Experimental Plug Track: 3D-printed, CNC-milled, laser-cut

Yes socket outiles are available in 228a (the current released version) :-
First you need to switch on the experimental chairing
Real > Chairing/3D > Experimental chairing.

Then you can:-
Output > Export a file (PDF, PNG, EMF, DXF, STL.....
Click on the [Create DXF/STL] button in the Export CAD file box.
Leave it as 2-D DXF , click on [timbers only] button
change some other parameters you might want for instance the [chair socket fit] button brings up:-
1631109775716.png

This screen capture shows the defaults.
I used the "socket side clearance" & set it to minus 0.25 to reduce the standard socket width of 2mm to 1.5mm.
(but in reality as the laser cutting service had a kerf of 0.2mm, this actually made the true (as cut) socket width 1.7mm.

Then when you click on the green [export DXF/STL file] box/button in bottom left, the resultant .DXF file has a layer named TIMBOUTL which contains the lines for both timbers and sockets.

I then just opened the .DXF file directly with Inkscape (because thats what I had available), added a new layer called SOCKOUTL and then selected all the sockets in the layer TIMBOUTL and MOVED them to the layer SOCKOUTL.

Steve
 
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Derek

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Martin/ John

Amazon has a deal on at the moment for the Elegoo Mars 2P and a wash/ cure unit. I forget the exact price but it's a lot cheaper than buying both separately. I've no idea whether the 'cure/ wash cabinet' is better than a UV lamp and cleaning materials.

Derek
 
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Martin Wynne

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@timbersgalore @Steve_Cornford

Hi Timbers,

I have moved your post to a new separate topic because what you are doing is not Plug Track -- the new topic is here:

https://85a.uk/templot/club/index.php?threads/laser-cutting-from-dxf-file-export.273/

I desperately want this topic to be about Plug Track only -- folks are so quick to get the wrong end of the stick that it's a constant battle of wits to keep topics on course and prevent confusion. Otherwise it takes hours of my time to unsort the confusion and explain everything, over and over again.

In Plug Track the chairs are slid onto the prepared rail first, one at a time, and the chaired rail is then pressed vertically into the timbering base. If you fit the chairs into the timbers first, the rail must then slide endways through the chairs. Which is doable for simple formations, but impossible for any rails which contain a set bend or knuckle bend or bent check flare, or are otherwise obstructed by other rails already in place.

I can see that I'm going to have make a rubber stamp with this explanation, because time and again folks are going to assume that the rails slide into the timbering base, as in pointwork kits. I shall be explaining the difference over and over again until the end of time, just as I have been doing for 15 years now with 00-SF on RMweb. :(

Steve's idea for sockets in the trackbed is that you use separate locator plugs to locate and fix the timbers to the trackbed:

index.php

These are then removed when the glue has set, and the chaired rail is then pressed into the timbers. This avoids the need for any sprues or webbing between the timbers to align them.

I'm still in two minds about this, because the gauging and rail alignment is set by the chairs and timbers, so the sockets in the trackbed will need to be cut with the same precision as the sockets in the timbers. I can imagine therefore that it will need 2 sublayers to work -- the usual soft cork or balsa trackbed, and then a solid layer of the same material as the timbers, containing the additional sockets. With the risk of warping and distortion as yet untried.

p.s. the excessive bottom taper on the locator plugs in the above screenshot has been removed in 228b.

cheers,

Martin.
 
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Martin Wynne

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The chairs I produce ( using an Elegoo Mars 2 pro, arriving in next 3 hours) will have longer pegs so that they go through the timbers and into the trackbed layer.
@Steve_Cornford

Hi Steve,

If you do that it will not be Plug Track because you will be sliding the rail through the chairs afterwards -- see my previous post.

As you previously explained it, you wanted to use separate removable locator plugs to fix the timbers to the trackbed. Before adding the chaired rail.

Presumably the printer has now arrived -- if you chose it based on my comments I hope you are pleased with it. It's a marvellous piece of kit. :)

cheers,

Martin.
 
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Hi Martin,
You are right, I forgot to mention that first I would use locator pegs when glueing the timbers to the trackbed.
As an experiment I plan to make the locator pegs with the baseplate on the top, then having applied glue to timbers and positioned them on the trackbed pop the whole assembly, baseboard, tracbed, timbers and locator pegs into a large vacuum clothes bag and attach a vacuum cleaner to let atmospheric pressure apply an even pressure to the whole face of the timbers.
I have used the vacuum bag trick when laminating several layers of thin plywood before to achieve very even gluing particularly on curved surfaces.
But once this is done and the locator pegs removed I assumed that it would not hurt to use longer pegs on the actual chairs for a stronger fix, however this would use more resin.
So after removing locator pegs I would thread the rail into the chairs, then plug the chairs into the sockets.

Yes box has arrived labelled Mars 2 Pro.
I did base my choice on your comments and on some other comments, especially from people who have had other makes but have added the Mars to their stable.
So thank you for all the usefull advice and tips on its use that you have detailed in your Messin with Resin topic
Just waiting for some other bits to arrive before i dare unbox it & get going.
In the meantime am learning more Templot skills and playing with some of Waynes kits.
Steve
 
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Martin Wynne

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But once this is done and the locator pegs removed I assumed that it would not hurt to use longer plugs on the actual chairs for a stronger fix, however this would use more resin.
@Steve_Cornford

Hi Steve,

Having longer plugs on the chairs will make them easier to handle when threading them onto the rail. You would also be able to use a more pronounced bottom taper on the plugs, which makes it easier to align them all over the sockets before pressing the rail home.

The short default plug depth in 228a was to allow for the option of blind sockets in the FDM timbers (which strengthens the timber and removes the need for the side flanges):

index.php


from: https://85a.uk/templot/club/index.p...d-printing-and-2d-laser-cutting.229/post-1870

In 4mm scale some users will also want to use thin 1/32" (0.8mm) timbers matching Brook Smith riveted ply (and SMP Scaleway flexi-track). Which by itself allows for almost no bottom taper on the plugs, but if done in ply rather than FDM and combined with your socketed sub-bed it would do.

It would also be possible to combine 3D-printed timbers (with through sockets) with laser-cut sockets in a sub-bed. This would allow bunched timbers to be resin printed without side flanges or webs. Saving on the cost of the laser-cutting if you already have a resin printer.

So many options and settings! :)

cheers,

Martin.
 
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Martin Wynne

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I have just completed another iteration of the GWR 95 chair.

View attachment 2164
@timbersgalore

Hi Timbers,

The GWR S1 chair (for BS-95R rail) is 8" wide*, and sleepers are 10" wide. Your chair appears to be occupying the full width of the sleeper, so either the chair is too wide, or the sleepers are too narrow? Is this the result of the laser kerf on the cut sleepers?

If they were REA S1 chairs (3-screw) it would look like a length of plain track laid with all S1J joint chairs, which would be extremely unusual but just about feasible. But as far as I know the GWR didn't use any joint chairs.

*the GWR 00-Ordinary chair (for their 00 rail) is 7.1/2" wide, so the effect would be even more noticeable.

The grain effect on your sleepers is excellent, although suggests very old sleepers more likely to be seen on branch lines and yards rather than on a main running line.

cheers,

Martin.
 
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Paul Boyd

Member
Location
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This is all now all getting very confusing. I was following this thread for interest to see what could come out of Templot but it seems now to be covering lots of different methods and opinons of building 3D printed track.

Although I don't have a 3D printer, nor the space to put one, that doesn't preclude me from getting chairs printed!
 
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Martin Wynne

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This is all now all getting very confusing.
@Paul Boyd

Hi Paul,

I agree. Which is why I have hived off the stuff about DXF for laser cutters into a separate topic, and moved some posts about track-building methods into the methods and materials section.

This topic is about the Templot program and its Plug Track output, to create 3D-printed track without requiring any CAD design skills.

The unpainted result looks like this (this is 4mm/ft EM gauge):

index.php


The default option from Templot will be to export 3 STL files for the 3D printing.

To make Plug Track for a section of a track plan which I am calling a "timbering brick" (in my case roughly 8" square). It can't normally be a whole template because of size restrictions on FDM (filament) printers, but it may contain sections from more than one template. The bricks will clip together like Lego to create the full track plan (which is why I call them "bricks").

1. a file for FDM filament printing of the timbering base.

2. a file to create a corresponding set of plug-in chairs on a resin printer.

3. optionally a file to create rail filing and bending jigs for the required switches and crossing angles, on an FDM printer.

Resin and FDM printers are now getting quite popular among modellers, but for those without them the files could be sent to commercial 3D printing services (or to friends).

But I want to include other options for those who want them if I can. It should get a lot less confusing when I can remove the word "experimental" from the topic title and describe what actually is, rather than several ideas that I'm trying and what might be one day.

If anyone finds it too confusing the best advice would be to ignore this topic until that happy day arrives. But don't hold your breath. :)

cheers,

Martin.
 
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Martin Wynne

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I forgot to post this.

These stabilising webbing links between adjacent templates in a brick are called "splints":

brick_splints.png

They are added manually by drawing line shapes in the background shapes. You can have as many as you like. The default size is 9" wide by 1.5" thick (scale), but can be set to whatever you want. At that thickness (0.5mm in 4mm scale) they match the timber flanges and can be hidden under the ballast. If made thicker they would need to be cut out after track-laying.

I tried to generate them automatically, but a usable algorithm proved too difficult. It needs a human eye to position them sensibly, and some experience with the printer and polymer in use.

In 3-D files all background line shapes are treated as brick splints -- they go in the BKSPLINT layer, and can be turned off there if not wanted.

Remember to save the BGS3 file! (Also for the chair support slabs, which work similarly for all background rectangle shapes.)

In 2-D files background line shapes are drawn as plain lines, in the SBGSHAPE layer (or DBGSHAPE layer if dotted lines), and can be turned off there if not wanted (no change for 20 years in that). Likewise background rectangle shapes in the same 2-D layer.

cheers,

Martin.
 
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Martin Wynne

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Just to add that if you export the above without the timbers, you could print this:

3d_template.png


In other words a 3D template into which resin-printed timbers, or laser-cut timbers, could be located. It could be removed from the underside of the finished pointwork in the same way as a paper template. Or if thin enough it could be left in the ballast.

If laser-cut instead, it would have to be done from a 3-D DXF, not 2-D.

If you increase the timber flange width to 12", and don't mind using more polymer, you don't need the timber web links and get this:

3d_template1.png


I'm minded to call this option a timbering "fret" and put it all in a single layer, but I'm desperate not to keep confusing people by adding more and more options.

cheers,

Martin.
 
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Martin Wynne

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Martin Wynne

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Just a reminder that nothing in the experimental 3-D chairing is yet working as finally intended. I released it in version 228a only to allow folks to see what I'm doing and tinker about with it, not to use it for real for any actual modelling purpose. Please do not post bug reports related to anything in the 3-D chairing -- until it is finished everything in it is a bug. :)

See these posts:

https://85a.uk/templot/club/index.p...ck-file-exports-for-3d-printing.229/post-1831

https://85a.uk/templot/club/index.p...ck-file-exports-for-3d-printing.229/post-1838

To use 228a as a normal Templot program update, please leave this setting on the default no chairing:
no_chairing.png


If you then find anything going wrong, it is a genuine bug, so please report it in the usual way. Thanks.

Please be aware that the above setting is template-specific, so if you have turned it on for any template you will need to turn it off on each one separately, or click the modify group to match function above.

cheers,

Martin.
 
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Dear Martin,
Please don't regret releasing 228a into the wild.
I for one have loved tinkering with it, and in doing so proved to myself that it is practical to laser cut sockets in 1.6mm ply with a width of 1.7mm, and the process has encouraged me to learn more and more about using Templot (without experimental chairing switched on).

Also more about resin printing and laser cutting, and dare I say it, even CNC milling.

I know you are just at the start of a long journey, and that maybe there will be the odd diversion up a "disused" branch line on the way, but it has really been stimulating to spectate on your journey, so thank you for sharing your progress with us.

Steve
 
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Martin Wynne

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I have now added some brick clip-connectors, which at present look like this, buried in the ballast:

brick_clip.png


It's called a T-clip or Tommy-clip. The clearance between the tommy-bar and housing is adjustable. It will need some trial and error to allow for polymer shrinkage, etc., and make a close fit without any play. Also some careful Z-adjustment on the printer to avoid an "elephant-foot" against the build plate. Some manual fettling of the clips is likely to be needed.

The clips are quite small, sometimes needing to fit between the timbers as above. But where possible it would be better to have them in the six-foot, attached to the timber webs using short splints. As with the splints, the clip positions are set manually, in this case by adding target mark shapes in the background shapes:

target_marks.png


You can add up to 20 clips per brick, but will usually need only a few. Clips on the left and/or bottom of a brick will be the left-facing housing part. Clips on the right and/or top of a brick will be the right-facing tommy-bar part.

Sometimes the clip will need to be at angle, to fit between the timbers -- how to set the angle is not yet decided. Sliding the template fixing peg might be one way to set a clip for both position and angle.

Hopefully it will work. If not, an alternative idea is to print some separate connector plates to link the sockets -- a plate with some plugs on it. To be removed after gluing the bricks to the trackbed.

cheers,

Martin.
 
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Martin Wynne

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Paul Boyd

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Hi Martin

This is really quiet an exciting development, and although it's highly unlikely that I'll ever have the facilities to do 3D printing myself (my justification for getting a setup at work failed :cool: ), there are plenty of places to get that done. My perspective is that my preferred method of track-building is plastic chairs on ply timbers but that makes for quite fragile track until it's firmly laid, and I've tended to drift towards more robust methods, on the basis that anyone who starts peering too closely will get a smack in the chops! The bricks seem to me like an excellent idea to keep everything securely in place - no more ply timbers, no more cutting gaps in copper-clad.

Anyway, the reason I posted is to ask whether you've considered spinning off the 3D printing aspect into either a separate program or an optional plug-in? The reason for the suggestion is that this is clearly going to have a lot of ongoing development, possibly at the expense of fixing bugs in the core function of Templot. I can see the situation occurring where you want to release a bug fix for something that's relatively straightforward, but can't do that until a big chunk of 3D printing code is releasable - in fact, I'm sure that's happened already!

Anyway, just a thought!

Cheers,
Paul
 
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Martin Wynne

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The reason for the suggestion is that this is clearly going to have a lot of ongoing development, possibly at the expense of fixing bugs in the core function of Templot. I can see the situation occurring where you want to release a bug fix for something that's relatively straightforward, but can't do that until a big chunk of 3D printing code is releasable - in fact, I'm sure that's happened already!
@Paul Boyd

Hi Paul,

Yes, that's the situation at present. There's a bug-fix in 228b for the silly straight-over-straight diamond-crossing mistake I made in 227a (and forgot to fix in 228a), but I dare not release 228b while it's such a battle of wits to get folks to understand what "experimental" means. :(

Yes, all options for how to release this are in my mind. A separate program is a possibility (and also for the sketchboard). I also have to think about the impact of all this on the open-source T3 project.

But I can't think about any of that until I have made it actually work. :)

I'm still a long way from that, and there is still the possibility that the whole thing will end up in the bin. It wouldn't be the first time. My main worry is the potential support load -- I not only have to release it, but then explain it. Sometimes explaining the same stuff over and over again until I'm just exhausted with the whole of Templot. I'm posting stuff here as I go along, because I may never get round, or remember, to explain it ever again.

Thanks for your thoughts.

p.s. I understand the difficulty in finding facilities for a resin printer, but I imagine most folks could fit an FDM printer in somewhere. If you stick to PLA polymer it's entirely home-friendly. The Templot chair files can be sent to a resin printing service, but for the FDM timbering bases there will be a lot of fiddle factors and most modellers would want to be in total control:

* https://www.amazon.co.uk/ANYCUBIC-Auxiliary-Leveling-Magnetic-220x220x250mm/dp/B08JCB2T4V/

* random pick from Amazon, not a recommendation!


cheers,

Martin.
 
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HI Martin,
Your T clips are looking good.
Somewhere during my 3D printing learning curve I saw a recomendation to add small round holes (ie 3/4 of a circle segemnt) to the inside right angle corners of female sockets to prevent stress fractures.
Sorry I can't remember where now (I take my eggs scrambled!)
Probably irrelevant to your T clips as they only have to survive until the glue sets.
My dad would have preferred dovetail joints!
Steve
 
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