a nose and chin it should be possible.

For printing cars, fine details such as rivets are definitely out. I've been working on models for wooden flatcar frames (HO and HOn3), and even the queen posts are pushing the limits with the standard 0.4mm nozzle and regular speeds. However if you want to just print out a frame that is ready for trucks and couplers, that can be done pretty easily, then you can add the details similar to building a kit. Check with Tichy train group, they have a LOT of detail parts available for great prices.

So as others have said, if you want the fine details you'll have to go with an SLA printer. If you're just looking for something to print some items real quick, then FDM will get you by.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Thanks for all the replies. Looks like one could make a lot of mistakes when choosing a printer.
 

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if it makes any difference, the one i got had a heated bed and automatic bed leveling software ..
made it a little easier, didn't need any extra glue on the bed
 

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When I first got my Anet A6, the printing was not the best, but one thing nice about 3d printers is that you can make (print) improvements! With the addition of belt tensioners and fastening the printer down, the prints come out better and better!. Here's the last thing I just printed - a cookie cutter for my daughter. Direct from the printer with no after polishing.
545436
 

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I’ve been thinking of getting one but haven’t pulled the trigger. It could be nice to have one though
 

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I didn't know how much I needed one until I got mine. :D
 
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I didn't know how much I needed one until I got mine. :D
Isn't that the truth??? Getting started making your own models is a bit daunting, however there are CAD programs available for use from absolute beginner through to industrial expert. I've designed a simple baffle for my DCC speakers, a jig for forming curves in flex track, a jig for building turnouts, even some simple T-nuts for the assembly of my shelf layout. I have a lot of fun making my own things, but there's also a significant cost savings. For example, you can buy DCC speaker kits with baffles for around $20, but I buy speakers from ebay for $1 and print my own baffle in whatever size I need for only a few cents. Definitely worth the $300 I invested in the printer itself.
 
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