3D printed track from Templot

Martin Wynne

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Martin Wynne

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I've added an option to put a bottom flange on the side of the timbers, to be hidden under the ballast:

bottom_flange1.png


This stiffens the timbers alongside through-hole sockets,especially for plain track sleepers as above. This should eliminate any need for the blind socket option.

Through-hole sockets offer several advantages:

1. if you plug in the wrong chair, or need to replace it, you can easily push it out from below.

2. if a chair is a bit loose, you can inject some glue around it from below.

3. no risk of a chair bottoming in the socket if you have left some remains of the support pyramid on it, or there is some debris in a blind socket.

The full-depth sprues are important for filament printing. They allowing "combing", meaning that the nozzle can reach all parts of every layer without any need to jump across open areas. Such jumps leave stringing on small components, regardless of the retraction settings I've tried. It's much easier to cut a full-depth sprue than clean up a part suffering badly from stringing. Just a tap with a sharp wood chisel does it*. But for resin printing you would probably set the sprue depth to about half timber depth, just enough to hold the timber spacing.

in the flesh:

bottom_flange4.jpg


The top surface has been given a quick rub over with a Garryflex block (or emery stick), followed by a rinse under the tap to remove the sandings.

There is an option to show the flanges on the printed templates, if you want to attach these timbers to a template for construction.

The cruel bit (4mm/ft sleepers, 3.3mm wide):

bottom_flange2.jpg


* this could also remove the unavoidable rounded corners on the timbers if you set the timber length a fraction longer than usual. But in practice the rounding is barely visible.

cheers,

Martin.
 
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Martin Wynne

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Here's another before-breakfast idea. It just needs a few changes to the flange and sprue settings, as you can see. I'm on the case. :)

With a few changes to the settings, the timbers could be individually resin-printed, with chairs or sockets. They could be bunched up and re-arranged on the printer build plate.

Then the filament printer need print only a slotted spacing framework to contain them. Much easier and faster to print -- a 3D alternative to a paper template:

flange_slots_only.png


If the timbers are glued into it, the framework could be left in place and buried in the ballast. Or it could be removed during construction.

Resin-printing the timbers gives a much cleaner result than the filament printer, with square corners and a better precision fit for the chair sockets.

It would also be possible to laser-cut the framework in thick card, or whatever. (Simply sticking the timbers to a paper template isn't too practical because of the need for them to be very precisely positioned and aligned, but some may want to try it. No filament printer or laser cutter needed.)

Martin.
 
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Martin Wynne

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Which leads to the thought that maybe a better way to create the spacing framework would be to use one of these, instead of 3D printing:


It seems the size goes up to 12" x 24" 60ft, much larger than home filament printers, and the machine software includes a DXF import.

Can I afford another Amazon delivery? Birthday coming up soon. And a very useful tool for model boats. :)

Martin.
 
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Martin Wynne

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And more thoughts.

It seems these cutters can easily cut 0.8mm card. If we used a good quality card, maybe it could cut the chair sockets with sufficient precision? And if sealed afterwards with shellac or similar, maybe this would be an adequate alternative to 0.8mm plywood for model timbers? Or maybe two layers could be laminated to match 1.6mm timbers and flexitrack?

card_timbers1.png

It wouldn't matter if it can't manage the sharp internal corners in the sockets, because the chair plugs have an angled relief across the corners.

The Silhouette software is free to download, so I tried it:

card_timbers2.png


No problems there importing the DXF from Templot.

The great advantage of this method, is the available work size. 12" wide and effectively any length you like. It would just be a matter of sourcing the card in large sheets, which shouldn't be a problem.

Laser cutters are getting comparable in price, but with a much smaller work area.

Food for thought.

Martin.
 
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David Catton

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UK
I use Inkscape software (also free) to draw up items to be cut using my Silhouette Cameo as I've found that easier to use than Silhouette's software. I've also used Inkscape to draw up my layout as well as etching masters.
 
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Martin Wynne

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I use Inkscape software (also free) to draw up items to be cut using my Silhouette Cameo as I've found that easier to use than Silhouette's software. I've also used Inkscape to draw up my layout as well as etching masters.
@David Catton

Thanks David.

Can you explain how you get the file from Inkscape into the Cameo? What file format do you use?

cheers,

Martin.
 
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David Catton

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Location
UK
Hi Martin,

I'm following this thread with bated breath as it looks as if it will accelerate building my layout so if I can make any small contribution to bringing your developments closer, I'll do anything I can. I've saved off the process I use from RMWeb but as it's in .docx format I've had to convert it to .pdf which I hope has worked . . .

Keep going - this is fascinating
 

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AndyB

Member
Now you're talking!

Bash out the timbers on a sheet then plug in the chairs. It's almost (but a lot better than) where Peco left-off sixty years ago with their spiked track on fiber bases. And if the bases are too thin print two or three and laminate them.
 
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Martin Wynne

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I'm following this thread with bated breath
@David Catton

Thanks David. As I thought, the file from a CAD program has to be imported into the Cameo software to be usable on the cutter. Fortunately it seems happy to accept DXF files from Templot.

Please don't hold your breath. :) There is still a long way to go, I still have all the special chairs to do. When 228a is released shortly, it will be possible to do only plain track as a finished object, and then only with REA chairs, not GWR. Everything else is still experimental.

cheers,

Martin.
 
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Martin Wynne

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Now you're talking!

Bash out the timbers on a sheet then plug in the chairs. It's almost (but a lot better than) where Peco left-off sixty years ago with their spiked track on fiber bases. And if the bases are too thin print two or three and laminate them.
@AndyB

Hi Andy,

Well yes, possibly.

As you probably guessed, a button somehow got clicked and a Cameo 4 will be here on Tuesday. :)

As usual, trying to get definitive technical info from the web is next to impossible. 500 Google pages on how to make a fluffy bunny rabbit, but nothing on the X-Y resolution of the drive gear. The only way to find out what works is to get one.

Whether Templot users are more likely to have access to such a machine, or to a filament printer, or a laser cutter, is a big unknown, so I'm trying to cover all options. Certainly for printing an entire track plan, the work area of these cutters is far and away more suitable.

cheers,

Martin.
 
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Martin Wynne

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I've now added an optional end flange on the timbers. This isn't needed strength-wise for filament-printed timbers, but if using the flanges to print or cut a spacing framework for resin-printed timbers, it makes it easier to arrange the sprueing for pointwork and curved plain track:

end_flanges.png


The number of options and tickboxes is starting to get out of hand. :)

Martin.
 
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AndyB

Member
@AndyB

Hi Andy,

Well yes, possibly.

As you probably guessed, a button somehow got clicked and a Cameo 4 will be here on Tuesday. :)

As usual, trying to get definitive technical info from the web is next to impossible. 500 Google pages on how to make a fluffy bunny rabbit, but nothing on the X-Y resolution of the drive gear. The only way to find out what works is to get one.

Whether Templot users are more likely to have access to such a machine, or to a filament printer, or a laser cutter, is a big unknown, so I'm trying to cover all options. Certainly for printing an entire track plan, the work area of these cutters is far and away more suitable.

cheers,

Martin.

Hi Martin,

I have to admit it's pretty unusual for me but I'm extremely optimistic :giggle:

Assuming there are no major "gotchas" it seems like a really good collaboration between 2-D and 3-D technologies.

Cheers!
Andy
 
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Martin Wynne

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I have to admit it's pretty unusual for me but I'm extremely optimistic :giggle:
@AndyB

Hi Andy,

Glad you are feeling better -- you mentioned on RMweb that you hadn't been well.

The Cameo 4 claims to be capable of cutting balsa wood, but unlike a laser cutter I suspect 1/32" (0.8mm) plywood is probably beyond it. Or would cost a fortune in blades. Whether the hobby is ready to accept card timbers again after all these years remains to be seen. They would need sealing with shellac or a modern equivalent waterproofing to hold the gauge tolerance for P4.

cheers,

Martin.
 
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Phil O

Member
Location
Plymouth.
Hi Martin,

To get crisp corners using the Cameo, draw all the horizontal lines and then all the vertical lines, or vise a versa. The cutter seems to follow the way the drawing is produced.
 
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Martin Wynne

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To get crisp corners using the Cameo, draw all the horizontal lines and then all the vertical lines, or vise a versa. The cutter seems to follow the way the drawing is produced.
@Phil O

Thanks Phil. It would be possible to do an edit on the DXF file to achieve that before saving it.

There is also an "Overcut" function for sharp corners:

cameo_overcut.png



I can see a lot of trial and error to find the best results. :)

The main challenge at present is to find a cardstock material which is thick enough to use for timbers, but with a high-quality surface and texture for precision cutting. Most thicker card available seems to be the "greyboard" material found on the back of writing pads, etc., which is a coarse texture made from recycled cardboard. A precision cut is needed to locate the chairs accurately and maintain the track gauge.

As an alternative to plain card, I've ordered some of this to try:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B00GKCF3WW

Black seems a better starting point for timbers than white. Thickness 1.25mm (1250 microns). Also available up to A1 size and in various colours if it turns out to be any good.

The alternative is to use the Cameo to create a spacing framework, or 3D template, for individual 3D-printed timbers. In which case the quality and thickness isn't so critical.

cheers,

Martin.
 
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AndyB

Member
@AndyB

Hi Andy,

Glad you are feeling better -- you mentioned on RMweb that you hadn't been well.

The Cameo 4 claims to be capable of cutting balsa wood, but unlike a laser cutter I suspect 1/32" (0.8mm) plywood is probably beyond it. Or would cost a fortune in blades. Whether the hobby is ready to accept card timbers again after all these years remains to be seen. They would need sealing with shellac or a modern equivalent waterproofing to hold the gauge tolerance for P4.

cheers,

Martin.

Physically fine :). Sometimes I just find it hard to get started on (or finish!) things.
 
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Martin Wynne

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The Cameo 4 arrived, but I'm a bit disappointed in it. The build quality is very flimsy/plasticy, and no comparison with the Elegoo 3D printer. I can't see it being much help to us for actual track construction. I think I was kidding myself that a blade cutter could match die-cutting or punching to create precision cut-outs in thick card.

The standard blades appear to have a cutting edge which is near vertical, which obviously isn't going to cut anything much thicker than about 10 thou / 0.25mm with any precision, and it doesn't. Even at that thickness I can't find a setting which will cut through ordinary card cleanly without raising a burr or leaving rough edges. It would probably be fine for scoring plasticard for snapping, but that's about all.

I do have a couple of the alternative "Kraft" blades (isn't that cheese?) which have an angled cutting edge more akin to a craft knife, which may work better to create a proper slicing action, but I haven't tried them yet. Mainly because the instructions say they are only for soft craft materials such as cork or foam, although they do also mention thin balsa wood sheet. I have seen some 2mm foamboard with a foam core which might be worth investigating.

But all is not lost, because the machine does have one redeeming feature. By fitting a "Sketch Pen" in place of the cutter it is possible to have the equivalent of an A3 roll-feed pen plotter, with no restrictions on the page length (unless you regard 60ft as a restriction :) ). I say "equivalent", but that should be taken with a pinch of salt, given the plastic construction, and the ball-point pens, but it is actually usable:

cameo4.jpg


So instead of taking files to a digital copy shop, you could print your own track plan in 2 strips to cover a typical say12ft x 2ft baseboard. Which makes it easier to do trial-and-error reprints, and saves the cost of commercial wide-format printing. Some standard A3 printers allow roll feeding, but not an unlimited page length (unless they still support the old "banner printing" option).

It's going to need some changes in the Templot DXF to be fully usable -- at present the paper is constantly feeding to and fro over the full length, which is obviously out of the question for a print several yards long. I need to do a post-edit function on the DXF to put everything into strict page order, and break long lines into several short ones. That's one more thing on the list. :)

For actual track construction I would want to use the proper printed templates, but for seeing the overall track plan on the baseboard this seems acceptable. If you are printing 3D track bases in small modules, this might be sufficient to align them, rather than fitting together lots of A4 sheets.

The machine seems to have little built-in intelligence, just the stepper drives. The heavy lifting is done in the software on the computer, and transmitted over the USB connection in real time. Which means the CPU is heavily loaded all the time the machine is working. If you are running it from a laptop the fans will come on.

The roll of 300mm wide drawing paper came from Amazon:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B006ZKHE58

It is too small in diameter to fit the roll holder properly, and I had to remove the end plates as you can see on the table. No doubt something could be improvised or 3D printed to solve that.

So all in all the Cameo has been a bit of a distraction -- back now to getting 228a finished for 3D printing.

cheers,

Martin.
 
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Paul Boyd

Member
Location
Loughborough, UK
The Cameo 4 arrived, but I'm a bit disappointed in it. The build quality is very flimsy/plasticy, and no comparison with the Elegoo 3D printer. I can't see it being much help to us for actual track construction. I think I was kidding myself that a blade cutter could match die-cutting or punching to create precision cut-outs in thick card.

The standard blades appear to have a cutting edge which is near vertical, which obviously isn't going to cut anything much thick than about 10 thou / 0.25mm with any precision, and it doesn't. Even at that thickness I can't find a setting which will cut through ordinary card cleanly without raising a burr or leaving rough edges. It would probably be fine for scoring plasticard for snapping, but that's about all.

I do have a couple of the alternative "Kraft" blades (isn't that cheese?) which have an angled cutting edge more akin to a craft knife, which may work better to create a proper slicing action, but I haven't tried them yet. Mainly because the instructions say they are only for soft craft materials such as cork or foam, although they do also mention thin balsa wood sheet. I have seen some 2mm foamboard with a foam core which might be worth investigating.

But all is not lost, because the machine does have one redeeming feature. By fitting a "Sketch Pen" in place of the cutter it is possible to have the equivalent of an A3 roll-feed pen plotter, with no restrictions on the page length (unless you regard 60ft as a restriction :) ). I say "equivalent", but that should be taken with a pinch of salt, given the plastic construction, and the ball-point pens, but it is actually usable:

View attachment 1634

So instead of taking files to a digital copy shop, you could print your own track plan in 2 strips to cover a typical say12ft x 2ft baseboard. Which makes it easier to do trial-and-error reprints, and saves the cost of commercial wide-format printing. Some standard A3 printers allow roll feeding, but not an unlimited page length (unless they still support the old "banner printing" option).

It's going to need some changes in the Templot DXF to be fully usable -- at present the paper is constantly feeding to and fro over the full length, which is obviously out of the question for a print several yards long. I need to do a post-edit function on the DXF to put everything into strict page order, and break long lines into several short ones. That's one more thing on the list. :)

For actual track construction I would want to use the proper printed templates, but for seeing the overall track plan on the baseboard this seems acceptable. If you are printing 3D track bases in small modules, this might be sufficient to align them, rather than fitting together lots of A4 sheets.

The roll of 300m wide drawing paper came from Amazon:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B006ZKHE58

It is too small in diameter to fit the roll holder properly, and I had to remove the end plates as you can see on the table. No doubt something could be improvised or 3D printed to solve that.

So all in all the Cameo has been a bit of a distraction -- back now to getting 228a finished for 3D printing.

cheers,

Martin.

That’s disappointing for me as well! At work we have an ancient Craft Robo cutter that is unable to cut 10 thou plasticard, not that that was its intended purpose! From all the advertising blurb I had visions of cutting 20 thou carriage sides with the Cameo 4, but it seems that’s not to be 😢
 
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Martin Wynne

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That’s disappointing for me as well! At work we have an ancient Craft Robo cutter that is unable to cut 10 thou plasticard, not that that was its intended purpose! From all the advertising blurb I had visions of cutting 20 thou carriage sides with the Cameo 4, but it seems that’s not to be 😢
@Paul Boyd

Hi Paul,

Bear in mind that I've had the Cameo for only a couple of days, so I still have a lot to learn. I wouldn't write it off completely just yet.

I think the kraft blade might be able to cut thicker plasticard quite well, if you don't mind a lot of faff. Essentially I think you are supposed to make repeated cuts, each time with the blade set a fraction deeper. The snag there is that changing the blade depth means removing the blade unit from the machine, adjusting the depth on the end cap, and putting it back in. So not a 5-minute job if it needs several cuts. The maximum kraft blade depth is 3mm, so in theory 0.5mm (20 thou) ought to be easy.

The kraft blades are new for the Cameo 4 machine, so there isn't a lot of experience of using them in the modelling forums. If I wasn't tied up with 228a I would do a lot more experimenting before dismissing the machine entirely. I think I have some 20 thou plasticard, so I will do a test to see what happens.

cheers,

Martin.
 
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